A running toilet is a common issue. It occurs when water from the toilet tank leaks constantly into the toilet bowl.
It is annoying, especially because of the disturbing sound it creates and the stains it leaves on the toilet bowl.
Apart from that, it wastes water and can raise the utility bill quite significantly.
Luckily, most people know how to fix a running toilet. All you have to do is replace the ball float.
But what if you can’t find the ball float or it’s broken?
Fixing a running toilet without a ball float is not as difficult as you might think. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to quickly address a running toilet yourself. Read on.
Why is My Toilet Running?
Knowing the cause of a running toilet is the first step to finding the best way to fix it. Here are the main reasons why your toilet may have been kept running:
- A bad toilet flapper valve
- A cracked or misadjusted float cup
- A bad fill valve
A warped, corroded, worn out, or dirty flapper will not perfectly fit the flush valve opening. This will cause water to leak constantly from the tank into the toilet bowl.
However, if the flapper seems fine, a cracked/misadjusted float cup or bad fill valve is likely to be the culprit.
N/B: a cracked/misadjusted float cup or bad fill valve will cause water to run constantly on the toilet floor. This actually depends on your toilet setup as some overflow pipes run outside the house.
As said earlier, fixing a running toilet follows simple DIY procedures. However, you have to look inside your toilet tank to get accustomed to the components that regulate the tank’s water flow.
Though both traditional and modern toilet flushing systems work in a very similar way, they look a bit different on the inside of the toilet tank.
Old traditional toilet tanks and some new ones use float balls while modern ones use float cups.
Float balls are attached to the fill valve assembly using a float arm. But float cups are positioned vertically alongside the fill valve assembly. Nevertheless, both float ball and float cup rise and fall with the water level in the tank.
Whether your toilet tank is using a float ball or float cup, we got you covered. This guide provides solutions for a running toilet with either a float ball or a float cup.
How to Fix a Running Toilet without a Ball Float?
If after opening the tank lid, you discover that the running toilet is without a ball float, that means your toilet is using a float cup. So, here are the steps for you to follow-
Step 1: Cleaning or Replacing the Flapper Valve
Close the shut-off valve or water supply to the toilet tank by turning it clockwise.
Flush the toilet to empty the toilet tank. This will allow you to work inside the tank without soaking yourself in the water.
Open the toilet tank lid and locate the flapper valve. It is located at the bottom of the tank and has a chain that connects to the toilet handle.
Once you locate that, Gently disconnect the chain from the toilet handle.
Gently separate the flapper valve from the overflow tube (an open tube in the middle of the tank) and bring it out.
Check if it is warped, worn-out, dirty, or corroded.
If you find the flapper valve dirty, clean it. If necessary, replace the flapper valve with a new one of the same model. Make sure that the new one fits the seat properly.
Once you are done, connect the chain to the toilet handle, and reattach the flapper valve to the overflow tube.
Now the moment of truth! Open the shut-off valve or water supply to the toilet tank by turning it counterclockwise.
If your toilet is still running, move on to the next step. If not, then congrats! You have fixed the problem.
Carefully check if water is still leaking through the flapper valve.
Step 2: Check the Fill Valve for Leaks
The fill valve allows water into the toilet tank. It is connected to a float cup/cylinder that shuts the valve when the toilet tank is full.
The float cup lowers or rises on the fill valve shaft with the water level in the tank. When the cup is lower, it allows water in until it rises to the stop level.
If the fill valve is defective, the system won’t work normally and may cause the tank to leak water into the toilet bowl continuously.
Diagnose the Fill Valve First
As usual, start the process by closing the water supply, flushing the toilet, and opening the tank cover.
Slide up the float cup and open the water supply to see if water is filling up the tank. If it is, your fill valve is defective and needs to be replaced.
Other than that, check the fill valve for a leak by opening the water supply and closing it as soon as the water level reaches about an inch to the top of the overflow pipe.
If you have a leaking fill valve, you’ll see water leaking into the tank at this point. This problem has only one solution, replacement of the fill valve.
The next steps will guide you into replacing the bad fill valve.
Replacing the Fill Valve
Start the replacement process by turning off the water supply to the tank and emptying it completely.
You may still see some water in the tank. You should remove the water from the tank using a sponge or old cloth if you want a clean replacement without soaking yourself with the water.
Detach the water supply tube from the fill valve under the water tank. Use a wrench to unscrew the retaining nut and pull out the old fill valve.
