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How To Stop a Running Toilet DIY Guide
Running toilets are a pain in the butt. Today I’m going to share with you how to stop a running toilet. I’m specifically talking about water being wasted inside of the tank. You will only need a limited number of tools and the time involved from beginning to end will be about 30 – 40 minutes max.
Your first instinct may be to call a plumber but honestly many running toilet problems are easy to diagnose and fix with the right tools and know how. Before you start it’s a good idea to know how old your toilet is. If it was installed prior to 1994 it mostly likely uses 3.5 gallons per flush. If it’s newer it probably uses only 1.8 gallons per flush or 1.28 gallons if it’s Water Sense certified.
If you’re using one of the pre-1994 toilets it may be time to upgrade to a newer toilet. A newer toilet will not only help reduce your water bill but also be a lot less troublesome. Before we take a look at the main parts of the toilet inside your tank let’s talk about the tools you’ll need.
Tools Needed To Fix a Running Toilet
You need a pair of wire cutters, a flat head screwdriver and a Phillips screwdriver.
Parts of a Toilet
The two main parts of a toilet are the fill valve. The fill valve sits in the tank and fills it with water. It also sends water to the bowl through the refill tube. Different toilet models may use either a float cup or a float ball system. Be sure to check before you head to your local home improvement store for parts.
The second main part is the flush which is made up of the flush valve, flapper and tank lever. The flapper connects to the tank lever that sits on the flush valve. When you flush the flapper lifts up to release water to the bowl and remove the contents.
The first part to look at with your running toilet is the flapper. Generally you will have one of three problems with the flapper. The flapper will either leak, stick or remains open. Oftentimes the flapper becomes worn out because of mineral deposits, continuous use and being submerged in water all the time.
A great way to check to see if you have a faulty flapper. Pour one teaspoon of red food coloring into the tank and wait to see if some of the red food coloring makes its way into the bowl. This means there is a leak between the flapper and the flush valve drain seat. And it can cause what is known as “ghost flushing”.
Ghost flushing occurs when the toilet fill value turns on to replace water in the tank even though no one has flushed it. This is usually the result of a deteriorated or warped flapper. If you notice that your flapper needs replacing frequently it may be because you’re using in tank drop in bowl cleaners with bleach.
These harsh products rapidly age parts of the tank. Try switching to a regular in bowl cleaner instead.
A worn out flapper can really drive up your water bill because the water never stops running. It costs around $5 for a new flapper. Switch it out with a universal flapper or a brand of toilet that you’re using. It’s so inexpensive and totally worth switching out. Always begin by turning off the supply line of water to the tank and flush your toilet.
Next pull your flapper from your pivot arm and take your new flapper and line it up with your valve seat. If replacing the flapper doesn’t stop the leak your drain seat could be corroded. This keeps it from creating a seal when closed, allowing a leak that lowers the tank water level.
A simple fix for this is a flush valve repair kit or an entirely new flush valve. If you notice the water in your toilet bowl rippling and your toilet runs constantly there are few fixes you can try. First, make sure there is no problem with your flapper which we’ve already discussed.
Next, make sure there is no sediment around your fill valve preventing it from sealing. If this still doesn’t fix your running toilet then the water in your tank maybe too high. This causes the water to run into the overflow valve.
There are two ways to lower the water level depending on what type of fill valve you have. If you have one with a stainless steel adjustment rod. Squeeze the outside edges of the clip located on the back of the float cup. Then push the clip and float cup lower on the stainless steel link.
If your toilet has a plastic screw adjustment rod simply use a screwdriver to turn the screw counter-clockwise to lower the water level. If the problem persist the fill valve seal could be damaged. To fix this you can remove the cap from the fill valve top and replace the seal or go ahead and replace the whole fill valve.
A general rule of thumb is to make sure that the water level in the tank is between 1/2 inch and 1 inch below the overflow pipe. So you can make a mark on the overflow pipe with a permanent marker and sure that the water level rises to that point.
If you still have a float ball in your tank you’ll need to adjust it instead of the float cup to adjust the water level in your toilet tank. So again if your water level is too high you’ll need to make sure that the float ball goes down. When the water rises, the lower the float ball the more sensitive it is to trigger the stoppage of the water.
You can adjust the height of the float ball in two ways. You bend the float arm in the middle or you can tighten or loosen the screw at the base of the arm. When you do this it will raise or lower the float ball.
Another common problem is the double flush. If the bowl water automatically flushes two or more times you might have the wrong flapper. If that’s the case buy and adjustable flapper and then you can install and dial it the appropriate flush to alleviate the problem.
Finally you may have to trim your chain that connects your flapper to the toilet handle. You only want a little bit of slack. Trim the chain with wire cutters as this will prevent the chain from getting stuck between the flush valve and the flapper causing your toilet to constantly run.
Now you know how to stop a running toilet and save yourself some money in the process.