how to give your toilet the love & attention it deserves
Compare your home toilet to almost any other fixture or appliance in your home and it is really quite amazing how long it will last and how well it works, with very little maintenance! Having said this, it is good to understand how to properly clean and maintain your toilet on a weekly and annual basis to ensure that is stays looking it’s best and working efficiently. The most important areas to concentrate on are proper cleaning, and proper maintenance to ensure that you aren’t wasting water!
Toilet Maintenance and Water Savings!
Have you ever noticed a small trickle of water running down the back of your toilet bowl? Not only can this be noisy and annoying, but it can also waste a lot of water and money!
Consider this, if you have a toilet that uses 1.5 gallons of water per flush (which equals a flow capacity of around three gallons per minute), then 1,440 minutes (# of minutes in a day) x 3 = 4,320 gallons of water wasted per day. It might not be this high, depending on the rate of water flow, but regardless it adds up quickly and represents a huge waste of fresh water! (Remember, every drop of water entering your home whether being used for drinking, showering or for the toilet is clean water and when it leaves, it must go through the sewage treatment processing in your city or your septic system). This is so completely unnecessary and easy to fix!
Toilets can of course vary considerably, but the main culprits for running on are simple little seals (gaskets) located in your tank. If your toilet is consistently running, (and making a constant noise from water coming into the tank), you very likely have an issue with your inlet valve. This is the valve that connects to the incoming water supply. It may be as simple as a valve, or head replacement, or at worst, you may need to replace the entire inlet valve. This is generally a very easy and inexpensive procedure. Simply contact the manufacturer of your toilet to source the correct parts and get instructions on how to replace.
Another cause of water leaking into your bowl from the tank can be a simple gasket at the base of your outlet or flush valve. (This is the valve that pushes clean water into your bowl initiating a flush). Again, this is a very simple and inexpensive fix, generally involving turning off the incoming water supply, removing the valve, replacing the seal and then putting it all back together. It can often be done in a matter of minutes. This is actually considered to be standard toilet maintenance and this seal should be replaced about every 2 years, (or more often in areas with very hard water that can corrode the seal). Again, contact the manufacturer of your toilet to determine what you need and how to go about it. (Often this information is detailed on a manufacturer's website for customer convenience).
Other things that can go wrong:
- A leaking toilet from the base, (over a long period of time the wax ring can deteriorate and need replacement)
- A broken flush button or handle, (which can generally be sourced from the manufacturer)
- If during room painting or maintenance you have to remove a two piece toilet it is recommended that when putting it back you replace the tank to bowl gasket. This is generally a compressed material that forms a tight seal. Once you removed the tank, it should be replaced to ensure the water seal.
- Loose toilet seats. Toilet seats are not designed for a lot of twisting. If you regularly twist your body while sitting on a toilet seat it puts a great deal of stress on the hinges. Toilet hinges are meant to allow the seat to move up and down, not from side to side). It is best to avoid this twisting motion, but a seat will generally loosen before it breaks. If the toilet seat is loose, simply tighten it back down. (Some seats tighten from the top and some tighten from bottom). It’s good to tighten loose seats right away before they can be permanently damaged.
- A Sluggish flush can sometimes be caused by an incorrect setting of in-tank water levels. Water levels can be corrected by a small adjustment to the fill valve.
Most of us have cleaned a toilet in our lifetimes, (some of us more than most)! It is pretty simple, but it is surprising how many people are using cleaning products that cause more harm than good.
A toilet is made from porcelain, much the same as many decorative bowls and platters. A toilet is made by pouring a clay compound into a mould, firing it and then glazing it. The glaze is what gives your toilet its gleaming finish. While extremely durable if treated properly, you can ruin the glazing with incorrect cleaning!
Cleaning the inside of your toilet bowl with a harsh or abrasive chemical can actually scratch and damage the glazing, meaning that the more porous material underneath is exposed. Glazing not only looks good, but it also helps to keep your toilet clean longer. If you have damaged the glazing in the sump of your toilet you will notice that it tends to discolor very quickly in between cleaning, or it may be difficult if not impossible to get it anywhere close to the bright white it was when new. Unfortunately there is no way to fix damaged porcelain, but it is so easily avoided!
To clean your toilet bowl, use a soft brush and a gentle toilet cleaner. Do not use abrasives! Remember, even liquid cleaners can be very abrasive. Some are so harsh it is like using liquid sandpaper on your porcelain! Clean your toilet once a week inside and out. Wipe down the outer surface and around the back. Clean the buttons or handle, bowl and the seat. If you have a quick-release type of seat that is a great, easy way to clean all around the bowl to make sure the entire surface is clean. Remember to occasionally clean the inside of your tank as well! All kinds of impurities can come in from the city water line, so it is a great idea to empty the water from your tank a couple of times a year. Give it a good clean with a gentle cleanser and then refill. This may extend the life of your tank internals.
It is very important to never use in-tank cleaners on your toilet! These little bottles or pucks tend to contain very harsh chemicals or bleach and can quickly erode your tank internal components. Use of these in-tank chemical cleaners will void most manufacturers warranties!
During your weekly cleaning, is a perfect time to check for any leaks. Listen for water running on and check the back of the bowl for water running after the flush has been completed. Keep on top of this simple maintenance and your toilet should work perfectly for years to come!