Why Does My Toilet Keep Running?

toilet-with-button-flushThe title feels like the start of a bad prank phone call (back in days before the existence of caller ID), but it’s a plumbing issue homeowners run into frequently. A toilet is flushed, but instead of running for a minute afterward to fill up the tank through the feed line, it continues to run without stopping. This can be a minor problem or a serious one. You might be able to fix it yourself in a minute or so, or you may need to have a professional plumber see what the trouble is and repair it.

We’ll take a look at why a toilet might be running continuously and how a plumber in Andover, MA can put a stop to this major waste of water. Before checking for a problem or calling a plumber, shut off the valve on the feed line so the running water will stop.

The chain to the flapper is caught or tangled

This is one of the basic and common causes of a running toilet, and it’s easy to fix. The chain that lifts the flapper when the toilet is flushed might become caught on another component or become tangled so it won’t allow the flapper to close all the way again. This will allow water from the tank to continue to run into the bowl without ever filling up the tank. Lift up the lid of the tank (be careful—it’s expensive to replace a broken porcelain lid!) and get the chain free again.

The flapper is decaying

If you have an old toilet, the rubber of the flapper may have deteriorated to the point where it can’t create an effective seal. You’ll need to have the flapper replaced. If the toilet is extremely old, we recommend asking your plumber about having it replaced with a new model that offers improved water savings.

Leaky fill valve

The fill valve controls the flow of water into the tank and shuts it off when the float registers the water level is high enough. If this valve leaks, water will continue to enter the tank even after the tank is full. The overflow pipe will prevent the water from flooding out of the tank, but you’ll still have a toilet that’s wasting water.

Leaky gaskets

The gaskets seal the tank and the bowl together. Like the flapper, these parts can also decay over time, permitting water to seep from the bowl into the tank. Professional plumbers need to separate the tank from the bowl and replace the worn-down gaskets.

Broken float

Older toilets may still use a float to register the water level and shut off the fill valve. If the float is punctured and waterlogged, it won’t rise and activate the fill valve. As with the decayed flapper, this is often a warning that it’s time to get a new toilet installed.

We don’t recommend tampering with the various components in the toilet tank aside from unhitching the chain. If you aren’t sure what’s wrong with the toilet, please feel free to call our plumbers to arrange for them to look at what’s going on.

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