Stop Jiggling the Handle. Here’s What to Check If Your Toilet Won’t Stop Running

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When your toilet keeps running or if the toilet runs on and off every few minutes it isn’t just annoying, it’s a money waster. Every time the toilet runs on and off water is literally going down the drain, and with it, some money. So, it makes sense that you’ll want to figure out how to stop the toilet from running all the time.

There are a few running toilet causes. It could be to fix a leaky toilet flapper with a toilet flapper repair kit, adjust the toilet lift chain if you have one, or the toilet flapper valve may need to be replaced. It always helps to know how something works before you fix it. So, let’s talk about how a toilet flushes and fills.

Top reasons a toilet keeps running or cycles on and off

  • Toilet flapper leaking
  • Bad toilet flapper
  • Toilet flapper chain adjusted incorrectly
  • Toilet valve float adjusted incorrectly
  • Toilet fill valve assembly is bad

What keeps a toilet running?

When a toilet is running the way it’s supposed to, water from the tank rushes through the toilet flapper opening at the base of the tank This rushing water is fed to the toilet bowl through a jet in the lower front of the bowl, water also flows through a ring of openings around the bottom of the toilet rim.

What starts all this in motion is the lever or button on the outside of the tank. Now, we’re talking about standard gravity fed toilets here, not the type with a pressure tank. Pressure toilets work a bit different than gravity fed.

On a gravity fed toilet, when you operate the toilet lever or push the flush button the toilet flapper is lifted of its seal at the bottom of the tank. There is another lever inside the tank attached to the flapper by a toilet lift chain. After the toilet chain lifts the toilet flapper off the seal, water flows to the bowl. When the water level in the tank goes down, the toilet flapper seats back on the opening and seals the water flow to the bowl. 

You’ll also find a float in the toilet tank bowl that goes down with the water level.

What does the toilet flapper and toilet flapper float do?

The toilet flapper float opens or closes the toilet tank fill valve assembly. It opens or closes a valve depending on the water level in the tank. When the toilet flushes the toilet float lowers causing the valve to open. When the valve opens water flows back into the tank. This is the “toilet running” sound you hear after you flush.

Sometimes the toilet flapper at the bottom doesn’t seal well. It could be old, or the chain is not adjusted to let it seal. If the seal isn’t good enough to keep the water from going into the bowl the tank’s water level goes down. If you’re thinking ahead you might see where this is going.

Here’s the story: If the toilet flapper is leaking because is worn and it doesn’t seat well on the opening, or the toilet flapper valve assembly is leaky, or the toilet’s fill valve float is not adjusted well, your toilet will keep running or cycle. You may just need some simple adjustments.

Simple adjustments to fix a toilet that keeps running

Before you decide to go to the hardware store to buy replacement parts, there are a few simple adjustments you can try to stop the toilet from running constantly. First, you can adjust the float on the toilet’s fill valve assembly. And second, you can make sure the chain attaching the toilet flapper to the flush lever is at the right length.

You adjust the toilet fill valve assembly float based on the type of toilet float assembly you have. For toilet floats with a bulb or ball floating on the water, simply turn the ball. There are threads on the connecting bar and the float moves closer to, or farther from the toilet fill valve. Move the ball so it’s farther from the valve and this will close the toilet fill valve tighter.

If you have the type of toilet fill assembly valve float that rides up and down like an elevator, you’ll notice a place to put a screwdriver. Simply rotate this with a screwdriver so the float goes lower in the water.  This makes the toilet’s fill valve close tighter.

Adjusting the toilet fill valve assembly float will close the fill valve tighter and this may stop the toilet running constantly.

Toilet still running after adjusting fill valve assembly float

If after these simple adjustments your toilet is still running constantly you have two options. First, you can give Fountain plumbing in Tyler Texas a call and we’ll be happy to come out and fix your constantly running toilet. We’ve been helping people with plumbing problems here in Next, you can do the repairs yourself.

If you decide to do it yourself, you will need to work on the toilet fill valve assembly or the flush flapper. We have more detailed instructions on repairing your toilet that runs constantly in another article.