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How to Fix a Running Toilet

When a toilet won’t stop running, it can be a huge annoyance and waste both water and money. Fortunately, most of the time the problem is a minor one that can be fixed relatively easily. Replacing a flapper, adjusting the chain, and reattaching the handle are three of the more common solutions to stop a running toilet. 

Before beginning any repairs, it’s important to shut off the water supply to the toilet. Locate the toilet’s shutoff valve, usually located behind it or behind it and above the floor, and turn it. Also, make sure that the toilet tank is empty before starting any repairs. Put a towel down near the base of the toilet and then flush it to empty the tank.

Replace the Flapper

A faulty flapper is the most common cause of a running toilet. The flapper is the piece that covers the flush hole at the bottom of the tank and is connected to the trip lever, or the lever you press to flush the toilet. Remove the flapper by unhooking it from the trip lever and water supply line. Replace it with a new one and reattach it to the trip lever and water supply line. If the tank is too low, the flapper may not have enough strength to close the flush hole and turn off the water supply. If this is the case, purchase an adjustable flapper to increase the water level. 

Adjust the Chain

Another common issue that can cause a running toilet is an incorrectly adjusted chain. The chain is connected to the flapper and the trip lever and should hang in a slightly curved “S” shape with just enough slack so the flapper can close the flush hole completely. If the chain is too long, it can bind and keep the flapper from sealing the flush hole. To fix this, disconnect the chain from the trip lever and shorten it as needed. 

Inspect the Float 

The float is the device that regulates the water level in the tank. If the float is stuck in the ‘up’ position or is cracked, the water level in the tank will be too high, causing the toilet to run. To check the float, see if it’s floating freely in the tank and if it moves up and down as the water level changes. If it isn’t moving correctly or is cracked, replace it. 

Secure the Handle

The handle can also be a culprit of a running toilet. If the handle is loose or not equipped correctly, it may not be holding the flapper in place and sealing the flush hole. To fix this, remove the handle from the side of the tank and reattach it. Make sure everything is secure and then turn on the water supply to refill the tank. 

Adjust the Fill Valve

The fill valve regulates the amount of water that enters the toilet tank. If the fill valve is set at too high a level, the toilet will keep running. To adjust the fill valve, locate the adjustment screw on the top and turn it clockwise to lower the water level. Test the toilet by flushing it and checking the water level in the tank. If it’s still running, turn the screw further in a clockwise direction. 

Other Possible Causes

Finally, if the running toilet is still not resolved, it could be a sign of bigger issues. In these cases, it is best to contact a professional as soon as possible to remedy the problem and avoid further damage. A professional plumber will be able to diagnose the issue and suggest the best course of action. 

By following the steps outlined above, a running toilet can often be fixed in a few easy steps. Replacing the flapper, adjusting the chain, and tightening the handle are all common solutions and generally take just a few minutes to complete. However, if the problem persists or appears to be more serious, contact a plumber as soon as possible.

Looking for a Plumber in Harrisburg?

WM Buffington is experienced in addressing all types of plumbing issues, from a running toilet to a clogged sink, broken pipes, and more. We offer prompt, affordable services and have our trained technicians ready to resolve those pesky plumbing problems! Give us a call today and let us know how we can help!

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