Plumber’s Tip: How to Fix a Running Toilet

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If there is a low humming noise coming from your toilet or if you are constantly jiggling the handle to prevent water from running, it is time to fix your running toilet. Do not ignore this problem because not only are you wasting water, but you will also be paying higher water bills.

When you jiggle the toilet handle, you are repositioning the rubber flapper (the part that raises up allowing water to go into the toilet bowl) and it may temporarily seal more securely, but it does not solve the issue. To determine why your toilet is running, you will need to evaluate its working parts.

Flapper – Take the top off the toilet’s tank and flush the toilet while watching the rubber flapper. If the flapper does not close completely on the drain seat, the drain will be uncovered and the fill valve will continue to run releasing water into the tank and the bowl. The rubber flapper may also become cracked or worn due to mineral deposits. This can be switched out with a universal flapper or one that is compatible with your toilet’s brand.

Chain – Another reason your toilet may be running is that the chain connecting the flapper to the toilet handle is the wrong length. If the chain is too long, it can get stuck under the flapper. If the chain is too short, the flapper will not seal. You can trim your chain with wire cutters giving it a little slack with the flapper closed.

Float (cup or ball) – Water may be flowing into the overflow tube (empties directly into the toilet bowl) because the water level in your toilet tank is too high. Lowering the float in your tank will lower the water level. You want the water level to be ½-inch to 1-inch below the overflow pipe.

  • To adjust a float cup – you need to find the spring clip attached to the cup, squeeze it with your fingers and slide the float up and down to increase or decrease the amount of water in the tank.
  • To adjust a ball float –you can find the adjustment screw on top of the fill valve and turn the screw clockwise to lower the water and counterclockwise to raise the water. Another option is to bend the float rod down a bit and then create another bend so that the float is parallel to the surface of the water.

Fill valve – If you have completed all of the repairs above and your toilet is still running, your fill valve may not be working properly. Your fill valve fills the toilet’s tank with water from the water supply after it has been emptied by a flush. If your float does not rise when the water in your tank rises, you have a bad fill valve. Swap out your fill valve with a universal one.

If your toilet continues to run after these problems have been repaired, you may have a more complex issue for which you should have a dFlo plumber address.

Quick Tip – How to Tell if Your Toilet Is Running: One sign of a silent leak in your toilet is a higher water bill. Use the running toilet dye test to uncover a silent leak. Add a few drops of food coloring to the upper tank and wait 20 minutes. If the water in your toilet bowl is tinted, your flapper valve is not working properly.