Fix that Pesky Running Toilet!

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A running toilet is not only annoying to hear, but it will definitely show on your water bill. Most often, a running toilet requires some simple replacements. Before you think of going to the plumber, a few simple steps are necessary to fix the problem, and it is something anyone can do.

Compromised Flapper

The flapper of the toilet is the most common cause for running toilets. If you open the lid of the toilet, you'll notice a stopper like the one shown below.

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Image from

There are some instances where cleaning the flap is all you need to do, so check for any dirt or debris before replacing. If the flap is clean, however, then it may be a larger problem.

In the case of running toilets, check to see if there is any water damage to the flapper. This can be a problem with older toilets, and water most often eats away the structure of the flapper. If you notice flapper damage, it needs to be replaced. You can test the flap by pressing down on the flapper, and if water stops slipping through the bowl, it will need to be replaced.

You can replace the old flapper by turning off the water valve and flushing the toilet to completely remove water from the tank, then you're going to detach the chain and hinges from the flapper. Afterwards, remove the flapper and attach the new one by first attaching the chain and affixing the hinges in place. Connect the chain to the flush handle arm and turn the water back on.

The Chain

The chain connect to the flapper can also be a problem. Check to see if the chain is untangled in any way by flushing the toilet. There should be adequate length for the chain when the flapper is in position. If not, try and untangle the chain. Damage to the chain itself can also be an issue, such as broken chain link, or if it is rusted. In this case, the chain itself will need to be replaced. You can fix the chain quickly by using a paperclip or string to tie together the broken chain until you can find a new one.

Float Assembly

Sometimes a running toilet will not be as simple as replacing the flapper and chain. But before you go about replacing the float assembly, you can conduct a test by checking the water level. The ideal water level should be at least a half-inch below the overflow tube. Also, if you notice that the ball at the end of the extension rod has water inside, then it will need to be replaced as well. This can be done by simply unscrewing the ball from the arm and replacing it with a new one. For replacing the entire ball-cock diaphragm, simply unscrew the four screws located on the top-plate.

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Photo from qssupplies

If there is water reaching the overflow, however, then you'll know that the float assembly is to blame. You can extend the length of the float rod to stop the overflow, but if that does not work, then you'll need to entirely replace the float assembly. The below image is not what every toilet looks like, but it will point you in the right direction.

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Image from Extraordinary Rocketeer

Do as you normally would by shutting off the water valve and flushing the toilet. You can dry the water inside with a cloth. Look for a nut at the bottom of the float assembly and remove it. Follow by removing the float arm from the overflow tube to remove the assembly. When all is removed, install the new float assembly by connecting the floating arm to the overflow tube and screw in the nut. When finished, simply turn on the water valve and adjust the float accordingly.

And lastly, take any old parts with you to the hardware store to know you're getting an exact match.

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