Have you ever been kept awake at night by the constant sound of water running in your toilet? When your toilet tank keeps running, it’s a nuisance. It creates noise and can also significantly increase your water bill.

Fortunately, fixing a constantly running toilet is often a straightforward task that doesn’t necessitate a call to a plumber. This guide will walk you through the steps needed to fix a running toilet, helping you determine whether it’s your fill valve, toilet overflow tube, or something more, and when to call a professional, ensuring a peaceful return to your home.

Understanding the Functioning of Your Toilet

Before we delve into the nitty-gritty of fixing a running or leaking toilet, it’s crucial to understand how your system works. While it may seem complicated, it’s surprisingly simple once you get the hang of it.

The Fill Valve Assembly

The fill valve assembly is a crucial component of your toilet. Water flows through the water supply line and up into the toilet tank via the fill tube. The water supply remains in the toilet tank thanks to the rubber flapper and a large gasket at the bottom of the tank. As the tank refills, the float rod or float cup rises. The fill valve stops the water flow once the float reaches a specific level. If it is faulty, you may need a new fill valve otherwise, the water may continue to rise until it spills into the overflow tube, designed to prevent accidental flooding.

The Flush Valve Assembly

The flush valve assembly is another vital element of your toilet. When you flush the toilet using the lever or flush button, it pulls on a flapper chain, allowing water to flow out of the tank and into the toilet bowl. Some also have a secondary entry point known as a siphon jet to increase flushing power that is secured in place with a flush valve nut.

Why Your Toilet Keeps Running

A toilet keeps running typically due to issues with the overflow tube, flush valve, or fill valve. Here are the most common reasons why:

  1. Toilet Overflow Tube Issues: If the water is running into the overflow tube and causing a weak flush, the water level might be too high, the fill tube isn’t functional effectively or the overflow tube might be too short. Adjusting the water level can resolve this issue, but if the overflow tube is too short, the entire flush valve assembly, including the fill tube, may need to be replaced.
  2. Fill Valve Problems: If the water continues to run despite the overflow tube being the right height and the water level is set one inch below the top of the overflow tube, it’s likely due to the fill valve tube.
  3. Flush Valve Assembly Troubles: If the water isn’t running into the overflow tube, it’s usually the flush valve assembly causing the problem. The toilet flapper chain could be too short, preventing the old flapper from fully closing, or it might be warped or coated in grime, causing excess water to leak into the tank.

How to Fix a Running Toilet: A Step-by-Step Guide

If you have a constantly running toilet, don’t panic! With a few basic tools and some patience, you can often fix the problem yourself. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to fix a running toilet.

Step 1: Check the Overflow Tube Height

Begin by checking the height of the overflow pipe. If the toilet overflow tube is too short, causing continuous water flow, you’ll need to replace the flush valve assembly with a compatible one.

Step 2: Lower the Water Level in the Tank

If the overflow tube’s height is fine, check the toilet tank water level. It should ideally be set about an inch below the top of the overflow tube. Adjust the water level by tweaking the float rod, float cup, or float ball. If the water continues to run into the overflow tube, regardless of the float valve level, the issue is likely the fill valve.

Step 3: Inspect the Flush Valve Chain

The flush valve chain lifts the toilet flapper in response to the toilet lever or flush button being used. If the chain is too short or too long, it can cause water to flow constantly. Adjust the chain until it’s the right length, allowing the flapper to close without obstruction fully.

Step 4: Check the Toilet Flapper

Inspect the flapper for signs of significant wear, warping, or grime. If it’s damaged, replace it with a new flapper. If it’s just dirty, clean the rubber flapper with warm water and vinegar.

Step 5: Replace the Flush Valve

If you’ve inspected the overflow tube, adjusted the water level, checked the flapper chain, and replaced the flapper, but your toilet keeps running, the flush valve assembly is likely the culprit. You’ll need to purchase a compatible flush valve assembly and replace the old one.

Step 6: Replace the Fill Valve

If your toilet water supply keeps running despite the overflow tube being the right height and the water level is set about an inch below the top of the overflow tube, the issue is likely the fill valve. Replacing the fill valve isn’t as difficult as dealing with a faulty flush valve.

When to Contact a Professional

While fixing a running toilet is often a simple DIY task, there are times when you might need to call in a professional. If you’ve tried the steps above and your toilet bowl keeps running or are nervous about attempting a plumbing repair, it may be time to call a professional plumber.

Stop the Drip: How Fixing a Running Toilet & Save Money & Water

A running toilet is more than just an annoyance. It’s a costly problem that can result in significant water waste, higher bills and substantial issues with your toilet bowl. 

However, by understanding how your toilet works and how to troubleshoot common issues, you can often fix a running toilet yourself. Remember, if in doubt, don’t hesitate to contact a professional, local plumber.

Remember, in Australia, your water supply is a precious resource, as is your plumbing system. Fixing a running toilet and water supply line promptly is not only good for your wallet, but it’s also good for the environment. So don’t put off fixing that running toilet – your peace of mind and your pocket will thank you!