Why Does My Toilet Keep Running & How Do I Fix It
If you created a list of the most annoying problems that happen in residential homes, how likely is it that a running toilet takes a top spot? A toilet that just won’t stop running is not only incredibly obnoxious, but it also wastes water and can contribute to a higher-than-normal water bill. Is there a way to shut off the water once it starts running?
As annoying as the problem is, it’s a pretty easy fix. However, if you don’t know a flapper from a flush valve, you’re not alone. Understanding your toilet is half the battle – the other half is stopping the toilet running water for good.
Below, the All Dry USA plumbing contractors are going to share exactly how your toilet works and the step-by-step instructions on how to fix a running toilet. Keep reading to get a lesson in toilet mechanics 101, along with a how-to break down for making the leaky toilet a thing of the past.
Without further ado, here’s how to fix a running toilet:
Toilet Mechanics 101: How It Works
First thing’s first – you need to understand what the mechanisms in the toilet are and how they work. With that knowledge, you’ll be able to make whatever fixes are necessary.
- The flapper is a flap that lifts up when the toilet handle is pushed down (when you flush the toilet). The flapper allows the tank water to flow to the toilet bowl and closes once the bowl is full so it can restart the tank-filling cycle.
- There should be a plastic floating device that will drop when the water begins to empty. It is linked to a fill valve, which opens and closes with the float is down and up, respectively.
- There’s something called an overflow tube in the middle of your toilet’s tank that will drain any extra water from the tank into the bowl if the water level rises too much. This tube also carries water into the bowl during refill.
Identify the Problem
Before you get to work, you’ll need to identify what’s causing the issue in the first place. It’s usually because of the following reasons:
- A defective flapper
- A valve that’s broken
- A water level that’s too high
- Water in the floating device
Below, we’ll help you identify which issue is causing the toilet to run and exactly how to fix it.
Problem 1: Faulty Flapper
If the problem is a faulty toilet flapper, you’ll want to troubleshoot with these steps:
- Check for the consistency of the flapper. You want it to be soft and malleable but still holding water back. If it’s getting old, it might be too hard. In this case, it won’t be able to make the right kind of seal and you’ll just want to get a new flapper.
- Check for the chain. Is it catching on something? Loosen it up. Is it too long? Trim the excess. Is it rusty? Replace a new chain.
- Look out for jams in the toilet flapper. If it’s pinched at the hinges, it won’t be able to fall back down to the seal.
- Make sure the toilet flapper is aligned. You want it to sit directly over the drain with a tight seal. If it’s misaligned, it might be letting water in. Re-adjust the placement if it’s off.
Problem 2: Broken Valve
The toilet’s fill valve is what controls how much water flows from the tank. If your fill valve is broken, it might shut off inconsistently or fail to shut off completely. This can lead to nonstop refill cycles.
The most obvious sign that a fill valve is faulty is when it becomes completely submerged under the water from the tank. These are a cheap and easy replacement – so it’s a better idea just to get a new one than to repair the one you have.
Here’s how to replace your fill valve part from start to finish:
- Turn the water supply off from the supply line. That means completely shutting off the valve on the pipe that leads to the toilet. Now, remove the lid of the toilet tank and flush. You’ll notice the tank empty. With the water supply off, it should stay empty while you work.
- Use a plastic bucket just below the toilet’s water supply hose to prevent any leaks. Then, disconnect the supply hose from the fill valve.
- Remove the fill valve currently there by simply undoing the nut on the bottom of the part and pulling the valve out from the tank. There will be residual water from inside the valve. However, that’s why you placed the bucket there in step 2.
- Follow the instructions provided by the product’s manufacturer for the best results with your installation. Insert the threaded end of the fill valve end into the tank’s hole and secure it with the same nut you removed. Tighten the nut to lock by hand. Finally, tighten a bit more with pliers to ensure the seal is watertight. Just be sure not to make it too tight to remove.
- Now, attach the supply hose you previously unscrewed back to the new fill valve. Go ahead and tighten it on with pliers. Once you clip the refill hose onto the overflow tube, the hose should point downward into it. Be sure the tube is slightly above the water line to avoid constant refilling.
- You can now turn the water back on. Allow the tank to refill, and then fine-tune your water level with the steps below. Remember, you want the level just below the overflow tube.
Problem 3: High Water Level
If the valve of the toilet is set too high, you’ll notice excess leaking into the bowl via the overflow tube. This will send small amounts of excess water into the bowl during each refill cycle. Eventually, that can lead to a pretty high level of water within the toilet. Here’s how to solve the problem:
- Lower your fill valve’s float setting. Adjust the clip on the rod up or down to reach the water level you desire.
- Flush the toilet and watch as it refills naturally.
- Check the tank’s water level now. Hopefully, it is about an inch below.
- If necessary, continue to adjust the float, flush the toilet, and check the level until you reach the ideal level.
Problem 4: Water-Logged Float
If your floating device (more casually referred to as a ‘float’) is filled with water, it’s going to sit deeper in the water because of the extra weight. If you unscrew your float and shake it, you’ll be able to hear and feel any water inside. If it’s water-logged, just go ahead and replace the mechanism.
When All Else Fails – Call an Expert
We hope that the above tips helped you understand how to fix a running toilet. If you’re still unable to stop the problem, you might have a bigger dilemma on your hands. It’s not uncommon for a running toilet to lead to inspection from a professional plumber.
Have no fear the restoration technicians All Dry USA knows how to get things dry, stop up leaks, and get your plumbing working the way it’s intended. If you need help to restore your toilet back to working condition, give us a call to discuss the problem.