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Repair a Running Toilet in No Time With These 4 Tips

  When a toilet is leaking, one of the first things people notice is the sound. If you hear a toilet that is pumping water continuously, even though no one had even used it, the chances are that you're dealing with a leak. But a leak is only one reason why your toilet is running continuously. Follow these 4 steps to diagnose and fix the problem on your own.
Repair a Running Toilet flushing toilet

In the vast majority of cases, a running toilet points to a problem in the toilet tank. In order to understand what’s wrong in the tank, you must first understand the main parts of the tank that can malfunction and how they work. To access the tank, open up the lid. These are the three key parts that usually fail and make your toilet run as a result: 

  • The fill valve, which is connected to the water supply. The fill valve fills up the toilet with water.
  • The flapper is located at the bottom of the tank and seals the tank when you’re not flushing the toilet.
  • The float, which is connected to the fill valve, is a cup or ball that measures the water level in the tank.

When you flush the toilet, the water level drops, and the fill valve, which is connected to the water line (a hose that goes out of the tank), opens and water starts running into the tank through the water line until it’s filled back up. If any of the above-listed parts are malfunctioning, water will be slowly leaking from the tank, and you will hear the fill valve running in order to keep the tank full.

The video below shows the approximate structure of the toilet tank and explains its crucial parts that can make a toilet tank leak water. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to check and fix a running toilet.

1. Check the Fill Valve

A faulty fill valve is one of the most common causes of a running toilet. If you hear that the toilet is constantly working, the fill valve is likely the issue. You can test the toilet valve by lifting the float. If the water stops, the valve is working well, and you have a problem with the float (see the following section).

If the water continues to run, there might be an issue with the refill tube. This is the plastic tube that connects the fill valve and the overflow pipe, usually located to the right. The refill tube should be attached firmly and it shouldn’t extend into the overflow pipe. If the refill tube is too long and goes above the overflow pipe, it might be difficult for the water to flow into the overflow tube. In this case, you should trim it slightly to make sure it fits better.

Related Article: How to Unclog a Toilet

2. Examine the Float

Repair a Running Toilet toilet tank
As we mentioned above, the float is the little cup that helps the toilet mechanism examine the tank's water level. Sometimes, it's set too high, in which case the water will start moving into the overflow tube, and it will be running non-stop. 
If the float is set too low, however, it won’t allow the flapper to close completely and the toilet will be continuously in “flush mode”. The proper level of the float is usually marked on the inside of the tank or on the overflow tube. You can lower or raise the level of the float by adjusting the clip, screw, or a rod attached to the float.

3. Look Closely at the Flapper

Repair a Running Toilet man fixing toilet
Another common issue that leads to a running toilet is a malfunctioning flapper. Flappers are rubber seals that don’t let water escape from the tank, and they are usually the first part of the toilet tank to disintegrate and wear away. In order to examine the flapper, you need to shut off the water supply to the tank and flush the toilet.
At the bottom, you’ll see a round rubber seal - this is the flapper. If it is cracked, damaged, or simply doesn’t fit tightly, it should be replaced, which is a pretty simple task. To remove the flapper, you’ll need to remove it from the chain that connects it to the flush handle and pull it up gently.
Take the old flapper with you to a hardware store and ask someone to help you find a replacement flapper. Universal flappers are also sold in hardware stores, but they don’t always fit, so be sure to keep that return receipt, just in case. To replace the flapper, just follow the same steps you did to remove it in reverse.

4. Take a Look at the Handle

Repair a Running Toilet  toilet Handle flush

So, you checked all the parts we mentioned above, and they all seem to work just fine, but your toilet is still leaking? The last thing you can check before you give up and call a plumber is the handle. A toilet handle is directly connected with the flush rod, which you can identify by opening the tank and lowering the handle. Sometimes, the chain that connects the rod with the flapper is too short, it won’t allow the flapper to close completely and water will leak into the toilet bowl. You can fix this issue by buying an extra chain at the hardware store and replacing it, adjusting it to a slightly longer length.

If your running toilet problem sticks around even after you’ve made all the necessary adjustments and/or replaced all the faulty parts, you may need to replace the entire flushing system. To do so, it’s best to seek professional help.

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