How To Fix A Running Toilet: Flapper, Float, or Fill Valve

bubbling toilet

There’s perhaps nothing more annoying in your bathroom, than to hear a running toilet. In addition to the constant running water noise, a running toilet wastes so much water and can lead to higher water bills.

While it may seem daunting to fix a running toilet it can actually be a fairly easy fix, requiring just a few tools and some simple adjustments to the parts in your toilet tank. Let’s take a look at how we can find the culprit and get your toilet to stop running.

If you find yourself trying these methods and not coming to a solution or other plumbing issues arise like a bubbling toilet that are making you uncomfortable, we strongly advise consulting with an expert plumber to get your plumbing back in shape. The plumbing experts at Pulled can help with any plumbing concern.

Why My Toilet Won’t Stop Running

The three most common reasons you have a running toilet are a bad flapper, a chain between the flush lever and the flapper that is too long or too short, or a float that is out of position. Sometimes a faulty fill valve can create an issue, but this is not as common.

Start With The Toilet Tank

Before opening the top tank lid of the toilet, make sure to turn off the water supply feeding into the toilet. You can find the water supply line for the toilet by locating the silver knob on the back of the wall behind the toilet. To close the water supply line, turn the knob to the right.

Once you turn off the water supply line, you can flush the toilet to push any remaining water from the toilet down the drain and remove the tank lid from the toilet tank to inspect all of the parts, which include the flush valve, fill valve, flapper, and float.

Check The Flapper

The first thing we want to check with running toilets, is the flapper. The flapper separates the water in the toilet tank from the water in the toilet bowl. When you flush the toilet, the flapper opens and the toilet bowl pulls water from the tank. This creates the suction effect, allowing the waste in the toilet to be pushed down through the drain.

An old flapper or worn out flapper, can allow a steady water stream from the tank into the bowl and make the fill valve stay open, trying to fill the tank which leads to a running toilet.

Over time, mineral deposits and regular use can create a leaky flapper that doesn’t have a good seal. Additionally, something can get caught underneath the flapper, triggering running toilets.

Replace The Flapper

A close skip can occur with this obstruction, because a seal between the tank drain and bowl isn’t formed. Luckily toilet flappers can be found at any hardware store, so it’s not a big deal to replace them.

It’s also a good idea to install a new flapper, if you have a running toilet but aren’t sure if it’s the problem. While this may not be the exact problem, its best to replace the flapper every few years since they are relatively inexpensive and have a universal fit. Most toilet flappers run about $5 and can be picked up at any hardware store.

Adjust The Flapper Chain

If you replace the flapper and your toilet won’t stop running, you’ll want to look at the flapper chain. The chain connects the flush lever from the fill valve tube to the rubber flapper, allowing you to get a full flush when you push down on the flush handle.

If the chain becomes disconnected, you won’t be able to flush the toilet. If its too short, water from the tank will continue to leak into the toilet, because the flapper isn’t forming a seal properly and the fill valve continues to try to fill the tank. The fix for this, is replacing the chain with a longer one and adjusting it, so that it seals properly.

If it’s too long, the chain won’t open the flapper when the lever is pushed and water from the tank won’t go into the bowl, when you flush the toilet. To fix this, cut off the excess chain and adjust it so that the flapper opens and closes properly. The chain may also have a float attached to it which needs to be adjusted so that the float sits on top the water’s surface.

Check The Float

The water level inside the toilet tank is controlled by an adjustable float ball attached to a float arm, which is attached to the fill valve. The fill valve controls the amount of water that flows into the tank through the fill tube and ultimately determines how strong of a flush you get in the toilet.

toilet bubbling

If the float arm is set too low, you will get a weak flush. If it’s set too high, too much water will come out of the fill tube, because the fill valve will think that the tank doesn’t have enough water. When water continues to enter through the fill valve, the excess water spills into the toilet overflow tube.

Mark The Overflow Tube

To identify the proper fill level on the overflow tube, look for a fill level mark on the inside back of the tank and mark it on the toilet overflow tube, so it’s easily seen. If you don’t see a mark on the back of the tank, you can measure approximately one inch down from the top of the overflow tube and make a mark on the side of the overflow tube.

To determine the correct float height for maintain the correct fill height of the water level in the toilet’s tank, you’ll want to turn on the water supply at the back of the wall and run a normal flush cycle, to release all of the water from the tank into the toilet bowl.

Once the water begins to fill the tank from the refill valve through the refill tube, check to see where the water level stops in comparison to the mark you made previously.

Adjust The Float

If the water from the refill tube goes over the mark and begins to go into the overflow tube, then the column float attached to the pump is too high and you’ll want to adjust the float up or down accordingly.

Older toilets may require you to bend the brass rod that’s connected to the float. Newer toilets only require you to turn a screw or slide a clip along a rod.

Replace The Fill Valve

In some cases, the fill valve itself may be defective and allow water to continuously run into the tank. Fill valves are quite inexpensive and it’s much easier to replace an old fill valve with a new fill valve than to try to make a repair to one.

Book Help

If you find yourself replacing the fill valve and get stuck with anything, make sure to reach out to the team at Pulled for help with any plumbing or other toilet related matter. Sometimes you reach a point where you just want to stare blankly into space, but we want you to know that our experts are here to help! Click or call anytime and we’ll get you on the schedule as quickly as possible to find a solution.

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