How To Fix A Running Toilet

Our toilet runs continuously and probably wastes a lot of water. Is this something we can repair, or do we need to call a plumber?

01-13-01Fixing a running toilet is a lot easier than you might think. You do not have to spend your life savings calling in a plumber.

The mysteries of a running toilet can drive you nuts. Whether you hear water running constantly or cycling on and off, we’ll help you decipher the clues, so you can stop most leaks. Hardware stores and home centers carry the parts for almost every repair. One cause of a running toilet is a flapper that doesn't seal. If water from the tank seeps around the flapper and into the bowl, the flapper is probably shot.

Test For A Leaky Flapper

Push down on the flapper with a stick when you hear the water running and listen for it to stop. If it stops, you know the flapper isn’t sealing properly and you will need to replace it.

To replace the flapper, first shut off the water supply valve under the toilet or the main supply if t01-13-02he valve leaks. Flush the toilet to drain out most of the water and unhook the old flapper. Buy a new flapper of the same type and install it according to the instructions on the package. Hook the flapper chain onto the flush lever arm so there’s a little slack when the flapper is closed. Fill the tank and see if this fixes the problem. If not, go to the next step.

Check The Fill Valve For A Leak

Inspect the fill valve for visible signs of wear and test the float. Flush the toilet and look for a fill valve leak. Lift up on the float arm when the tank is filling to see if the water stops. If the float is improperly adjusted, the tank water level can rise above the overflow pipe and drain into it. Bend or adjust the float arm so the tank stops filling when the water level is 1/2 to 1 inch below the top of the overflow pipe. Replace the old fill valve if it doesn’t completely shut off the water, or it hampers the float-arm operation.

01-13-03Remove The Old Fill Valve

Turn off the water supply, flush the toilet, and sponge the remaining water from the tank. Disconnect the water supply line, unscrew the fill valve locknut and lift out the old fill valve. This is the perfect time to replace the old water line with a new braided type. Carry the old one with you when you buy the new valve.

Install The New Fill Valve01-13-04

Install a new “floatcup” style fill valve. Insert the new fill valve into the tank according to the instruction sheet and tighten the locknut a half turn past hand tight.

If the fill valve is at its maximum height, but the overflow pipe is still higher than the critical level mark, shorten the overflow pipe with a hacksaw, so it is 1 inch 01-13-05lower than the critical level mark on the fill valve.

Connect The Fill Tube

Attach one end of the new fill tube to the fill valve nipple and the other to the enclosed angle adapter (shorten the tube to avoid kinks, if necessary). Clip the angle adapter onto the overflow pipe. Adjust the float according to the package instructions to establish the proper water level. Finish the installation by attaching the flapper chain to the flush lever as described above. Turn on the water and test flush the toilet.  


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