08 September Repair tools on top of a toilet with a closed lid

How to Fix a Running Toilet

Posted by PlumbWize

One of the most worrisome and inconvenient problems that a homeowner can encounter is a leaking toilet. 

The signs of a leaky toilet usually only become pronounced and noticeable when the leak has gotten bad — this means that the moment you notice a leakage, repairs need to be done ASAP. Leaks can cause the toilet to keep running, blowing up your water bill and wasting up to 26 gallons per day.

In this article, we will cover the main reasons why toilets leak, how to fix a running toilet, whether or not DIY repairs are safe, and more. Let’s get started!

Signs That Your Toilet Has a Leak

Toilet leaks can manifest in different ways depending on the cause and the extent of the damage. Sometimes, the signs are more glaringly visible than others. Here are some examples:

  • The toilet is noisier than usual.
    Running toilets constantly make noise after each flush because of a leak in the toilet tank or a problem with the fill valve.
  • There’s a puddle, staining, or dampness around the bottom of the toilet.
    The presence of water around the toilet base suggests various problems, such as a leaking supply line or a cracked toilet tank.
  • The toilet tank is leaking.
    Look for drips or moisture on the toilet tank. If you’re not sure where the leak is coming from or if there actually is a leak, one way to find out is to put drops of food colouring into the tank and see if the colour shows outside.

How to Fix a Running Toilet Due to a Leaking Supply Line

The supply line is the pipe or hose that brings water into the toilet’s tank for the flush to work. This line is connected to the supply valve and to the toilet’s tank. Usually, a problem arises when the joints in the supply line become loose or weak. The rubber lining of the supply line can also be ruptured. These issues are brought about by physical force or simply wear and tear. 

If you find yourself in a situation like this, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Turn off the toilet’s water supply.
  2. Remove water from the tank by flushing until it’s empty.
  3. Disconnect the faulty supply line from the valve and the toilet.
  4. Connect the new supply line to both valves.
  5. Turn the water back on and check if the new supply no longer has leaks.

While most homeowners are confident to do this plumbing repair by themselves, some issues may arise if the problem is misdiagnosed or if the repair isn’t done correctly.

Dampness around the base of the toilet due to leaking

How to Fix a Running Toilet Due to a Damaged Tank

The most common reason why toilet tank problems occur is physical impact. Even really small cracks that are not easily seen can cause leakages, leading to the toilet running incessantly. Luckily, small enough cracks usually mean that you won’t need to have your toilet replaced. However, locating the more minor cracks can be a challenge.

If you have determined that this is the only problem with your toilet and have actually located the cracks, this can be safe enough to DIY. Here’s how to seal the cracks:

  1. Turn off the water supply.
  2. Empty the toilet tank and dry it inside and out.
  3. Seal cracks with a porcelain sealer or epoxy. Apply the sealant an inch before and an inch after the crack.
  4. Smooth out the sealant with a plastic knife and let it sit for 24 hours.
  5. Once this is all done, the water can be turned back on. Check to see if the leak is still present.

How to Fix a Faulty Toilet Float

The toilet float is the ball that you can see floating on top of the toilet tank’s water supply. Its purpose is to trigger the refill of the toilet tank when the supply is too low. Wear and tear or damage due to physical force are usually the most common reasons for this. 

Follow these toilet repair steps to solve this issue: 

  1. Turn off the water supply.
  2. Empty water from the tank.
  3. Unscrew the arm of the old toilet float and remove it from the tank using pliers. 
  4. Install the new toilet float and securely connect it to the fill valve.
  5. Turn the water back on and check if everything is working fine.

Although some homeowners can carry out this replacement by themselves, we always recommend getting an expert plumber on board to ensure that the root of the problem is diagnosed correctly and effectively addressed.

How to Fix a Running Toilet Due to Fill Valve Problems

The fill valve is the apparatus that allows the toilet tank to be refilled after flushing. This part of the toilet goes through wear and tear over time. The damage will mean that the fill valve won’t be able to shut off. When this valve fails, the toilet keeps running, and this can reflect on your water bill. 

The best solution is to replace the fill valve. Here’s how:

  1. Turn off the water supply.
  2. Empty water from the tank.
  3. Disconnect the supply line from the tank.
  4. Remove the fill valve and replace it with a new one. Be sure to make necessary adjustments according to the height of the newly installed fill valve. 
  5. Reconnect the water supply line to the tank, turn the water on, and check if the leak has been resolved.
Close up of the main shutoff valve - the circular type

Although many people consider this process DIY-friendly, keep in mind that faulty repairs can have immediate or gradual repercussions. Save time and effort by calling in a professional plumber to do the job.

Is DIY Toilet Plumbing Safe?

While DIY plumbing can be tempting because it looks like the most cost-effective solution, it usually isn’t. 

Mistakes can happen, and you may end up calling up an expert plumber anyway to fix the same issue the second time around. Even worse, the case may be aggravated and would mean a more expensive repair. Additionally, DIY plumbing may not be the safest solution as accidents can put your life and property at risk.

By having a plumbing expert on board, you can save yourself a lot of time and effort — and rest assured that your repaired toilet will serve you for a long time without hiccups.

The Leak Is Really Bad What Can I Do Right Now?

If there are telltale signs of flooding in your bathroom, it means DIY ideas to fix a running toilet are no longer an option. Do not waste time and do the following:

  1. Cut the water supply to your toilet. 

The football-shaped shutoff valve of your toilet can be found connected to a pipe or hose attached to the bottom of the tank with the other end connecting to the wall. Turn the valve clockwise until you can no longer move it. Flush your toilet and make sure it doesn’t refill with water after.

  1. Turn off the main shutoff valve.

In some cases, it’s better to turn off the main shutoff valve as well, just to be sure. This is usually located near the water meter in the basement. The main shutoff valve would be one or two circular, wheel-like or lever handles near the water meter. Turn the valve clockwise. If there are two valves, turn the one that is closest to your home.

  1. Call emergency plumbing services ASAP.

Immediately reach out to a professional plumber with an expertise in fixing running toilets. Leaks can progress in no time and lead to catastrophic water damage that can ruin your furniture and property. 

Top view of a toilet tank

24/7 Emergency Plumbing Services by PlumbWize

Here at PlumbWize, we have seasoned plumbing professionals on standby day and night, seven days a week, 365 days a year. 

Whether you need someone to fix a running toilet or a clogged drain, our expert plumbers can get it done right the first time. We service both residential and commercial clients in these areas:

Whatever your plumbing needs are, we’ve got you covered. Contact us today!


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