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How to Fix a Toilet That Runs

How to Fix a Toilet That Runs

Are you frustrated by a toilet that runs randomly?

When toilets are working correctly, you won’t hear that annoying rush of water at the wrong times. The toilet won’t stop running? Our step-by-step guide and troubleshooting tips will help you resolve the issue quickly and efficiently.

This post will address the most common problems that cause a toilet to run. We will then look at the steps you can take to try and fix the problem yourself, as well as when you will need to call in a professional plumber. 


My Toilet Keeps Running

When a toilet works correctly, it goes through several stages simultaneously as soon as you press down on the flush handle. 

The handle is attached to the flapper by a length of chain. Once the handle is pressed, the chain lifts the flapper to send water from the tank into the bowl. As the water level in the tank lowers, the flapper settles back into place and seals the tank. When the water reaches the correct level, a float signals the valve to refill the tank.

There are four common reasons why the toilet keeps running after the flush. It could be due to the toilet flapper, the toilet chain, the float, or the refill tube.

Problem #1: Toilet Flapper Replacement

The toilet flapper may need to be replaced. Flappers showing wear and tear might not seal the tank properly and allow water to flow through at the wrong times. 

Flappers are made of rubber and may also show buildup over time from hard water or mineral deposits. This excess material could be preventing the flapper from sealing correctly too.

Problem #2: A BrokenToilet Chain 

Another common problem occurs with the toilet chain. Sometimes the chains can become tangled or caught within the tank. So, again, check to be sure the chain runs smoothly from the lever to the flapper.

The chain also needs to be the right length. The chain will prevent the flapper from lifting if it is too long. The flapper may stay open with a too-short chain and prevent the tank from sealing off.

Problem #3: Float Needs To Be Lowered

If the float is not in the correct position, it could cause the toilet to run randomly. For example, as the float signals the water valve to refill, the tank might fill with too much water if set too high. When this happens, the water falls into the overflow tube and causes the toilet to run.

Problem #4: The Refill Tube Needs To Be Moved

The refill tube is another place to check when you have a running toilet. This tube runs from the valve to the overflow tube, sending water into the bowl when it needs refilling after a flush. Again, too much water could flow into the bowl if this tube is out of place.

How to Fix a Running Toilet

There are four steps you can take to address a running toilet. Check the toilet flapper, chain, float, and refill tube to see if they are all functioning correctly.

Solution #1: Toilet Flapper Replacement

First, check the toilet flapper for signs of cracking or wear. Damaged flappers will prevent the seal of water from the tank.

If the flapper seems intact, ensure it is free of mineral deposit buildup from hard water exposure. Remove the flapper and clean it thoroughly with soap and water if this is the case.

Once you have confirmed the flapper is intact and clean, try flushing the toilet. If the running continues, move on to the next step.

Solution #2: Broken Toilet Chain 

Check the toilet chain to see if this is causing the toilet to run. The chain should be firmly attached to the flush handle and the flapper. 

Flush the toilet and watch the chain to see if it lifts the flapper appropriately. If the chain isn’t lifting because it’s too long, remove some links with pliers or resettle the chain through a different link. When the chain is too short and keeps the flapper open, you may need to purchase and install a new chain to fit.

If the chain is intact and functioning at the correct length, you should check the float next.

Solution #3: Float Needs To Be Lowered

The float is the next step in trying to resolve a running toilet. The float shows how high the water rises in the tank after a flush and should sit below the refill tube. Check the tank’s water level to ensure the water is set no higher than an inch from the top of the overfill tube. 

Water levels above the overfill tube can be adjusted by finding the screw attached to the float. Turn it in small, gradual increments one at a time. After each adjustment, flush the toilet and watch to see if the water level change has fixed the problem.

If the float is appropriately adjusted and you still hear running water, it is time to check the refill tube.

Solution #4: The Refill Tube Needs To Be Moved

Fixing a running toilet may also come down to the placement of the refill tube. It should extend from the refill valve directly above the overflow tube. Ensure both sides are secured to prevent the overflow tube from inadvertently filling with water.

Hold the refill tube in place by clipping it to the side of the refill tube.

If adjusting the refill tube doesn’t solve the issue, something else may occur within the toilet.

Toilet Won’t Stop Running

If these steps don’t solve your problem, it is time to call a trained plumber. Feel free to contact a professional if you are hesitant to undertake these tasks.

Professional plumbers are trained to find and fix the problem, so you don’t have to. They can address a running toilet and other issues, such as a toilet tank not filling with water

If you see or suspect an issue with your toilet, don’t leave it alone. Ignoring these issues can lead to higher water bills and increased problems.

4 Service Pros are trained and fully licensed professional plumbers in Northern Virginia. If you have any problems or want to speak with a professional, contact 4 Service Pros to book your same-day or next-day service immediately.