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How To Fix a Running Toilet

If your toilet is constantly running, it can waste hundreds of gallons of excess water per day and raise the price of your water bill. If you want to save water and money as well as prevent water damage to your home, you can actually fix a running toilet without the help of a plumber. Here are some steps from Douglas Cooling & Heating to take to fix your running toilet before calling our plumbers for help.

Tips for How to Fix a Running Toilet

The most common causes for a running toilet are a faulty flapper, a broken float, a chain that is too long or too short, or an internal fill valve issue. Most of these issues that cause a running toilet can be resolved with a little know-how and a quick trip to your local hardware store. Here are some tips to try yourself.

Check the Flapper

You may be wondering why your toilet is constantly running even when you haven’t flushed it in a while. The first thing you should do is open the tank and check the toilet flapper (also known as the flush valve). This is the rubber part that sits down at the bottom of your tank covering the drain. If the flush valve isn’t closing properly, the water supply will run out, triggering the fill valve to continuously refill the toilet tank.

There is a very easy way to find out if the flush valve is broken and is letting water leak into the toilet bowl. Put a few drops of food coloring into the toilet tank, and do not flush the toilet for another 30 minutes. If after 30 minutes you see dyed water in the bowl, it means there is something wrong with the toilet flapper.

There are a few reasons why the toilet flapper might not be sealing properly. One is that mineral deposit buildup can prevent a tight seal. To clean the toilet flapper, remove it and let it soak in white vinegar for about a half-hour. Then, scrub the part with a cleaning brush to remove debris and reinstall.

Another possibility is that the rubber itself is cracked and needs to be replaced. Fortunately, a leaky flapper is an easy fix – simply remove the toilet flapper and replace it with a new one.

Inspect the Chain

If you’re still having trouble with a running toilet, it might be due to the chain that connects the handle to the flapper valve. Making sure the chain is the proper length could be the solution to your constantly running toilet issues.

If the chain is too long, it can lay underneath the flapper and prevent it from closing properly. Conversely, if the chain is too short, the flapper won’t be able to close and let the fill valve fill the tank. Instead, the toilet will run constantly with the flapper partially open. You’ll need to adjust the length of the chain so that the flapper can move freely.

Check for a Cracked Float

In most cases, when you open the toilet tank, you’ll find a ball and arm float on the surface of the water line. It is connected to the fill valve and is the mechanism that tells your fill valve when the toilet tank is full and doesn’t require any more water. Sometimes, this ball can break and allow water to fill its interior. In this instance, it is no longer able to sit on top of the water and show that the tank is full, which means that your fill valve will continue to fill the tank with fresh water. This issue can be fixed if you replace the arm and ball float. Replacement parts for a broken arm and ball float can be found at most local hardware stores and big-box chains.

Some newer toilets have what is called a “cylindrical float” or “float cup”, which is a type of float that sits vertically inside the fill valve. If your toilet has this type of float in its fill valve, it is likely not the issue. If all other options are exhausted and you still have a running toilet, the fill valve itself will need to be replaced. Replacing a broken fill valve main assembly is somewhat complicated since it needs to be adjusted to your specific toilet. Call the plumbing professionals at Douglas Cooling & Heating if your fill valve needs to be replaced.

Prevent Water Damage: Check the Water Level

If you have run through all of the diagnostic tips above and still have a running toilet, you will need to call Douglas Cooling & Heating. While you wait, you should check the water level inside the tank to make sure it isn’t overflowing and causing damage to your floors and subfloor. If the tank water level is too high, it will continue to spill into the drain tube, and could be leaking onto your floor, turning your running toilet into an even bigger problem.

When the water is running and the water level in the tank is full, check the overflow tube or drain tube. The drain tube is an open tube located in the center of the tank, connecting the tank to the toilet bowl. Examine the overflow tube to determine if water continues to drain into it. If so, adjust the water level by dropping the float lower in the tank.

Plumbing Help in Birmingham

If these tips don’t help you solve your running toilet problem or you don’t feel comfortable performing them on your own, don’t worry! The licensed Birmingham plumbers of Douglas Cooling & Heating are ready to help. Contact us today to schedule plumbing repairs in your home.

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