Check the manufacturer’s instructions that come with the new fill valve to ensure that you are installing it properly. The general process is as follows:
Push the new fill valve into place, screw in the retaining nut, and then reattach the water supply tube.
Reconnect the water supply to the tank and open it. Check for leaks by flushing the toilet.
If you have done everything correctly, your replacement is a success!
In case the fill valve wasn’t an issue, follow the next process-
Step 3: Check for Misadjusted Float Cup
As said above, the float cup shuts the valve when the toilet tank is full. If the float cup is misadjusted, especially raised too high up, it may allow water into the tank beyond the stop level. Fixing a misplaced float cup is pretty easy.
Close the water supply, flush the toilet, and open the tank cover.
Locate the float cup and check whether it is in the right position. If not, lower it to the stop level.
There should be a long plastic screw along with the float cup. Turn this screw counterclockwise with a screwdriver to lower the float cup.
Some float cups use an adjustment clip. Gently squeeze the clip and lower the float cup. Once you are in the right spot, release the adjustment clip.
Open the water supply to allow water into the tank. Ensure that the water level is about an inch below the overflow pipe. If it is, close the lid.
Once you find out the real reason and solve the issue according to the instructions given above, you should be all set to have a perfectly quiet toilet that’s not running on its own anymore.
If you notice that the float cup is broken, you need to replace it with a new one for the things to work properly.
How to Fix a Running Toilet with a Ball Float?
If after you look inside your toilet tank, you find out that yours is a toilet with a float ball, here’s how to fix the running toilet-
Step 1: Close the Water Supply and Flush the Toilet
The first thing to do is to stop the water flow into the tank by closing the water supply.
You also have to drain the tank by flushing the toilet.
Now, you have an empty toilet tank. You can easily inspect the components and find out why the toilet is running.
Gently remove the lid and keep it somewhere safe.
If you notice that there is still water in the tank, press and hold the flush lever until most of the water is drained. After that, remove the remaining water with a sponge or old cloth.
Step 2: Inspect the Components
Most water cisterns are made of ceramic and can easily break or crack.
Inspect the various components like the flapper valve, float ball, float arm, overflow tube, fill valve, and so on.
If any of these parts are damaged, you need to replace them.
Step 3: Check the Flapper
Remove and properly check the flapper valve. You would have to disconnect the flapper from the overflow tube and the lift chain from the handle.
If the flapper is warped, worn-out, or damaged, follow the steps outlined above to replace it.
If the flapper has clogs or mineral/bacteria buildup on it, clean it thoroughly but gently with vinegar to avoid warping.
After cleaning the flapper or getting a new one, put it back in place. Reconnect the flapper to the overflow tube and the lift chain to the handle.
Once done, open the water supply and check if it leaks or not.
Step 4: Check the Float Ball
If the flapper is not the culprit, the float ball is likely to be the problem. The float ball shuts the fill valve when the tank is filled with water and opens the fill valve when the tank is empty.
If the float ball is raised too high, the level of water in the tank will get high above the overflow tube. Excess water will drain into the overflow tube, leading to a running toilet. If this is the problem, follow this to adjust the float ball:
The float ball is connected to a float arm that connects to the fill valve using a plastic screw.
Gently turn this plastic screw counterclockwise with a screwdriver to lower the water level allowed in the tank.
Some float balls simply require that you bend their arms slightly downwards to lower the water level.
After you do that, open the water supply to allow water into the tank. Ensure that the water level is about an inch below the overflow pipe. If everything is fine, then close the lid.
However, if the ball is broken. You need to replace the ball. While it’s rare to see a float ball get damaged inside the tank, it still can happen sometimes.
Step 5: Check the Fill Valve
Finally, you need to check the fill valve of your running toilet to see if it’s cracked or clogged.
The fill valve can fail due to regular wear and tear. Clogs can also prevent the fill valve from closing, making the toilet run continuously.
If the fill valve is cracked or clogged, follow the steps outlined above to clean it or replace it.
A running toilet can be annoying and costly, so it’s best to fix it as soon as possible.
In most cases, the problem lies with the flapper or the float ball. However, it could also be an issue with the fill valve.
Use compatible and genuine parts in case any replacement is needed. They will serve you better than the cheap products.
These are simple fixes and shouldn’t take you so much time. If you are still unsure, you can watch this video-
If you still can’t figure out what the problem is after applying the above solutions, it’s best to call a professional plumber for help.