A running toilet is loud and obnoxious, making it a nuisance to live with.
However, if left unattended, a running toilet can also lead to numerous
other issues that require more serious repairs. A constantly running toilet
can also sharply increase your water bill, hitting you in the pocketbook
as well. Fortunately, a leaky toilet is a fairly simple fix that you can
do yourself at home if you have a few handy skills and the right tools.
Let our Bartlett plumbers explain how!
Diagnosing the Problem
The first step to fixing a running toilet is to figure out why it’s
running. There are four common reasons why your toilet may start running
unnecessarily: the flapper, the fill tube, the float, and the fill valve.
You can find all of these items inside the tank above your toilet.
flapper is a small rubber plug with a thin metal chain or string that’s
connected to the lever on your handle. When you flush the toilet, the
flapper lifts, allowing water to flow from the tank down to the bowl,
washing everything in it away using nothing more than gravity to create
water pressure. Over time, the flapper will grow old, wear out, and start
to crack, slowly allowing water to leak down into the bowl below. When
the water level gets low enough, the float will sink, triggering the tank
to start re-filling itself, creating the running sound you hear.
fill tube is a small piece of pipe that goes from the fill valve (the main assembly
in your tank) to the overflow pipe (a small piece of pipe which drains
excess water down to the bowl if your tank fills up too high). The fill
tube is what’s used to re-fill the bowl in your toilet after flushing,
so it plays a fairly important role. If the fill tube is underwater in
your tank, however, your toilet will run.
float, otherwise known as the ball float, is a hollow, lightweight plastic ball
that floats on top of the water in your tank. It is connected to the main
assembly via the float rod, and controls the water level in your tank
by turning on or shutting off the fill valve. If the ball is set too high,
it will never actually be able to shut off the fill valve, and your toilet
will run endlessly.
fill valve is the main mechanism in your tank that feeds cold, fresh water from your
home into the toilet bowl and tank. Over time, these parts grow old and
start leaking or developing other issues, which means you may need to
Fixing the Issue
Check for issues in the order the objects are listed above, starting with
the flapper, as it is the most common source of toilet running issues.
It’s also one of the easiest to fix.
To fix the flapper, start by shutting off the water valve to your toilet
and then flushing it to drain your tank. Then simply disconnect the flapper
unit from both the bottom of your tank (it’s probably held on by
a small plastic hook) and the flush lever. Inspect it—is it old
and cracked or failing to seal off the drain at the bottom of your tank?
If so, bring the flapper to your local hardware store and purchase an
identical replacement (which should only cost a few dollars), then install
the new one by connecting the chain to the flush lever rod and securing
it to the hooks. Turn the water back on and let it fill up again. If you
don’t hear any leaks or running sounds, congratulations, you’re done!
Fixing the fill tube is extremely easy: if it’s under water, your
toilet most likely isn’t filling up very high and it occasionally
runs without use. Simply move the fill tube back into the drain pipe and
cut it back a little bit if necessary to make sure it doesn’t wind
up under water. This should resolve the problem and have your toilet working again.
This is also an extremely easy repair. The height of the water level in
your tank pushes the float upward, eventually forcing it to shut off the
fill valve. If the fill valve never shuts off, then water probably flows
continuously down into the bowl from the drain pipe. To stop this, simply
bend the float rod so that the float is angled downward slightly. This
will cause the float to shut off the valve at a lower level. If your tank
doesn’t get enough water or your flushes aren’t doing enough,
consider bending the float upward slightly in order to allow the tank
to fill to a higher level.
If you are experiencing a serious plumbing issue or need help fixing a
call Smith’s Plumbing Services today at (901) 290-1110 to schedule a service!
If none of these issues solves your problem, you may have a leak in your
fill valve, resulting in water slowly leaking into the tank and a continual
dripping, running noise. It’ll probably need to be replaced. To
do this, shut off the water valve and flush the toilet to drain the tank
and bowl. Then, using a crescent wrench, disconnect the valve from the
main water line on the bottom of the outside of your tank by removing
the lock nut. Take the valve to your local hardware store and purchase
an identical replacement, then install the new one exactly how the old
one came out, replacing the lock nut on the bottom to re-secure the main
water line. Turning on the water should refill your toilet and the running