Toilet repairs range from easy and free... to a couple hundred dollars. Rarely more than that. For owners and landlords, just assume that your toilet will need some maintenance every couple of years. And if a toilet is more than 12-15 years old, it's probably time to replace it with a new eco-friendly model. Great toilets can be purchased for $99 and saves many gallons of water.
Do you have a toilet issue? Are your tenants reporting an issue with a toilet in your rental property? Before assuming you'll need to call in a professional... check to see first, if the problem is something you can solve yourself easily. Or something your tenant can resolve themselves..
The most common toilet repairs ARE the things that can be resolved quickly, easily and very inexpensively or even free. IF you find that you just can't solve the issue, you'll need to call in a professional, which can get costly. Why can these service calls be so costly? It's not the materials... toilet parts are usually super cheap. But at this point, you're paying an plumber's time.
If the toilet issue is in a rental property, both parties want to know who is responsible for the cost to repair. FIRST, check your lease. Often these items are directly addressed. If not, it's very important that the tenant makes sure the issue isn't easily resolved (did someone shut the water valve off behind the toilet? Is the chain in the tank stuck under the rubber flapper?). It's also very important the tenant understands that if the issue is a clog, they will most likely be responsible for the toilet repairs expense (child's toy? feminine hygiene products, cotton balls or other cosmetic wipes?). Those items will be found by the plumber, there's no way to get around who is responsible once the source of the clog is found. And at that point, the tenant will need to pay.
Are the toilet tank components worn out and need to be replaced? That's the most common issue in rentals. If this is the case, and not due to any negligence by the tenant, then the landlord is responsible. The good news: most any handyman can do the job of replacing the inner workings of a toilet, without needing to pay big hourly rates of a professional plumber. Also, if the tenant is very handy, offer to pay for the materials and ask if the tenant is comfortable doing the work. Most often, the repair takes no more than 20 minutes. Handy tenants often prefer to do it themselves rather than have to wait at the property for the 3-hour window of a plumber coming out to the property, to do a 20 minute job.
Most clogs are near the surface of the pipe. This means you just need a plunger. These clogs are the responsibility of the tenant, as they are due to too much toilet paper or items flushed that shouldn't have been flushed. Every bathroom should have a plunger handy.
Newer toilets are made to be very eco-friendly. They use much less water than older toilets. That means they don't flush as well, because they don't use as much water. That's just life. Accept it. But that also means having to be more careful how much toilet paper is used, and probably flushing more than once if needed. NO feminine hygiene products, cotton balls, makeup remover pads etc should EVER be flushed! Even facial tissue like Kleenex should be thrown into a waste basket, NOT flushed.
If the plunger didn't work and the clog is further down the pipe, it will be necessary to call in a professional plumber. If the clog is a result of negligence, the tenant will need to pay. However, there are also instances where the clog could be a result of a nearby tree root, bad plumbing, or septic tank issues. In these cases, the landlord will be responsible for the repair costs.
If the toilet continues to run water without stopping, chances are the fill valve or the flapper aren't closing completely. If they aren't closing, the water will continue to run - never reaching full capacity of the tank. If this is the case, super easy fix! Check first that a chain isn't the cause. Older toilets use metal chains to connect the flapper. If that chain is too long, not long enough, or floats to a wrong spot, it can get caught in a way that doesn't allow the flapper (bottom round rubber piece that goes up and down to open and close tank) to close and seal all the way.
If the above (free) toilet repairs aren't resolving the issue... chances are you'll need to replace some parts. Don't panic. Again, SUPER EASY! For $20... you could have a new toilet (almost!). Look in your tank. See two bolts at the bottom, holding the upper tank to the bottom toilet? This kit (below) will most likely be all you need to give yourself a "new" toilet. Make sure the parts look the same, and read the reviews. This kit comes with all the parts in the tank, and is made to be compatible with most toilet tank inner-workings. But make sure the parts match what you need. If so, you'll be surprised how easy the repair is. Make sure to check out (one of our favorite handy sites): familyhandyman.com for specific instructions with photos and diagrams!