Advice on fixing that pesky running toilet problem

November 18, 2013

Who hasn’t heard a running toilet and wailed “Somebody make it stop—please!” at some point in their life? We’ve all been there. You flush the toilet and a minute later, you notice it’s still running...and running and running. The irritating sound of a leaking toilet tank is enough to drive even the most patient person to distraction, so here are a few quick and easy ways to get your running toilet to give you a break.

Advice on fixing that pesky running toilet problem

Check the tank

First, remove the tank cover from the rear part of the toilet and set it down somewhere out of the way. Take a look inside the reservoir, and that’s where we will begin to solve the problem. Flush your toilet with the tank cover off a couple of times to get a look at how the process works.

Check the flapper

In the bottom of the toilet tank, there is a small rubber seal that flaps up and down, allowing water to go down into the toilet when necessary. It is called the flapper. The first thing you want to do when you hear your toilet running is to check the flapper. Poke the flapper up and down with a stick or your finger.

More often than not, when a toilet runs continuously, it is a result of the flapper being stuck in the up position. Gently push the flapper down to the closed position, and the water should stop running. Sometimes, the chain that allows the flapper to open and shut could be twisted or caught on something. Just gently untangle the chain and allow the flapper to close.

If the flapper stays down but still allows water to go out from the tank, you may want to replace it, because the seal is likely shot. Most hardware stores and home centres carry flappers. To replace one, shut off the water supply to the toilet (there’s usually a valve under the rear part of the toilet) and flush it to let the water run out. Then, unhook the old flapper and attach the new one to the chain in the toilet tank.

Check the system

If these tips haven’t helped you figure out how to get your toilet to stop running, consider this idea, commonly floated by home improvement specialists: turn off the water supply valve to the toilet and empty the tank through flushing.

When that is done, pour a litre of water into the tank from some other container and see if there is any water coming into the toilet bowl. If there is, the problem has nothing to do with the flapper or the float valve. If that is the case, your wisest move is to call in a local plumber. They are the experts in complex plumbing situations, including a pesky running toilet.

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