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6 Quick & Easy Running Toilet Fixes

Of all the innovations we’ve had in urban development and plumbing specifically, it’s kind of surprising that toilets still work the same way they always have. You begin by pushing down the flushing handle (or button) to allow water to fill the toilets tank. From there the water level rises, lifting the float, which in turn shuts off the water supply once a certain level is reached. When the handle returns to it’s original position a lever that is connected to the handle opens the flapper that is contained within the toilets tank. The opening of the flapper reveals a hole that leads to the bowl that allows for the “flush” to occur.

Since this process has remained relatively the same over the years, when we receive calls from customers experiencing issues with their toilets, it usually takes us all of a few minutes to figure out what is going on. The most common issue we hear about is the ever-so-annoying running toilet.  Below we have outlined 6 common causes of running toilets so you can troubleshoot like a pro!

1. Is It a Leak?

A toilet leak is typically unlike other common plumbing leaks where water may be literally leaking from a broken pipe onto the floor or under the slab. In the case of a leaky toilet, it occurs when a toilet refill mechanism fails to properly function. The end result being unneeded water continuously flowing into the bowl from the water holding tank.

The most commonly seen causes of this particular issue include malfunctioning flappers, mineral deposits, broken fill valves, water level issues, or a broken or water-logged float. You can troubleshoot each of these items one by one to reveal the issue and end your toilet leak today.

2. Broken Fill Valve

Every toilet comes equipped with a fill valve to control the water that flows into the toilet tank. If this valve breaks for any reason, water will constantly flow from the tank to the toilet bowl. This leads to an everlasting refill cycle. One good way to tell if a valve is indeed broken is to check if the broken valve is completely submerged inside the toilet tank.

3. Broken Flapper

Water inside a toilet tank is held there by a rubber cap commonly called a flapper. It works in much the same way as a stopper in a drain might. Over time, flappers develop cracks and no longer form a tight enough seal to function correctly. If your toilet tank never properly refills or holds enough water, and the supply line to the tank is constantly running, you may have a broken flapper.

4. Incorrect Water Levels

The first thing you should always do when working through your troubleshoot for a running toilet is to check the water level inside of the holding tank. The water level inside the tank is managed by a mechanism controlled buoyancy. Each time the toilet is flushed, the tank must fill with water to repeat the process when it is required again in the future. When the tank water level is correctly managed, the float automatically stops all water intake from the supply hose to the tank. If your tank water level is too low, you may need to simply adjust the tank’s float.

5. Old or Worn Out Flush Handle

If upon flushing your toilet you notice that the handle remains down for an abnormal amount of time, therein could lie the problem. It could be the toilet handle is stiff and slow to rise to due old age and corrosion. Leaving a toilet handle in the down position will allow the handle to run indefinitely, until the handle is returned to it’s neutral position. You can either loosen the handle and clean away corrosion or replace the handle completely to solve this issue.

6. Flapper Chain

One common problem, especially with newly installed toilets that constantly run, is an improperly sized flapper chain. When the toilet was installed it is possible that the accompanying flapper chain was either too long or too short for your toilet’s tank.  This can prohibit the flapper seal from fully closing allowing water to continuously fill the tank and enter the toilet bowl.  Luckily, adjusting a flapper chains length is a simple task.

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