ABC Blog

Why Is My Toilet Running?

a running toilet

A toilet that constantly runs can cause all sorts of issues for your household. The sound is annoying and concerning, especially when you do not know what is causing the problem. Plus, a running toilet can also cost you a lot of money in excess water bills and waste water in the process. The last thing that any of us wants to pay for is water that we are not using!

Unfortunately, a running toilet is a typical problem that affects people in all kinds of homes. Pretty much any issue that allows water to leak out of some part of the toilet’s system can result in the toilet running. Here are some of the most common reasons this happens.

An Issue With the Lift Wire or Chain

Inside your toilet’s tank is a wire or chain that connects the toilet’s handle to the flush valve. It also controls the water that flows between the tank and toilet bowl. Your toilet can start having issues if this chain or wire is tangled, rusted or broken. If this is the case, untangling or replacing the chain should fix your problem.

A Damaged or Defective Flapper

The toilet flapper is a rubber or plastic disk or ball that covers the flush valve opening. This piece should prevent water from running between the tank and bowl until the flap is lifted. However, this flapper can sometimes become misaligned or can break down over time, resulting in leaks between the tank and bowl. When this happens, replacing the flapper usually resolves any issues with the running toilet. Another sign that this is your problem is if your toilet won’t flush all the way.

The valve between the tank and bowl can also become damaged and lead to leaks. When there is a leak in this area of the toilet, it is sometimes difficult for homeowners to know whether the flapper or valve is causing the problem without replacing both parts.

Problems With the Handle and Flush Rod

When you push the handle on the outside of your toilet, it should move a rod that starts the process of flushing. However, if these components become loose, then the toilet might not flush correctly. Then, you end up with that obnoxious running noise. If the handle or flush rod is your issue, then look for the mounting nut that is inside your tank, connected to the handle. You’ll want to tighten this connection to stop your toilet from running. Be sure to do this with caution to avoid breaking or damaging the connection by tightening it too much.

Beyond these common issues, there are also a number of other reasons that your toilet might be running. Toilets are surprisingly more complicated contraptions than they might seem. There are multiple different parts that could be malfunctioning and messing up the flushing process. Here are some of the components that could be causing your problem.

A Damaged Seal

There is a wax ring at the bottom of the base of the toilet that should create an air-tight seal between the toilet and a drain opening in the floor. If the seal gets damaged or starts wearing out over time, then liquid can start leaking out through this connection.

The Float Is at the Wrong Height or Is Water-Logged

The float is an essential part of your toilet, which detects when water is in the right level in the tank and signals for the water supply to stop flowing in. If the float is not at the right level, then too much water gets in the tank each time it refills and can leak out through the overflow tube, which can also lead to your toilet overflowing at the tank. Lowering the float should fix the issue.

However, it is also possible that the float is water-logged. This can happen if water gets trapped in the float, causing it to sit lower in the water. Sometimes, you can release the water by unscrewing the float and shaking it. But, if that does not work, then it is best to replace the float.

A Refill or Overflow Tube Issue

Another problem could be that the refill tube is too long or is not in the right place in the overflow tube. This can cause water to continuously pump into the toilet bowl.

There Is a Problem With the Toilet Bowl Itself

As with any component, it is possible that your toilet bowl is defective, cracked or damaged in some other way. However, a more common problem involves the bowl’s curved trap. If this trap gets clogged, it can lead to a variety of issues.

A Supply Problem Involving the Water Supply Valve, Supply Tube or Shutoff Valve

Another place a leak could occur is at the shutoff valve, which supplies water to the toilet through a pipe on the outside of the toilet tank. If this component breaks down, then it can keep you from being able to shut off the water supply to your toilet.

Similarly, the supply tube that runs from the shutoff valve to the tank can become loose or wear out, leading to leaks. In addition, the water supply valve that controls the water level in the tank and allows fresh water to enter the tank can also be the culprit in many toilet leak cases.

With many of these toilet issues, fixing the problem is often messy and time-consuming. That is why it is often easiest to let a plumber handle these issues, so you and your family do not have to worry.

a toilet that runs intermittently

Why is My Toilet Running Intermittently?

If your toilet randomly starts and stops running, there are usually a few different things that could be wrong.

The Toilet Flapper Has Gone Bad

The flapper should create a tight seal between the tank and bowl. But, since this part is typically made of rubber or plastic, it can wear out and crack over time. When this happens, water can slowly seep out of the tank little by little and your toilet might leak when flushed.

The Chain Is the Wrong Length or Is Caught on Something

In your toilet’s tank, there should be a chain or wire connected to the flapper, which lifts the flapper when you flush. Sometimes, this chain is too short or gets caught on something. So, it keeps the flapper open and allows water to continue flowing out of the tank. Something similar can happen if the chain is too long and gets caught under the flapper or is so long that it never lifts the flapper. Another sign that this is your problem is if your toilet flushes twice.

The Refilling Tube or Float Needs Repositioning

If the float is at too high of a level or the refill tube is too long, then your toilet might run continually or run on and off.

Each of these issues are usually pretty easy to fix. You can either replace the malfunctioning part or change the position of the component that is causing problems. However, if these simple solutions do not resolve the issue, then there could be something more complicated going on with your system. In which case the best thing to do is to hire a plumbing professional. They can diagnose the issue and take care of everything for you before the plumbing problem gets bigger.

a toilet in a white bathroom

How to Change a Toilet Flapper

Changing a toilet flapper is typically a simple process, but it is important to follow a few pointers to avoid creating a messy problem:

  • First, buy a replacement flapper at your local hardware store. Make sure it is the right size for your model of toilet.
  • Turn the shutoff valve to close off the supply of water to your toilet. Then, flush the toilet to empty water out of the tank.
  • Remove the old flapper and replace it with the new one. Make sure to reattach the new flapper to the chain that is connected to the flush rod or lever.
  • Turn the water back on, flush the toilet and watch the flapper as it closes to make sure everything is working. The new flapper should close completely and form a tight seal over the opening to the toilet bowl.

Replacing the toilet flapper might fix the issue of a running toilet. But too often, homeowners find that they actually have multiple problems that are causing their toilet to run. It might seem like replacing the flapper has fixed the problem, but this might only be a temporary solution. Meanwhile, the other issues that have been causing your toilet to run could be getting worse.

This is why it is wise to contact a licensed specialist for any plumbing issues. They have the expert skills and tools to perform a thorough inspection of your plumbing system. Then, they can efficiently take care of any plumbing issues you are currently experiencing.

ABC Can Get Your Toilet Working Properly Again

Dealing with a toilet problem can be frustrating and confusing. Instead of trying to learn how to repair your toilet, contact ABC Home & Commercial Services. Our highly trained professionals will be able to quickly diagnose your plumbing problem and then get to work on fixing it. We even offer 24/7 services for emergency repairs.

Learn More