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Simple steps to identify the cause of a running toilet and how to stop it.
BY: Jean Nayar
A running toilet can occur for any number of reasons, but solving the problem is generally very easy. So easy, in fact, that no tools are required. If you’ve got a toilet that just won’t quit running, here are some simple steps to take to stop it.
Flathead screwdriver (optional as needed)
Float ball (optional as needed)
Flapper (optional as needed)
1. Check the mechanisms.
Remove the lid from the tank of your running toilet. The mechanisms on different toilets vary but all work on the same principal. Depress the flush handle to lift the lever with the chain attached to the end. The chain is connected to a flapper over the flush valve at the bottom of the tank. Check to see if the chain is twisted and holding the flapper up. If so, untangle the chain, and the flapper should drop securely over the valve. Then, the toilet should stop running.
2. Adjust the float.
If the tank is full, the flap is down and water is running over the top of the overflow tube, try adjusting the float that controls the water level by pulling up on it with your hand. If doing so stops the flow, then adjust the level of the float by pinching the float clip and sliding the float so that it stops the water at the water level line and not above it. If the float is a ball and arm, use a screwdriver to turn the screws at the top of the valve to lower the ball height. Make sure the float ball isn't touching anything else. Also be sure the float ball isn't leaking or filling with water. If it is, replace the float ball.
3. Check the flapper.
If the toilet is still running, the tank is full, the chain is straight and the flapper is closed, then turn off the water at the toilet’s shut-off valve. Remove the flapper at the hinge from the flush valve with your hands. Inspect the bottom of the flapper for damage or discoloration. If it’s damaged, replace the flapper with a new one made by the toilet’s original manufacturer. If it’s discolored and there’s a float on the chain, adjust the float so that it’s in alignment with the waterline. Turn the water valve back on, then flush the toilet to test it, and the flapper should fall securely over the valve, fixing the running toilet.
Jean Nayar is a licensed real estate agent and design journalist who’s authored nine books on decorating and design, including Green Living by Design, the best-selling Staged to Sell (or Keep) and The Happy Home Project: A Practical Guide to Adding Style and Substance to Your Home. The former editor in chief of Kitchens & Baths, Easy Decorating and Remodeling & Makeovers blogs at TheHappyHomeWorkshop.com about living with style, sustainability and substance.