How to Fix a Running Toilet


If you’re easily rattled or just hate wasting water, knowing how to fix a running toilet is crucial!

It plays like a Western movie at times – the toilet is flushed, your hands are clean … then there’s this moment of silence. You wait — if your toilet had eyes, this would be the point where they’d lock with yours in the O.K. Corral that is your bathroom. Then, there it runs again. The only thing you know to do is shake the handle and storm off until your roommate, spouse or maintenance man makes the problem go away.

Or maybe not… What if you could take control of the situation? What if you could eradicate running toilets in what is supposed to be your sanctuary from the outside world? Take charge of your life (or at least your loudmouth toilet) and make running toilets go the way of wagon trains and stage coaches.

Why Your Toilet Is Running

When you flush your toilet, you’re putting gravity to work. By pushing down the flusher, you are opening the flapper so new water can drop into the bowl. Once the tank is empty, the flapper closes and the tank begins to refill with water. Once the water level reaches the float, the valve sending in new water is closed.

A running toilet means there was a breakdown in the process. The three most common culprits are:

  • The Chain – Connects the flush lever to the flapper.
  • The Flapper – Blocks tank water from running into the bowl.
  • The Float – Raises and lowers along with the water level.

Wait – Don’t Panic

Almost anybody can troubleshoot a running toilet. Get started with these three steps.

  1. Check the chain length by jiggling the flush lever. When the flush lever is at rest, it is too short if it’s still pulling on the flapper. If the chain is too long, the flapper may not be closing properly. Address long chains by moving down the clip, and replace your chain if it’s too short.
  2. Is your flapper dirty, broken or warped? If so, the flapper could be leaking water. Discoloration, mineral buildup, damage – these are all things to look for when inspecting your flapper. If it looks like it’s had a bit of wear and tear, replace it by purchasing a new one at your nearby hardware store.
  3. Your tank should stop filling after a flush once the water has reached right below the overflow tube. If your water is still rising past this level, the float is set too high. The quickest fix is to bend the rod so to lower the floater to the correct height.

If you need help with this, a different bathroom plumbing issue or a plumbing emergency, don’t hesitate to call On Time Elmer Plumbing!

Request Service

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.