How to Stop A Running Toilet (Updated)

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A toilet that continues to run after it is flushed not only wastes water but is at risk of overflowing. When a toilet overflows, water damage to your home happens fast. Learn how to fix a running toilet to protect your household and cut back on water waste in your home – Apollo Home’s licensed emergency Cincinnati plumbers share the steps to take when you notice a running toilet.

What Causes a Running Toilet?

In order to stop a running toilet, you have to find the problem that allows water to continue to flow. There are a few common issues that cause a toilet to run, including:

  • Stuck lever
  • Chain malfunction
  • Flapper malfunction
  • Float valve setting

Stuck Toilet Lever

When you flush the toilet lever to empty the toilet bowl of waste, it should remain depressed for only a short period of time, then move back into place. The lever controls the mechanisms within the bowl that allow it to flush. If the toilet level becomes stuck in the flushing position, the toilet continues to run in a never-ending flush!

If the toilet is constantly running, first check the bowl’s lever. Verify that it is not stuck in the flush position. If it is stuck, try to move it back into the correct position.

Toilet levers often begin to stick over time due to mineral deposits from water inside the tank. Toilet levers rust and break, which prevent them from correctly controlling a flush. Remove the old toilet lever and replace with a new one to ensure the bowl properly flushes.

Chain Malfunction

The toilet lever is connected to a chain inside the toilet tank, and this chain is connected to the flapper. When the lever is pressed, it raises the flapper to start a flush via the chain that connects the components. If the chain catches on internal tank components or becomes kinked, it is unable to close the flapper when the flush is done, so the toilet continues to run.

Remove the tank lid and check the chain. If it catches on tank components, remove some chain links to prevent snags. If the chain links have become kinked, straighten them out so the toilet chain is the proper length.

Flapper Malfunction

The flapper at the bottom of the toilet tank opens and closes to start and stop a flush. Flapper malfunctions such as leaks or jams allow for continuous toilet running.

  • Check around the flapper seal and remove any debris from the flapper or tank bottom that stops the flapper from making a tight seal.
  • Check the flapper hinges to ensure it fully opens and closes.
  • Inspect the condition of the flapper, looking for cracks and other damage that prevents a seal.

If your flapper is damaged, it needs to be replaced. Follow these instructions to replace this toilet component:

Turn off water supply to the toilet via the nearby shutoff valve

  • Remove the tank lid
  • Flush the toilet and allow the tank to fully empty.
  • Remove the old flapper and detach its chain from the toilet lever
  • Attach the new flapper to the connector and link its chain to the toilet lever
  • Turn on the water supply at the shutoff valve and flush the toilet
  • Verify the new flapper has a tight seal

Improper Float Valve Setting

The float valve is that big rubber ball on a stick inside your toilet tank – its job is to stop waterflow once water level in the tank reaches a set point. If it is set too high, water continuously runs because the tank becomes too full and empties through the overflow tube.

You need to adjust the float to a lower water level if it is too high. Stopping a constantly running toilet this way depends on the type of float valve:

  • If the float’s rod has a clip, squeeze it to adjust its position on the rod to lower its setting.
  • For older float valves with no clip, carefully bend the metal rod to position the float slightly deeper into the tank.

Flush and allow the toilet bowl to refill, then check the tank’s water lever – you want water to stop about a half-inch to one-inch below the overflow tube’s top. Continue to make adjustments to the float until you reach the right water level in the tank.

For Toilet Repairs, Call Apollo Home!

Depending on the issue at hand, stopping a toilet that runs involves some minor plumbing repairs. The repairs discussed above are possible for a plumbing-savvy homeowner, but if that’s not you, don’t hesitate to call our Cincinnati toilet repair plumbers. Apollo Home’s licensed plumbers are available to make needed toilet repairs that stop water waste and prevent overflow.

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