How to Stop a Running Toilet
Is your toilet running? You better catch it! Sorry, I couldn’t resist. But, all joking aside, a running toilet can be a serious problem. At Solid Plumbing and Heating, we know all too well the problems that can be caused by a constantly running toilet, from flooding to increasing your water bill, it’s a problem you’ll want to fix sooner rather than later.
Check the Flapper and Chain
Your toilet’s flapper is a plastic or rubber cap that keeps water in your tank. Over time, this part can break down, become brittle and create a faulty seal. If your tank doesn’t refill or hold water, it’s likely due to a sub-par flapper.
Check your flapper to ensure that it’s still pliable and able to hold back water. Next, check for jams or poor alignment. Look for a side of the flapper that’s jammed or preventing a full seal. Then, make sure your flapper is seated directly over the drain.
If the flapper isn’t the issue, next check the chain. Make sure the chain connected to your flapper isn’t catching on anything. If you have an overly long chain, trim off the excess to prevent tangles. If the chain is rusty replace it with a new flapper chain.
Adjust the Water Level
Your toilet’s overflow tube ensures that the tank doesn’t overfill and flood your bathroom. If the float is set too high, water can leak into the overflow tube resulting in the fill valve turning on automatically.
To check the water level, flush the toilet then let it refill and stop by itself. The water should be about 1/2 to 1 inch below the top of the overflow tube. If your water level is too high, lower the float setting on the fill valve. Some valves have a metal rod and a small clip that you squeeze to slide the clip (and float) up and down on the rod; move the clip down to lower the water level. If you have an old fill valve with a long rod and a tank ball, carefully bend the rod in the middle so the ball goes a little deeper into the tank.
Check for a Water-Logged Float
A water-logged float can also cause constant running. If water is trapped inside your float, it will sit lower in the water and leave your float valve partially open. Check your float by unscrewing it (if applicable) and giving it a shake. If you hear water inside, it needs replacing.
Replace the Fill Valve
Your fill valve controls the flow of water into your toilet’s tank. A broken valve can fail to shut off altogether, or it may shut off inconsistently. This can lead to non-stop or unintended refill cycles. A submerged float valve is the most common sign of a faulty fill valve. Fill valves are inexpensive and easy to replace, so it’s better to replace the valve than to attempt a repair.
- Turn off the toilet’s water supply by closing the shutoff valve on the pipe leading to the toilet and flush the toilet to empty the tank.
- Disconnect the supply hose from the bottom of the fill valve, have a bucket handy to place below the water supply hose.
- Remove the old fill valve by unscrewing the locking nut on the bottom of the water supply shank and pulling the entire valve assembly out of the tank. Residual water in the tank will drain into the bin or bucket.
- Following the manufacturer instructions, adjust the height of the new valve to fit your tank height. Insert the threaded end of the valve into the hole in the tank, and secure it with the locking nut, tightening by hand. Use pliers to turn the nut a bit further to create a watertight seal, but be sure not to over-tighten.
- Attach the supply hose to the fill valve and tighten it snugly (not too tight) with pliers. Clip the valve’s refill hose onto the top of the overflow tube so the hose points down into the tube. Avoid placing the tube below your water line. This will lead back to constant refilling. Most valves come with a clip or angle adapter that ensures the tube is at the right angle.
- Turn the water at the shutoff valve back on, and let the tank refill. Adjust the water level, as needed.
Call in The Professionals
Basic plumbing problems can be a sinch to DIY if you’re so inclined, but a lot of plumbing issues are best left to the pros. If the problem is bigger than a running toilet, give the professionals at Solid Plumbing and Heating a call. Plumbing is our passion, and we’ll have things running smoothly in no time.