Fixing a Running Toilet: Troubleshooting and Repair Tips


A running toilet is not only an annoyance but can lead to water wastage and increased utility bills. Fortunately, many common causes of a running toilet can be easily diagnosed and repaired without the need for professional assistance.

In this article, we’ll explore various troubleshooting steps and repair tips that can help you fix a running toilet.

Common Causes of a Running Toilet

A running toilet can happen for a variety of reasons, but three common culprits are flapper valve problems, faulty fill valves, and float ball problems.

Flapper valve problem

The flapper valve is responsible for sealing the tank and preventing water from flowing into the bowl when not in use. Over time, the flapper valve can become worn, misaligned, or damaged, causing water to continuously leak into the bowl.

Defective fill valve

The water level in the tank is regulated by the fill valve. If the fill valve malfunctions, it might close properly, resulting in continuous water flow and a toilet that keeps running.

The float ball problem

The fill valve in the tank is connected to a float ball or float cup that moves up as the water level increases. If this component is faulty or not positioned correctly, it may not signal the fill valve to close, leading to a continuous flow of water into the tank.

Troubleshooting a Running Toilet

Before proceeding with repairs, it is important to resolve the problem and identify the specific cause. Here are some steps you can take to solve the problem of a running toilet:

Checking the flapper valve

Start by removing the tank lid and inspecting the flapper valve. Make sure the flapper is properly aligned and free of any debris or mineral deposits. If necessary, clean the flapper or consider replacing it if it appears damaged.

Inspecting the fill valve

Next, check the fill valve for any signs of damage or malfunction. Make sure that the float arm is not bent or blocked and that the valve is securely fixed to the water supply line. If the fill valve seems to be faulty, it might require fixing or replacing.

Checking the float ball

Inspect the float ball or float cup and make sure it moves freely without obstruction. If the float ball is damaged or misaligned, it may require adjustment or replacement to restore proper function.

Repairing a Running Toilet


Once you identify the cause of the running toilet, you can proceed with the necessary repairs. Here are some repair tips for common problems:

Flapper valve replacement

If you notice that the flapper valve is worn out or damaged, it is advisable to replace it. Start by turning off the water supply, draining the tank, and removing the old flapper valve. Then, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to install a new flapper valve and ensure that it is properly sealed.

Fixing or replacing the fill valve

To fix a faulty fill valve, you can first try cleaning or adjusting it. If cleaning and adjusting does not solve the problem, the fill valve may need to be replaced. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to properly install a new fill valve.

Adjust or replace the float ball

For float ball problems, adjust the float arm or float cup to the appropriate level. If the float ball is damaged, replacing it with a new one can solve the running toilet problem. Adjust or replace the float ball as needed.

Preventing Running Toilet Issues

Taking preventative measures can help avoid ongoing toilet problems in the future. Consider the following tips:

Regular maintenance

Perform periodic maintenance by inspecting your toilet components and quickly fixing any minor problems. This can prevent potential problems from developing into major ongoing toilet concerns.

Ensuring proper fill valve function

Check the water pressure in your home and make sure it is within the recommended range. High water pressure can stress the fill valve, leading to premature wear. Consider installing a pressure regulator if necessary.

The Bottom Line

Fixing a running toilet doesn’t have to be a difficult task. By troubleshooting and repairing common problems like flapper valve malfunctions, faulty fill valves, and float ball problems, you can restore your toilet to proper functioning. Be sure to take preventative measures to avoid ongoing toilet problems in the future.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if my flapper valve is causing a running toilet?

If you see water constantly dripping into the bowl, the flapper valve is probably not sealing properly. Try checking the alignment and condition of the flapper valve.

Can I repair a fill valve, or should I replace it?

In some cases, cleaning or adjusting the fill valve may solve the problem. However, if the fill valve remains defective, it is recommended to replace it for long-term reliability.

What should I do if the float ball does not signal the fill valve to close?

If the float ball is misaligned or damaged, it may need adjustment or replacement. Make sure the float ball moves freely without any obstruction.

How often should I maintain my toilet to prevent ongoing problems?

Regular maintenance is recommended. Inspect your toilet components periodically and address any minor issues promptly so they don’t escalate into ongoing toilet problems.

Can high water pressure contribute to a running toilet?

Yes, high water pressure can stress the fill valve and cause premature wear. Make sure the water pressure in your home is within the recommended range. Consider installing a pressure regulator if necessary.

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Joel Lee

As a skilled content writer, I specialize in creating informative and engaging articles focused on handyman-related jobs. With extensive experience in the field, my aim is to provide practical tips and valuable insights that will help readers easily tackle any home improvement task.

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