How to fix a running toilet
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How to fix a running toilet

Does your toilet flush normally, but does water periodically leak out of the cistern by itself? Sometimes it stops flowing, but then continues again and constantly flows into the toilet cistern? Either way, a lot of water is wasted and the noise keeps you up at night. Fortunately, if you have an understanding of the structure of the toilet bowl and cistern, then usually repairing a leaking cistern is not a big problem and does not require a significant financial outlay. Take a systematic approach to determining the problem. There are many fixtures in the cistern that can begin to malfunction.

1) Understand the mechanism of the cistern.

The mechanisms may differ in detail, but they all work on the same principle. Remove the cistern lid, press the flush button a couple of times and watch the process inside.

  • When the button is pressed, the chain lifts the flapper and releases all the water present in the cistern into the toilet bowl through the bottom hole. When the water level drops, the flap lowers and closes the hole.
  • A plastic float lowers as the water drains. The float is connected to a valve: it lets water into the tank when the float goes down, and stops the flow (at least it should) when the float is up.
  • There is also an overflow tube in the middle, which ensures that the water drains into the toilet bowl if the level in the cistern rises too high.
1) Understand the mechanism of the cistern.

2) Determine what the problem is.

If you have waited long enough after flushing and the water still does not stop flowing, lift the tank lid and look inside.

3) Close the choke.

f the tank is not full and filling, the choke is probably stuck in the open position.

  • Reach out and close it by hand. If the choke is constantly stuck, try to locate the cause of the malfunction. Make any necessary adjustments.
  • Is the chain constantly catching on something or is the choke catching on the chain? Try putting the choke chain through a plastic cocktail straw so that it doesn’t catch on other elements and prevent the choke from closing properly. You can also completely replace the chain with a loop of dental floss of similar length.
  • Maybe the flap hinge is jammed?
  • Check to see if the flap aligns with the hole?
  • Check to see if you have a ball slide and the wire lifting the ball is not bent and can move unobstructed?

4) Check that the amount of water in the tank is at the proper level.

Insufficient water can also cause the tank to leak.
If the amount of water is LESS than the level, check the water valve, it should be fully open. If it is NOT open, open it manually and the tank will fill to the proper level (unless the fill valve or float is incorrectly adjusted). Perform this action BEFORE replacing the flapper or other parts.

5) Attempt to adjust the valve or float.

  • Manually pull the float upward. If water stops flowing, then adjust the float level so that the tank stops filling when the water level is 2.5 cm below the top of the overflow tube. If the water level in the tank is too high, excessive pressure can cause water to leak through the flapper (even if a new flapper is installed).
  • If the float is near the valve riser, squeeze the metal brace and slide the float lower on the wire.

  • If the float is a balloon structure on the arrow, then try to tighten the small screws on top of the valve. Sometimes you can also bend the arrow a little lower.

  • Check that the float ball is not touching other parts. Adjust it so that it does not cling to the side of the tank, overflow tube or other parts.
  • Depending on the design of the float mechanism and its location relative to the filler tube, the tube may inadvertently pass over the float mechanism and press against it. Do not move the fill tube while the cistern is being filled, or you risk an unexpected shower.
  • A flooded float can cause overflow (even with a properly functioning valve), so check that the float ball is not leaking or filling with water. If water has accumulated in the float, it must be replaced.
  • If the ball valve and device are covered with lime scale, you can try to clean them (take them out of the tank beforehand). It will not take much time, and the result will be worth the effort. If you were able to remove the ball valve, but you can not disassemble it to get to the gaskets, often the cause is lime scale.
  • If carefully lifting the float to the up position does not stop the leak, and you have tried all the above steps, you may need to replace the entire fill valve assembly. Replacing the entire valve is a topic for a separate article, so check carefully for other possible causes and remedies first. – If you believe you need to replace the valve, you can do it yourself and without much expense. Ask for advice at the hardware store and carefully read all the instructions on the packaging of the replacement valve.

6) Clean or replace the flush valve and/or flush valve.

If the cistern stops filling and then the water starts flowing intermittently again or water is constantly leaking into the toilet bowl, you are dealing with a weak leak from the cistern to the toilet bowl. Add a dye tablet or a few drops of food coloring to the cistern. Your hardware store probably has free dye tablets for this case. If, after a couple of hours without flushing, you find traces of dye in the toilet bowl, this will indicate a slight leak – a small amount of water is leaking from the cistern into the toilet.

how to fix leaking toilet
  • The most common cause of this problem is a leaking flapper. Over time, this inexpensive rubber part is subject to destruction, it can become inelastic and require replacement. There may also be mineral deposits on the damper itself and/or on the rim of the flush valve.
  • If the flapper is in good condition, the flapper itself and/or the rim where the flapper comes down should be cleaned of deposits for proper operation.
  • Gently wipe the bottom surface of the flapper and the valve rim with your finger. Remove uneven mineral deposits that may be the cause of the leak. Use a sponge with bleach, a metal sponge, or water-resistant sandpaper.
  • Cleaning helps remove the deposits, but it’s usually best to replace the entire part. There are several standard types of flaps available, so when going to the store, it’s best to bring the old part with you for comparison (to pick the right replacement).

How to replace the flapper:

  • Turn off the water supply faucet and flush the cistern. If the faucet is properly shut off, the tank will not fill. You will also not hear any water noise when the tank is empty.
  • Remove the old flapper from its hinges, disconnect the chain from it, and install the new flapper.
  • When done, remember to open the flapper again.
  • Do a few flushes to determine the correct chain length for the new flap. It should open when you push the flush button and then close completely when the tank is empty. By trial and error, you can determine the proper chain length and adjust it properly. Also check that the flapper aligns with the opening.

7) Solution of other possible problems.

Sometimes there are other reasons for the slow leakage of water from the cistern.

  • The small rubber filling tube going from the valve to the overflow tube and the valve itself can sometimes act as a siphon. In this case, it is necessary to raise the height of the valve or tube, or lower the water level.
  • The valve itself is not capable of stopping the water completely. In collapsible valves, the rubber gaskets can be changed. If the valve is non-disassembled, a complete replacement may be necessary.
  • There may be damage to one or more non-rubber components of the water valve mechanism, such as the lever connected to the plastic ball that shuts off the water by pressing against the bottom when the water level rises. If such damage occurs, the best thing to do is to buy a replacement part. Superglue can be used to solve the problem temporarily.
  • The issue may be too much water pressure at the inlet of the small rubber filler tube going to the overflow tube, causing the damper to not fall into place. In this case, partially close the shutoff valve on the wall.