Fixing a running toilet

My downstairs bathroom has had a running toilet since I moved in.  I guess I just didn’t stop and think about all the water that toilet was actually wasting.   Especially since it was such a quick, inexpensive, and easy fix to do.

Here’s what you need:

  • Screwdriver
  • New toilet flapper

Here’s what to do:

1. To check and see if your flapper is old, warped, or just not sealing correctly, put a few drops of food coloring into the tank.  Wait 30 minutes.  If you see food coloring dripping down the sides of the toilet bowl, you’ve found your culprit.  This is the most common fix.  If you don’t see coloring appearing, don’t despair, I didn’t either.

2. Turn the water off to the toilet.

3. Flush (and hold down the handle) to get as much of the water out of the tank as possible.

4. Unhook the flapper from the arm (I replaced my flapper while I was at it– just in case) and unsnap (or disconnect) below as well.  Throw the old flapper away.

5. Attach the new flapper and rehook the metal to the arm.  You might need to adjust the length of the chain– once you turn the water back on you can try different lengths while flushing to see what works the best.

6. Turn the water back on.

7. If your problem isn’t fixed by replacing the flapper, you probably need to adjust the float.  On my toilet, it’s a screw at the top of the float, but in some toilets you’re going to need the tank empty to adjust the float near the bottom.  Look for the part that rises with the water level and causes the water to turn off.  Then, just use your screwdriver to adjust in the opposite direction.  The water should be about an inch lower than the overflow tube top.

Try these two fixes and if you’re still having issues, you’re probably going to need to replace all the toilet tank parts– Home Depot and Lowes sell kits for this.  But chances are, replacing the flapper or adjusting the float should fix your problem.


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