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Why is My Toilet Running?

A common problem among many households is a running toilet. While it may seem like an insignificant problem, a running toilet can not only be an annoyance but it can cost you hundreds of dollars in a short period of time. Thankfully, a running toilet is fairly easy to fix once you identify what needs to be fix or replaced within your toilet.

A running toilet is typically caused by one of five different factors that can be easily narrowed down with some good old fashioned process of elimination:

Flapper Seal/Flush Valve

The most common of the five possible problems that could cause your toilet to run is the failing of the flapper seal or flush valve. Older toilets have the traditional chain and flapper seal while more modern toilet parts use what is known as the flush valve. The flush valve is three parts in one compared to traditional toilet parts because it is made up of the flapper seal, overflow valve, and the flushing mechanism minus the chain. Regardless of whether your toilet contains modern or traditional parts, the seal allowing and prohibiting the flow of water from the tank to the bowl of your toilet can become old and warped; preventing a good seal. To determine if your flapper seal or flush valve needs replaced, put a few drops of food coloring in the tank of your toilet and wait a few minutes. If the dyed water in the tank of your toilet shows up in the bowl of your toilet without flushing it, that indicates an flapper seal or flush valve that needs to be replaced.

Overflow Valve

Bathroom tubs have to deal with a lot of hair as well. They are also susceptible to many different kinds of bar soaps. Believe it or not, a tiny chunk of bar soap can last quite a while in a drain, especially if it starts building up. Between hair and soap, which are akin to brick and mortar, tub drains can clog easily if you aren’t careful.

Flapper Chain

Another common problem is the flapper chain. When the toilet was initially installed, the flapper chain may have been too short or too long for your toilets handle causing the flapper seal itself not to fully close. If the chain is too short, it prohibits the flapper seal from fully shutting allowing water to continually run. If the chain is too long, it may get it in the way on the flapper seal closing and prevent it from establishing a water tight seal. To fix this problem, simply adjust the flapper chain’s length.

Leaky Fill Valve

On occasion, your toilet’s fill valve may have a leak that is causing your toilet to run continuously. To see if your fill valve has a leak, flush the toilet and lift up the float arm while the tank is refilling itself to stop the water. If the water continues to fill the tank and eventually flows into the overflow valve, then your fill valve has a leak and needs to be replaced.

Old or Corroded Toilet Handle

If you flush your toilet and your toilet handle remains down for an extended period of time, this is due to the toilet handle being stiff, old, and corroded. Leaving the handle of a toilet down allows the toilet to run for as long as the toilet’s handle remains in that down position. To fix this either loosen the toilet handle so it no longer sticks in place or replace any corroded parts so it works properly.

If after investigating these five potential problems you have yet to stop your toilet from continually running, consider calling a professional plumber to address the problem before you waste any more time and money.