How To Fix A Toilet That Keeps Running

image of toilet with money due to toilet leak

A leaky toilet wastes many gallons of clean water daily. This is not only environmentally unsound but also quite costly. In most cases, the main problem in a leaky toilet can be traced to the water tank behind it and should be an easy DIY fix. However, you will need to have a general idea of how to fix a toilet that keeps running.  A leaky toilet is usually easy to spot – it will likely produce a running or trickling water sound. Trickling water may also be visible flowing from under the rim of the bowl.

If your toilet does not show any of these issues but you would like to test if you have a leaky toilet, try adding a few drops of colored dye or food coloring into the water tank. Wait for about half an hour and do not use the toilet during this period. If the water in the bowl is clear, the toilet is working properly. If the water in the bowl is the same color as the dye you used, then a leak is present.

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How To Fix A Toilet That Keeps Running

Thankfully, in some cases, you can repair a toilet that is continuously running. Here are 4 things to try if you have a leaking toilet.

1. Check The Flush Handle Or Flapper

image of toilet flush handle

If the flush handle is old or corroded, it may not work as well as it used to. When flushing the toilet, the handle raises the arm inside the tank, which pulls the lift wire or chain that is attached to the flapper. When the flapper is raised, water is released into the bowl. The flapper then closes and seals the water inside the tank.

A flush handle that does not return to its original position after flushing will keep the flapper open, which in turn releases the water into the bowl. Adjust the handle to its original position after flushing to see if this will fix the problem.

Next, check the flapper and the valve seal for cracks or holes. If this is the case, you will have to replace the flapper. This component is sold in local hardware stores and is easy to replace.

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2. Check The Float Arm And Ball In The Toilet Tank

interior of toilet tank

Open the water tank behind the toilet and check the float ball. This looks like a plastic ball the size of a softball. The float ball connects to the float arm. The float ball will rise with the water level in the tank. When you flush, the float ball reaches a certain level and the inlet valve will shut off to stop the flow of the water. You may have to adjust the float to the right level by twisting the screw found on top of the ballcock. This will ensure that the ball is in the right position.

Check the float ball for holes or cracks as well. A cracked ball will sink, which signals the toilet to allow more water into the toilet tank. All the excess amount of water will flow through an overflow tube that leads to the bowl. This is what’s causing the running water sound you hear. If you find any cracks or holes in the ball, simply replace the float and rod.

Try lifting the float arm to see if the water stops. Try to adjust the arm by bending it so that there is space between the ball and the wall of the tank. This will help keep the float ball in the proper position within the tank.

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3. Check The Fill Valve

A leaky fill valve releases water into the tank to overflow into the toilet bowl. To check, flush the toilet, then see if the fill valve is leaking. While the tank is filling with water, lift the float arm. This should stop the flow of the water. Adjust or bend the float arm so that the tank will stop filling when the water reaches one inch or less below the top portion of the overflow pipe. Should the water keep leaking from the fill valve, you will have to replace it. A new fill valve comes with a set of instructions to help you replace the old unit with a new one.

4. Adjust The Position Of The Fill Tube

The fill or refill tube is a flexible plastic tube connected to the fill valve. It plays a key role in the refill mechanism of the toilet. Its ideal position is over the overflow tube where it is kept in place with a clip. Check to see if the fill tube is in the right position. If it is out of place, it will allow the water to flow into the toilet bowl continuously. Simply adjusting the position of the fill tube will stop the flow.


What To Do If Your Toilet  Keeps Running

There are some problems with the toilet that should never be approached as a DIY project. If the problem persists or is getting worse, or if you are unsure about what to do, do not hesitate to call a professional plumber. A plumber can assess and identify the specific problem and recommend the best solution to fix it. Getting the appropriate solution from a professional will help prevent a recurrence of the problem and ensure that your toilet will remain in good shape for many years.


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We proudly offer the most affordable and best plumbing services in the Lehigh Valley area. Our plumbers all have the proper licenses and expertise to ensure your satisfaction. All of our work comes with a guarantee. Contact Robinson Plumbing today and schedule your free estimate.

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