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How To Fix a Leaking Toilet

Comfort Zone - Plumbing, Heating, Air Conditioning Blog

McMahon Plumbing + Heating Blog

Leaking toilets may be costing you more money than you think. Fortunately, fixing them is easy. Here's how!

Finding The Cause Of The Leak

The first thing to fix any problem is to find what is causing it.  In order to do that we learn how a toilet basically works.

When you push down the toilet handle, all you’re doing is moving a rod upward that lifts something called a flapper that is preventing the tank water from draining into the toilet. The flapper stays up in the tank water because there is a pocket of air in the flapper. As the tank water level drops, so will the floating flapper. It will fall right back into place, sealing the hole that lets out the tank water into the toilet bowl.

What controls water from filling up the tank is a floater that is attached to a rod. As the floater moves up and down with the water level of the tank, it will either open or close a valve. This is how water is let in to refill the toilet tank, and shuts off automatically as the floater rises with the water level. At the same time, water is also directed into the toilet bowl via a tube running in an overflow tube. Again, once the tank reaches a certain level, all water flow should stop.

If the water level is above the overflow tube, water will be constantly draining into the bowl and the floater will never get high enough to shut off the valve. There should be a screw above where the water flows into the tank. Turn it either way to see how it adjust the floater. Alternatively, you could bend the rod to lower the floater. Thus, the floater will reach a point where it shuts of the inflow of water completely. Obviously, the water level needs to be lower than the overflow tube. Check to make sure this is true as it could be as simple as making this adjustment to stop a running toilet.

Another cause of a running toilet could be that water is leaking into the bowl through the flapper part at the bottom of the tank. To test to see if this is the problem, put some food coloring into the tank. Check the bowl in about 5 minutes to see If there is coloring in the bowl. If so, your flapper is not sealing the drain hole completely. In this case, all you have to do is buy a new flapper.

If you have a tank ball sealing the drain hole, make sure the vertical rod is positioned perfectly so that the tank ball will sit in the drain hole perpendicularly.

Another cause could be a short or kinked chain (if you have a flapper type flushing system). Make sure there is enough slack in the chain so that the flapper will completely seat (in the drain hole).

If none of those are the cause of your running toilet, then the filler valve (the part where water comes out to fill your tank) could be the culprit. If your assembly allows you to get to the valve, there should be either rubber washers or O-rings that seal water flow. Check them out to see if there’s ANY wear. Replace if necessary.

If, on the other hand, it seems like it’s one solid piece, you’ll have to change the whole assembly. In this case, you must shut off the toilet water supply at the shut off valve, flush the toilet, and remove the whole assembly by unscrewing the water inlet pipe, and then the whole filler assembly. You will need a wrench, a bucket, and some rags to complete this job. There are videos on the internet showing you how to perform this extraction and installation.

When To Call A Plumber

Are you afraid you might do more harm than good? Don’t like getting down on your hands and knees and getting a little wet? Or, maybe you have better things to do with your time? These are all valid reasons to let a professional plumber do the work for you. A skilled plumber should be able to diagnose and fix the leak for you without too many problems.

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