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Last Updated on August 6, 2022 by acechapman
What’s the most common problem in your bathroom? That’s right, a wimpy flush. Let me show you how to solve that and other issues with a simple four-step strategy. This four-step strategy will help you how to fix a running toilet. You’ll be flushing like a pro in no time!
Toilets have been around for 80 years and have changed very little. After a flush, water still fills up the tank, which lifts a float that turns off the water when it reaches a certain level. A lever still opens a flapper to cause the flush, falling back into place when the water level falls.
That’s right, folks; the bathroom is one of the most popular places for plumbing problems. It seems like we can’t go a day without having to deal with too-wimpy flushes, toilets that won’t stop running, and bowls that don’t refill.
You can try fixing slight plumbing problems yourself, or you can take a step back and let our ace plumbing consultant teach you the first three steps he uses to solve 95% of these problems. The first three steps will take about five minutes and will usually solve most problems.
The fourth step is easy, but not always. I’ll get to this in a bit. These steps work for most toilets, but not pressure-assist models. If your toilet won’t stop running, here’s what you should do:
4 Steps To Fixing Your Running Toilet
1. Check the fill tube
If you find your toilet overflowing, don’t panic! The fill tube is a small flexible tube that runs from the fill valve to the toilet overflow tube. While the tank refills, this tube squirts enough water down the overflow tube to refill the bowl after a flush. The bowl won’t fill when the tube falls off or when the water stream misses the overflow tube. This leads to a wimpy flush, meaning that it won’t develop a strong siphon.
Once you’ve reattached the fill tube and pushed it onto the fill valve, place it 1 inch over the overflow tube and watch the water stream down. Flush, and if everything is in order, you’ll see the water go down the toilet overflow without a hitch!
2. Adjust the Fill Height by Checking the Float
The adjustable float in the tank is what controls the water level. If it’s set too low, you’ll end up with a weak flush. If it’s set too high, water will spill into the overflow tube and won’t stop filling. Does your toilet keep running? We have just the solution to help you stop the madness. Next time, when you go to the toilet, take a moment and see if there’s a fill level mark on the back of your tank. If you can’t find it, measure out about one inch from the overflow tube and make a mark.
If the water doesn’t reach and stop at that mark, you’ll need to adjust your toilet tank float. To do this, either raise or lower it until the water reaches and stops at the mark. Old toilets might need a little adjustment as well-just bend that brass rod connecting to your float ball until it’s in the right position. With newer toilets, you usually turn a screw or slide a clip along a rod. Flush the toilet after each adjustment and keep adjusting the float until the water shuts off at the proper level.
We recommend that you use an inch or two of water to avoid the dreaded “critical level” issue. You can also adjust the height of the valve to give you more space for water. Sometimes, your toilet’s fill valve will get stuck, leaving the water running until it floods your bathroom. This is because the valve is defective. To fix it, turn off the water supply to the tank. You can change out the valve in 15 minutes- no need to worry about matching old parts!
3. Adjust the Flush Handle/Flapper Chain
Flapper chains that are too short or tangled will prevent the flapper from closing, which means water will continue to leak into the tank. The fill valve is forced to cycle on and off in order to keep the tank full. If you’re struggling to flush the toilet, it’s probably because it’s too long, which means the flapper is not opening wide enough.
If you want to avoid “low water in the toilet bowl” and other problems, make sure the linkage is adjusted to leave only a slight bit of slack when the flapper is closed. Cut off any excess chain at the rod to leave only about an inch so it won’t tangle. Make sure that the rod does not strike the lid and that it is in a straight line with the tank and flush handle. If it is not, gently bend it down and readjust the chain. That’s all there is to it!
4. Replace the Flapper
If your toilet keeps running, it’s probably because your flapper is worn out. To find out how to stop it from overflowing, turn off the water and remove the old flapper. Take it to the store to find an exact replacement. These flappers are designed with a “snap” that goes over the overflow tube. Others have a ring that slips over the tube.
The range of flappers has mushroomed over the last 15 years, and you may find an overwhelming number of options on the store shelf. Some packages include specific brand and model information, so make sure to note this before you leave home! If you can’t find the exact replacement for your old toilet flapper, try the closest one and pick up a universal type as well. They’re cheap, and the extra one just might save you a second trip to the store! (Avoid the “adjustable” types unless you’re replacing an adjustable one.)
It’s not hard to install a new flapper, but it is hard to fix an old one. If your toilet keeps running or runs intermittently, check the seals. You may need a different flapper.
If you’re still struggling to find a flapper that seals, consider replacing the entire toilet overflow tube/flapper. It’s not difficult and you won’t need any special tools, but it’ll take you about an hour. At least then you’ll avoid that pricey plumber service call!