How Do I Fix a Running Toilet?

By September 14, 2015Plumbing
running toilet Little Rock plumber

Many homeowners encounter a toilet that won’t stop running at some point during their home ownership. It can be maddening to hear your toilet running in the middle of the night and not only worry about wasting water, but also if the problem is fixable or not.

Making sure the toilets in your home function properly is an important step to take not only for your water bill, but to avoid problems later.

What causes a toilet to run?

It may be one of a few different issues, which might include a flapper not sealing property, a leaky fill value, a toilet tank that will not fill, problems with the chain connecting the flush lever and the rubber flapper, and issues with the toilet’s float ball.

Before you do any maintenance on your running toilet, however, it’s important to first turn off the water supply. To do this, find the faucet or tap connecting your toilet to the pipe leading to the tank. Then, carefully turn the handle in a clockwise motion to turn off the water. You’re now ready to get started.

Here are some tips for troubleshooting your running toilet and some steps you can take to fix it:

  1. Flapper not sealing properly – One of the first parts to check in your tank should be the flapper. The flapper on your toilet is the rubber stopper in the bottom that “flaps” open when the chain connecting it to the flush lever is pulled. If the flapper is broken, dirty, or warped, it may not be sealing properly. Likewise, if sediment is built up in the bottom of the tank, your toilet may run constantly because the flapper isn’t sealing well. If the flapper is dirty, you should remove it, clean it, and replace it. A running toilet may also indicate a silent leak caused by a faulty flapper. To test your toilet for a silent leak, add food coloring to the toilet tank and wait 15 to 20 minutes. If you see the food coloring in your toilet bowl after letting it sit for that time, it may indicate you have a slow leak, causing the toilet to run. At this point in the process, if the flapper still isn’t sealing well, it may be time to replace the part.
  2. Leaky fill valve – Gaps in the fill valve of your toilet’s flushing mechanism may cause water to leak, which causes the toilet to run constantly. A leaky fill valve often means the mechanism needs replacing, which can be a longer process that is still doable, but may take some time and money. Calling a plumber to fix it may save you time and allow you to breathe easier knowing the fix has been done by a professional.
    Toilet tank will not fill – When a toilet tank doesn’t refill, it might cause it to run constantly or stop flushing altogether. This might be a symptom of the flapper not sealing, but could indicate other problems, such as the nut on the inside of the tank connecting the flush handle to the flapper being too tight or problems with the chain.
  3. Chain between the flush lever and the rubber flapper is too long or too short – If the chain connecting the flapper and flush handle is too short, the tank may not fill correctly and run constantly. Likewise, a long chain that is too long may get caught on other parts in the tank and keep the flapper from sealing. Keeping the chain just the right length to flush when you need it and preventing it from snagging when you don’t is crucial to avoiding a running toilet.
  4. Toilet float ball positioned poorly – Finally, the float ball’s position may be interfering with the seal, and so the water in the toilet tank continues to run. To test if the float ball is causing the toilet to keep running, raise it above the water level. If it stops, the screw at the end of the float ball arm adjustment needs to be tightened or replaced. Additionally, if it’s too high in the tank, the float ball position may cause it to run. Adjusting the float ball position up or down will change the water level in the tank and help the toilet stop running.
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