How to Fix a Running Toilet

Running toilets are terribly obnoxious. Not only do they make noises throughout the night, but they also waste enormous amounts of water (around 2 gallons per minute). Many people simply resort to jiggling the handle as a solution to running toilets, but this does not really solve the problem. Luckily, fixing a running toilet is usually very simple.

In order to diagnose your running toilet’s problem you should first remove the cover of the fill tank and observe the flushing cycle. Depending on how long it takes for the water to fill and what type of sound it makes there could be a number of problems.

If the water is constantly running then it probably means that the flush valve is not fully closing. You should first check the alignment of the flush valve opening by releasing the chain and allowing the flapper to drop into place. Often times the flapper will be worn out and in need of replacement. Also, you should check to make sure that the tank ball is not sticking. The constantly running toilet may be a result of the flush handle sticking in the “up” position—to fix this simply loosen the nut that holds the handle to the tank wall.

If your running toilet is hissing constantly then the water line in the tank might be set to high. This will cause the water to spill into the overflow tube. In order to lower the water level in your tank, bend the float arm down a little to keep the water about one inch below the top of the overflow pipe. Make sure to flush the toilet after adjusting the float arm to ensure enough water is reaching the bowl.

If the toilet starts running periodically in between uses, or if you hear gurgling sounds then you might have a leaking flush valve. The best way to diagnose a leak in the flush valve is to add food coloring to the tank and wait 15-20 minutes. If you see color in the bowl then you should repair the flush valve seal.