Ever flush your loo then hear that dreaded sound as it doesn’t stop filling? Maybe you “jiggle the handle” to see if it helps? Well it is a great idea to learn how your toilet works so that you may fix it yourself. Knowing how to fix your toilet, instead of calling a plumber each time your toilet starts to run saves you time and money. Fixing it right away also saves water. Below are step-by-step instructions to help you learn how to fix a running toilet on your own.
Step 1: Take the time to learn how your toilet works
Fortunately, fixing a running toilet does not have to be a time-consuming or expensive process. It can be an easy fix, provided that you have taken the time to learn how your toilet works. Each type of toilet has a different structure, but the way in which toilets function is essentially the same.
Remove the lid from the tank and identify the flapper that lifts when you push the handle. This flapper allows a tankful of water to fall through the opening at the bottom of the tank and go into the toilet bowl.
Identify the plastic float in your toilet tank. When all goes well, the water in the holding tank drains and this float drops, signaling for water to refill the tank. As the water in the tank fills up, the float rises and signals for the water to stop filling the tank.
Identify the overflow tube that is usually in the middle of the toilet tank. If all goes well, this tube drains excess tank water into the toilet bowl.
Step 2: Ensure that the water in the tank is at the water line
One cause of a continuously running toilet is not having the water in the tank at the water line. If the water is not at the water line, check your water valve. If your water valve is not entirely on, change this. Upon turning it on all the way, the water in your tank should start filling up to the water line.
Step 3: Make sure the flapper is closed
If the toilet does not stop running long after using it, there is a good chance that the flapper might not have closed all the way. Close the flapper manually to solve this problem. To help ensure that the flapper does not get stuck open again, check that the chain on the flapper is not tangled up or caught on other toilet parts. Prevent further tangles by threading a plastic straw through the flapper chain; also, consider replacing the chain altogether with a loop made out of dental floss.
Step 4: Make sure the float is adjusted
If adjusting the water in the toilet tank to reach the water line and making sure the flapper was closing properly did not work, then check up on the float and make sure it is adjusted properly. First, make sure it is functioning by pulling it up with your hand; if it is working, this should stop the water flow. Make the necessary adjustments to the float so that the tank stops filling a half an inch to an inch below the top of the overflow tube. This ensures that water will not be leaking into the bowl. If the float is close to the valve post, pinch the clip so that you may slide it away and down the wire.
Step 5: Fix and prevent any slow toilet leaks
If you have tried all of these options yet your toilet is still running, then it could have a small leak in it. To check whether your toilet has a leak, put some food coloring in the toilet tank and avoid flushing the toilet for a few hours. After these few hours have passed and the food coloring has transferred to the toilet bowl, you will know whether there is a leak.
If this is the case, make sure that your flapper is not leaky; you may have to replace a decaying rubber part. If the flapper is not breaking down, you may try using steel wool to clean buildup off both the flapper and the rim it sits upon.
Jared Miret, home handyman and husband is happy to share the joy of home improvement with you. He knows leaky toilets are something that need fixing right away, as he has spent way too much time repairing water damage in Houston because of leaks.