How to Fix & Stop a Running Toilet | Bill Howe

How to Fix a Running Toilet


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If your toilet won’t stop running, you will unfortunately end up with a larger water bill than expected. However, it’s easy to learn how to fix a running toilet and take care of the situation quickly. This is one project that doesn’t require any plumbing experience. All you need are a few simple tools and an hour of free time to stop your toilet from running, and have it functioning correctly.

It’s a good idea to fix a running toilet as soon as you notice the problem. A toilet that keeps running can waste hundreds of gallons of water each day and will cause an increased water bill. The good news is that the steps for fixing a running toilet are usually pretty simple.

Gather the Needed Tools and Parts

The first step is to take the lid off the tank to see where the problem lies. The issue can be caused by a leaking flapper or a fill valve that has gone bad. If the overflow pipe is at the wrong height, it can prevent the flapper from working correctly.

You’ll need some pliers and a hacksaw. You may also need to buy a new fill valve or flapper, available at your local hardware store.

Why Does My Toilet Keep Running?

There are a few reasons a toilet won’t stop running. All of them are fairly easy fixes once you determine the cause, and we’ll explain how to fix a running toilet now.

When the Flapper is the Problem

In order to find out which part is causing the water to continue flowing, the first thing to do is jiggle the handle. If the water shuts off, it could mean the chain that connects the handle to the flapper is too long. Use your pliers to readjust and shorten the chain. If the chain is too short, it won’t allow the flapper to close. You may need to add a link to the chain so that the flapper will fit down and seal completely.

If this doesn’t resolve the problem, the next step is to check the flapper itself. The flapper is a round rubber piece that opens when you flush and closes when the tank is full. Push down on the top of the flapper and see if the water stops running in. If this step fixes the issue, you’ll need to replace the flapper because it isn’t sealing properly.

Before replacing the flapper to fix a running toilet, you will want to inspect the seal. The flapper can be cleaned in warm soapy water to remove any mineral buildup. This is especially important if you live in a hard water area like San Diego. Vinegar is another good cleansing product to remove hardened minerals. Once the flapper is clean, you can replace it and see if it works correctly. If not, the only option is to replace it.

Before replacing the flapper, you will need to shut off the water to the tank. The water supply valve is usually under the toilet. If you can’t locate it, turn off the main water supply.

Flush the toilet. This will empty most of the water out of the tank. Unhook the flapper from the tank. Install the new flapper according to the package instructions. When you hook the chain onto the flush lever arm, make sure to leave just a little slack when the flapper is closed to allow it to seal properly. Otherwise, you’ll end up with the same issue of a toilet that keeps running after a flush.

A Leaking Fill Valve

Another problem with a toilet that won’t stop running might be the fill valve. When you flush the toilet, look for a leak around the fill valve. Lift up on the float arm while water runs into the tank. Notice if the water stops and adjust the arm to allow the tank to stop filling when the water reaches about half an inch from the top.

If the fill valve is still leaking after the adjustment, it will need to be replaced. With this repair, you’ll need to shut off the water, flush the toilet, and dip or sponge out any remaining water. Place a bucket under the tank to catch any leftover water that may drip out once the fill valve has been removed. The washer and nut are often made of plastic in newer toilets. Disconnect the water supply line and remove the locknut on the fill valve. Remove the fill valve from the tank.

Put the new valve into the tank and tighten the locknut. Make sure to secure it tightly to prevent leaks. The overflow pipe may need to be shortened to the critical level mark with a hacksaw. The new fill tube must be attached to the fill valve nipple with the other end attached to an angle adapter. Clip the adapter to the overflow pipe and attach the flapper chain to the lever arm. Once you turn on the water, test the toilet by flushing it. Adjust the water level by turning the screw on the fill valve. This screw changes the height of the float.

One of these DIY repairs will usually fix a toilet that constantly runs. If you have problems with the repair, questions on how to fix a running toilet, or find other issues with your toilet or tank, contact Bill Howe. Our plumbers are experienced in all kinds of home and commercial plumbing repairs and can ensure your toilet is working correctly.

We are experienced in residential plumbing and can tackle all necessary repairs and replacements. We diagnose the issue and replace any worn-out parts to stop the toilet from running. We also handle wastewater systems and issues. When you need help, trust Bill Howe, because we know Howe!

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