You flush your toilet, everything runs smoothly and efficiently, but as your about to leave the bathroom you realize that the water is still running. You wait it out a minute or two more… Still running. You open up the back tank, fiddle with the chain and plug and still the water continues to run. Whatever the problem may be, your toilet is wasting a lot of water and keeping you up all night with that annoying noise!
Winter has arrived in Eugene, Oregon and our water and electric bills are on the rise. If you’re anything like us, spending money on wasted water is never alright. The caring handyman professionals of CMW Maintenance Corp. would like to offer our 4th installment of our Handyman How To series, How to: Fix a Running Toilet.
Step 1: Know what you’re working with…
Every great handyman does his or her research before tackling any job around the house. Most toilet mechanisms work on the same principles. CMW Maintenance Corp. recommends taking off the tank lid and flushing the toilet a few times to get a good hold on the process of flushing.
When you depress the handle, it pulls on a chain that lifts the flapper or plug. This lets a tankful of water through the plug and into the bowl. As the water level lowers, so does the plug, which then seals the opening allowing for the water to refill the tank.
You will also notice a float that drops with the draining water and signals the water valve to stop re-filling once it rises back to the top.
Lastly, all toilets have an overflow tube that drains out excess water into the bowl if the water level gets too high.
Step 2: Which system is failing?
After giving the toilet a few flushes and watching the mechanisms, determine which part of the process is at fault. More often than not it is the plug/flapper that isn’t seating correctly. Try pushing the plug down into place and see if it stays seated. If it doesn’t then adjustment must be made…
Is the plug wedged open on its hinge?
Is the plug not aligned properly?
Is your chain too long and catching on something? Perhaps the plug itself?
Your best bet is to adjust the handle’s chain, so it isn’t too long, ensure the plug is lined up properly and if you’re noticing that the chain is catching on other systems, try threading it through a straw. This will keep it straighter and provide protection from snags.
Step 3: How much water is in the tank?
Not having enough water in your tank or too much will cause your toilet to run. If your tank isn’t filling up to the water line mark, check your water valve behind the toilet. Ensure that the valve is turned completely on.
Step 4: Adjust the float and valve
If the last 4 steps still haven’t relieved your toilet of its problem, then adjusting the float and valve is your next step.
There are two main types of floats in toilets: an inflated ball or balloon, or a float that looks like a double stacked hockey puck.
Try pulling up on the float with your hand and see if this stops the flow of water. If this works, then adjust the float level so the water stops filling about an inch from the overflow tube. If your tank’s water level is too high, it can cause your plug to unseal and waste water.
If your toilet uses the ball float, try adjusting the screws for proper placement. If your toilet is filling up too high you can bend the metal arm it’s on..-Lastly ensure that your float, be it balloon or puck, isn’t contacting any other surfaces. Also, that the float has taken on water and become water logged.
Step 5: If all else fails replace the valve:
If after all of these steps your toilet still runs, you may need to replace your whole refill valve assembly. This is a project in itself, so ensure you’ve tested all other causes before going out and purchasing a new valve assembly.
This has been another Handyman How To, brought to you by the professionals of CMW Maintenance Corp. We have been proudly servicing the Eugene, Springfield and greater Lane County area for over a decade and have quietly become Eugene’s #1 handyman service. Not to mention our impeccable track record in all things kitchen and bathroom when it comes to remodels and restorations. CMW Maintenance Corp. your trusted construction team in Eugene.