How to Fix a Running Toilet

Fixing a running toilet will not only get rid of that annoying sound, but it will save money on the water bill too. Even better, fixing a running toilet is a simple repair needing only a few simple tools.

The fastest way to determine the problem is to take the tank lid off and observe the flushing cycle (No worries, the water in the tank comes straight from the cold water pipes and is clean). The tank lid is fragile so you may want to put it in a towel and set it aside.

Pay attention to how long it takes for the water to fill, and what kind of sound it makes. If the water keeps running in between uses, It is probably a high float arm or stuck flush valve. If water cycles on and off with minutes of silence between hissing sounds, there is probably a small leak in the flush valve.

When a toilet is flushed, a rubber tank ball or flapper is lifted from the flush valve at the bottom of the tank. Water pours from the tank and rushes down the sides of the bowl, cleaning the waste and water from the bowl by forcing them into a trap cast in the base of the toilet. Once the tank is empty, the tank ball or flapper falls back down and seals the flush valve for filling. At the same time, a ball cock opens to fill the tank for the next use. The ball cock shuts off when the float reaches the correct water level. Many new toilets have a FluidMaster fill valve instead of a ball cock.

If Water is Running Constantly
If water keeps rushing into the toilet bowl without stop, the flush valve is not fully closing. A few reasons for this could be:

  1. If there is a flapper in the tank, oftentimes that means the chain connected to the flush arm is the problem. Check the alignment of the flush valve opening by freeing the chain and letting the flapper drop into place. If the flapper is in poor condition you will want to replace it.
  2. The tank ball may also be sticking, or the lift wire may be bent.
  3. If the flush arm jams in the "up" position on each flush, loosen the reverse-threaded nut that holds it to the tank wall.

If Water Hisses Constantly
If the water line in the tank is set too high, the water will continually spill into the overflow tube. That is most likely the problem if your flush valve closes properly. To lower the tank's water level, simply bend the float arm down. If you have a Fluidmaster fill valve with a float cup, squeeze its adjusting clip with your fingers and slide it down the rod.

Did You Know?
More than ONE THIRD of an average home's water use goes into flushing toilets! Lowering your tank's water level will reduce the water used in each flush.

If Water Hisses Intermittently
If the toilet turns on sporadically in between uses, or you hear gurgling sounds and water running into the bowl, youve probably got a leaking flush valve. Since a leak in the flush valve can be slow and difficult to detect, a good idea is to add food coloring or dye to the tank water and wait 15-20 minutes. If you find the color has leaked into the water in the bowl, its time to repair the flush valve seal.

Step by Step

  1. Realign the ball or flapper. If you can see and hear water flowing into the bowl, the tank ball or flapper probably doesn't sit properly in the flush valve. Shut off water to the tank by turning the angle stop (usually on the wall at the lower left of the tank) clockwise, flush the toilet and watch how the ball or flapper settles on the flush valve opening. If you have a tank ball, loosen the screws on the overflow tube and adjust the guide arm so that the ball settles correctly. If you have a flapper, twist the rubber ring that holds it to the overflow tube.
  2. Replace the ball or flapper. If realignment does not solve the problem, replace the flush ball or flapper.
  3. Clean the flush valve. If a new ball or flapper doesn't stop the from running, clean the flush valve seat with 600-grit wet/dry sandpaper.
  4. If the valve still leaks, you can retrofit its surface with a glue-on flush valve seat kit (Fluid Master Model 555C) that provides a new surface over the old seat.
CornerHardware.com recommended tools & supplies:

·  Adjustable Wrench

·  Screwdriver

·  Tongue-and-Groove Pliers

·  Putty Knife

·  Mini Hacksaw

·  Wax Toilet Gasket

·  Fill Valve Repair Kit

·  Complete Toilet Tank Repair Kit

·  Toilet Seat

·  Toilet Tank Ball

·  Rim Sure Flush Toilet

·  Flush Lever

·  Anti-Siphon Repair Kit

·  Flush Valve