Why Does My Toilet Keep Running?

Why Is My Toilet Running

When you’re finished using the toilet, you just want to wash your hands and stroll – not deal with a mystery. But sometimes your toilet decides to treat you to a real head-scratcher nonetheless. It continues running long after the bowl has been filled, and you can’t imagine why it would start doing so.

A constantly running toilet doesn’t just sound annoying. It’s also wasteful, as a running toilet is easily capable of sending one gallon of water down the drain every hour. Although tap water usually only costs $0.004 per gallon, that adds up to about $3 a month or $35 a year!

Fortunately, a running toilet is a plumbing problem that even an absolute novice is able to fix on their own. Here are the four most common reasons for a running toilet and how to take care of them yourself!

Please note that toilet repairs become much easier if you attempt them after you have (A) shut off the water supply to the toilet and (B) subsequently flushed the toilet to drain it completely.

Something Is Wrong With the Float Ball

Its float ball is equivalent to your toilet’s sensory organ. Because it is buoyant, the float ball tells your toilet exactly how high the water has risen in the tank. When the float ball has risen high enough, it automatically closes the connected valve to complete the filling process.

If the float ball is set too high – or fails to float on top of the water, because the float arm suspending it is malfunctioning – then rising water will not cause it to close the valve. In effect, your toilet never knows when its tank has filled and resorts to sending water into the bowl via the overflow tube. (Thank goodness for that overflow tube, which prevents water from spilling out of the top of the tank and onto the floor.)

Fixing this problem is easy. Begin by adjusting the float arm so it positions the float ball at the desired point which the tank should fill to; a single screw should control this adjustment. But if the float ball is submerged in water and the float arm is not keeping it there, then it has lost its buoyancy and must be replaced.

Something Is Wrong With the Refill Tube

A toilet’s refill tube prevents its tank from overflowing by directing excess water into the overflow tube and down into the bowl. If the refill tube is malfunctioning, it can constantly direct water down into the bowl – intermittently treating you to a symphony of running water all day long.

The refill tube is one of the most easily fixed toilet parts. Begin by checking to see if the refill tube is positioned above the overflow tube. If it’s so long that it extends down into the overflow tube, it is likely to constantly siphon water out of the tank and into the bowl. You may trim this soft plastic component until it is the correct length, or you may use an inexpensive metal clip to keep the refill tube securely positioned at the ideal height above the overflow tube.

Something Is Wrong With the Flapper

The aptly named flapper is the flap of rubber that rests on top of the flush valve. When you push down on the flush lever, you’re pulling a chain that is connected to the flapper. This breaks the seal the flapper has created against the flush valve, thus allowing water stored into the tank to run down into the bowl.

If the flapper is not resting directly atop the flush valve or worn away due to regular use, it will no longer create an effective seal. Water from the tank will perpetually flow down into the bowl as the result.

The flapper is not an expensive toilet part. If yours is malfunctioning for any reason, outright replacement is the fastest and easiest solution. Just remove the old flapper by detaching its chain and removing it from its pins, and then replace it with the new one.

Note that if your new or existing flapper’s chain is too long, then it may fail to engage with the flush lever or get stuck beneath the flapper to ruin its seal. Tying a couple of knots in the chain is a simple way to shorten it! But if your chain is too short, it will prevent the flapper from lying flat against the flush valve when the toilet is not in use. In this case, a longer replacement chain is needed.

Something Is Wrong With the Tank-to-Bowl Gasket

Your toilet has a simple gasket separating its tank from its bowl. This supple component may dry and crack with enough time. In this state, it is unable to create an effective seal, and water will constantly flow from the tank into the bowl as the result. Replacing a tank-to-bowl gasket is a somewhat more involved repair for a running toilet, as it requires disconnecting the tank from the bowl.

Unfortunately, not every toilet repair is quite so straightforward as these. If you have a serious problem with your toilet, plumbing, fixtures, sump pump, or anything else you need to enjoy reliable running water in the greater Sioux Falls area, then we welcome you to contact PrairieSons today!