How to Stop a Running Toilet

You lay down after a day of work ready to snuggle up in your covers and get some much-deserved rest, but as you try to drift off to sleep, you are continuously annoyed by the sound of running water. It’s the toilet again, and like a kid at bedtime, it just can’t seem to get enough water. A continuously running toilet is enough to drive anyone crazy, but with our easy to follow tips, you can fix your toilet with inexpensive parts that you can find at your local hardware store.

The picture below should help you identify parts that we talk about later on if you’re not familiar with the parts inside your toilet tank.

labeled toilet parts

The parts listed in the image are as follows:

  1. Float
  2. Flush valve
  3. Float arm
  4. Supply tube
  5. Fill tube
  6. Flapper
  7. Bowl refill tube
  8. Flush handle
  9. Flapper chain
  10. Water fill line
  11. Float adjustment screw
  12. Flush valve

Make Sure the Fill Tube is Properly Connected

The fill tube (number 5 on the image) sprays water down the overflow tube to refill the bowl for the next time after you flush the toilet. If the tube falls off, it’s unlikely that it will cause your toilet to run, but it will cause your toilet flushes to be a lot weaker, so it’s a good one to check on since your already in there.

Adjust the Float Height

The float in the image above (number 1) is a ball-type float. If your toilet has one of these, you can set the water height by bending the rod up or down until it shuts off the fill valve at the correct water level.

If your toilet has a circular, black, plastic part connected to the stem of the fill valve, then there will be a clip and rod on the side that you use to adjust the water level. It’s important to make sure that the float is set at the right height because if it is too high, it will continuously fill the tank with water and spill over the overflow tube into the bowl causing that dreaded running sound. To fix this, one look at the back wall of the tank on the inside. There should be a line for how high the water in the tank should be. Transfer this mark to the overflow tube, so it’s easier to see and judge the level. Now adjust your float up or down until the water fills to the line you made after each flush.

Adjust the Flapper Chain

If your flapper chain (number 9 on image) is too short or is tangled, it will hold the flapper (number 6 on image) open which will continually drain water out of the tank and into the bowl. Adjust the flapper chain so that there is slight slack when the handle is up. Make sure not to make the chain too long either as that won’t allow enough water into the bowl for each flush and will cause weak flushes.

Replace the Flapper

If you tried all these and your toilet is still running, then the flapper (number 6 on image) is probably the problem. Flappers can wear out as they age and won’t create a perfect seal anymore which allows water to trickle into the bowl. Luckily this one is an easy fix as well.

Turn the water supply to your toilet off and disconnect the flapper. Before you head to the hardware store, make sure you write down the brand and model of your toilet. Many flappers will have the toilets they are compatible with listed on the package, so having this information is helpful. If you can’t find a flapper compatible with yours, then look for a universal one and compare it with the flapper on your toilet to see which is closest. Make sure that the new flapper attaches to the toilet the same way your old one did as well. Some clip on to the base of the overflow tube and others have a ring attached that slips over the top of the tube.

Tired of Chasing that Running Toilet? We Can Help

If you’re tired of tinkering with that running toilet, don’t despair. Our plumbers at Albuquerque Plumbing Heating & Cooling can take care of it for you. When your toilet won’t stop running or for any other plumbing repair you can call on us.

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