Everyone occasionally has bathroom troubles. Don’t worry; this article isn’t about anything disgusting. It’s about troubleshooting a toilet that won’t stop running or better known as a run-on toilet. This is when the water continuously runs in the toilet after flushing.
Not only is it annoying, but it wastes water as well. When this occurs, it needs to be fixed very soon. Below you will find some troubleshooting tips and ideas that will help you decide what is wrong and what you need to do to fix it.
Determine if You Have a Run-on Toilet
First, you need to determine if you actually have a run-on toilet. Flush your toilet and listen for sounds. Listen for a noise like a hissing snake in the water tank. If you heard the hissing, don’t panic, but do you also notice that water continues to run into the toilet bowl a long time after? If so, you have a run-on toilet.
What Is the Cause?
You will first need to check inside the toilet water tank. Do not worry – that’s not where the nasty stuff goes. The water tank only contains clean water and is pretty much germ free. Remove the toilet water tank lid and flush the toilet. Closely observe what happens as it flushes, and as it refills.
The Flapper Valve or Tank ball
Most of the time a run-on toilet is caused by an issue with the flapper valve or tank ball. They get damaged over time and don’t cover the drain as well as they should and that lets water continuously run. Normally the flapper valve or tank ball covers the drain so the water tank can refill. Once it reaches a certain level the water knows to turn off. However, if the flapper valve or tank ball isn’t working, the water will never reach the filling level and will never turn off.
On a side note, when a flapper valve or tank ball is getting old sometimes it might work and sometimes it might not, so you might want to flush the toilet several times in order to give it a good evaluation.
Maybe the problem is the flush lever, or flush handle as some might call it. Let’s check. Flush the toilet with the lever and if the water continues to run, wiggle the lever. Did that fix the problem? If so, you might want to adjust the linkage on the chain that goes to the flapper valve. Sometimes the chain will get under the flapper valve and cause the valve to not close properly. If that’s the problem, just take a few links out of the chain or fold the chain to reach the right length. Tie it with a wire so it will stay the right length.
Is the problem the float ball? The float ball sometimes gets damaged, or sometimes simply needs to be adjusted. Flush the toilet and after the water tank fills; you should see the water going down the overflow tube. You might even see bubble coming up from the float ball, which would mean it has a hole and it is taking on water. This will have to be replaced.
The float ball was made to float on the water while the tank fills with water, and when the water reaches a certain level; the float ball moves the float arm, which shuts the water off in the ballcock. If the float arm doesn’t tell the ballcock to shut off the water, the water will continuously run.
If the float ball is not damaged sometimes it can be adjusted instead of replacing it. Bend the float ball arm downward just a little and see if that works. You might need to try this several times until you get it just right. Do not bend the arm with too much force because it will break!
Sometimes the ballcock won’t close properly. If you have already adjusted the float ball arm, and the flapper valve or tank ball is in good condition, and the flush lever is working properly, it could be the ballcock. Remember, the ballcock is the thing that actually shuts the water off. It’s important to replace the ballcock when it is damaged. Unfortunately, it cannot be adjusted or tweaked.
One last tip: If you do need to replace anything in the toilet, just to be on the safe side, it’s a good idea to shut off the main water valve that goes to the water tank on the toilet!
Also, take a moment and read our article about “How to fix leaky toilets“. Enjoy!