A toilet that keeps running at random times may seem like a mere annoyance. However, the fact is that this issue can potentially waste hundreds or even several thousand gallons of water per day. This leads to your Boise, ID, water bill skyrocketing. Luckily, there are only a few issues that can cause a toilet to run when not in use. This article will explain what these issues are and how they can be fixed.

Toilet Flapper Is Not Sealing Properly

When you flush a toilet, a metal lever or arm raises the rubber flapper to allow water to rush out of the tank into the bowl. A toilet flapper that doesn’t properly seal the tank is the most common culprit that causes a toilet to frequently run and refill.

If the flapper isn’t fully sealed, water will continuously trickle into the bowl so that the tank slowly drains. When the tank drains to a certain point, the float will trigger the fill valve to open, and the toilet will start running until the tank is again full.

The flapper is usually the first part of a toilet to wear out and may only last for five years or so. Since the flapper constantly sits in water, the rubber slowly starts to degrade and become more brittle over time. This can eventually lead to the flapper deteriorating to the point where it can no longer create a proper seal inside the tank. When this happens, the only solution is to remove the flapper and install a new one.

Toilet flappers are also prone to getting coated in mineral deposits over time, especially in homes with hard water. This slowly increases its size to the point where it eventually can’t create a proper seal around the hole, and water begins seeping into the tank. In this situation, simply lifting the flapper up and cleaning it will usually solve the issue and stop your toilet from running. However, you’ll need to shut the water in the toilet off first, or else it will constantly run as soon as you lift the flapper.

The flapper will also fail to create a proper seal if the chain isn’t long enough. This prevents it from dropping all the way down into place. However, the only time this will usually happen is if someone adjusts the chain or if the metal lever somehow gets bent.

Fill Valve Is Broken or Stuck Open

Another potential reason why a toilet will start running when not in use is that the fill valve is broken or stuck in the open position. This issue is quite easy to diagnose, as it will make the toilet run and the water flow constantly. If you have a newer toilet with a broken fill valve, the entire assembly, including the float, will have to be replaced. This is definitely a situation where it is best to hire a plumber since replacing the fill valve is more difficult than other toilet repairs.

The fill valve can get stuck or wear out simply due to age. If your home has overly high water pressure, it can also prevent the valve from closing and lead to the toilet constantly running. In this case, you’ll need to first overcome the high water pressure issues in order to keep your toilet running. If your home has a water-pressure reducing valve, you’ll want to have a plumber look at it. This valve can sometimes wear out and stop working properly, or it could just be that the valve needs to be readjusted. If your home doesn’t have a valve, the solution is to have a plumber install one where the main water line comes inside.

Float Is Misaligned

A misaligned toilet float is a less common issue that may happen if the fill valve wasn’t installed correctly or someone improperly adjusted the float. This is an easy problem to check for. It’s worth looking at first when troubleshooting your running toilet issue.

A toilet float serves two purposes. The first is to trigger the fill valve to open after you flush the toilet and the tank drains. Once the tank refills, the float eventually triggers the valve to close, so it stops refilling. The float can freely move up and down in the tank as the water level drops and rises. When it drops down, it opens the valve. It then closes the valve when it rises back up to its original, set position.

On the back or side of a toilet tank is a mark that shows the correct fill level, and possibly also a mark on the overflow tube. When the tank refills, the float should trigger the fill valve to close as soon as the water level reaches this mark. If the float is set too high, the tank will continue filling above this mark. If the water keeps running and the level gets too high, water will spill out into the bowl through the overflow tube. When the tank gets too full, it also prevents the float from triggering the fill valve to close. This leads to the water running continuously.

On the side of the float is a rod that is connected to a clip. This is what is used to adjust or align the float. If the float is set too high, you can just press in on the clip and slide the float down. However, it can be difficult to get the water to the right level if you don’t know what you’re doing. You’ll usually need to keep flushing the toilet and then readjusting the float. As such, this is another job where you may want to enlist professional help. If not, you could end up setting the float too low, which will make the flush much weaker than it should be.

Overflow Tube Is Cracked

The overflow tube can sometimes crack. Since the majority of the tube sits underwater, the crack will allow some water to constantly leak out into the bowl. A small crack will usually only lead to the toilet running occasionally, but a larger crack can make it run nearly constantly. On newer toilets, you will usually have to replace both the flapper and the overflow tube if they are cracked. They are typically one connected piece. Replacing this component usually isn’t difficult, but it can sometimes be tough to find the right part. If you don’t use the right part and the overflow tube is too short, your toilet will still end up running frequently.

Whenever you are in need of plumbing services, it’s imperative to enlist the help of a licensed plumber to ensure the job is done correctly. If you need toilet repairs or any other plumbing repairs in the Boise area, Access Heating & Air Conditioning is a company you can trust. We have been serving our community for more than 50 years. We are the area’s top choice for plumbing, heating, and air conditioning repairs, maintenance, and installation. Whether you’re dealing with a toilet that won’t stop running or a heating or AC system that doesn’t work effectively, contact us today.


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