When you are faced with a complex plumbing problem or issue, it is usually best to contact a professional plumber.
However, there are some plumbing problems that even not-so-handy people can fix with just a little bit of time, money, the right tools, and a little effort. One such problem is a running toilet.
Below are three common problems that can cause the toilet to run, and how you can fix the problem.
This is the most common problem. There are three potential flapper problems. Before inspecting the flapper turn off the water. Then check for the cause of the problem:
- The flapper is not forming a tight seal because the chain attaching it to the flush lever is either too long or too short. This is an easy fix; just adjust the chain until the flapper seals properly. You may need to use wire cutters to shorten the chain.
- There is a mineral buildup that is preventing the flapper from sealing properly. If you notice a buildup, remove the flapper, and gently scrape the build-up from the flush valve that the flapper seats against.
- The flapper is somehow damaged. That means a new flapper. Remove it and take it to the hardware store to make sure you get the exact same sized piece (just taking a picture of it may not be good enough). You should be able to get one for less than $10. Then follow the simple instructions to install it.
If the problem is not the flapper, it may be the float. If your toilet’s overflow tube is taking on water, that means your water level is higher than normal, which facilitates running. The fix is simple. Take a pair of pliers and turn the float’s control screw counterclockwise until the water level stabilizes an inch or more below the overflow tube.
Fill valve issues are more complicated and potentially more expensive (although you should be able to get a replacement for less than $40). First, shut off the toilet’s water flush and then use pliers or an adjustable wrench to disconnect the service line. Dry the inside of the tank. Remove the old fill valve with the wrench. Then take it to the hardware store (taking a picture with your phone may not be good enough) and buy a replacement. Follow the instructions to install it and then flush to test it is installed and working properly.