Running Toilet


A constantly or intermittently running toilet is easily one of the most annoying and at the same time, easily fixed problems in any household. There are only three, easily accessible items that you need to check to isolate a running toilet. The remedies can then take only a trivial few seconds or at most 45 minutes.

1. Check the Flapper Chain

Remove the cover from the toilet tank and check the chain connecting the handle to the flapper. It should be free and unencumbered. Sometimes it wraps around the flapper and obstructs full closure. In this case, shorten the length of the chain by moving it up one notch on the handle. In other instances, it has been shortened too much and does not allow the flapper to completely block the valve. In this case, lengthen the chain the appropriate amount.

2. Check the Overflow Valve

Inside the tank is also a small device, a float, that controls the amount of water delivered to the tank. As the water level rises, so does this device. It is connected to a shutoff that stops the water when the float reaches a certain level. Sometimes this float becomes disconnected or warped resulting in a constant stream of water entering the tank that leaves through the overflow tube.

Examine the float with the tank full. If water is still entering the tank, then the float is not set properly. To remedy this situation, bend the arm holding the float so that the float is slightly higher and engages the shutoff mechanism.

3. Check the Flapper Seal

This problem is the most complicated but should still only take 45 minutes including the trip to the hardware store. Some plumbers use dye packs to identify this problem but, in general they are messy and unnecessary. Instead, reach into the full tank and depress the flapper, if you can alter the sound of the leaking water, you know that the problem is with the flapper. You can try to clean any obstructions from around the exit but a quick trip to the hardware store for a new flapper and ten minutes effort solves the problem more permanently.

A running toilet is one of the simplest tasks facing a DIYer and should be always be attempted. There is simply no downside. Simply put, it is almost impossible to do more damage than good when it comes to a running toilet. However, if you haven’t solved the running toilet problem call your local plumbing company to come out to fix the it.