The toilet, a seemingly humble fixture in our homes, serves a vital role in our daily lives. It’s a cornerstone of sanitation, a place of refuge and reflection, and, perhaps, one of the most underrated engineering marvels. However, when that trusty toilet becomes a source of frustration due to a constant, unrelenting flow of water into the bowl, a once-silent hero can become an uninvited villain. A running toilet, though often dismissed as a minor annoyance, has the potential to wreak havoc on your water bills and the environment. In this guide, we delve into the world of the running toilet, exploring the various issues that cause it, and equipping you with the knowledge and skills needed to put an end to the wasteful flow. Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast or just someone looking to save water and money, this guide will help you understand, troubleshoot, and resolve the persistent problem of a running toilet.

how to fix a running toilet

How much water can a running toilet waste?

A running toilet can waste a surprising amount of water if left unaddressed. The amount of water wasted depends on the severity of the issue and how quickly it is resolved. Here’s a rough estimate of water wastage for different scenarios:

  1. Constant Running: If a toilet is continuously running without interruption, it can waste as much as 900 litres (around 200 gallons) or more of water per day. This is a significant amount and can result in a substantial increase in your water bill.
  2. Intermittent Running: In cases where the toilet runs intermittently, perhaps for a few minutes every hour, the water wastage is lower but still significant. Depending on the frequency and duration of the running, it can waste several litres of water each day.
  3. Slow, Silent Leaks: Some toilet leaks are slow and silent, making them difficult to detect. Over time, these can waste hundreds of litres of water. An average slow leak, losing around 30 drops per minute, can waste approximately 643 litres (around 170 gallons) in a month.

It’s important to note that the exact amount of water wasted can vary based on factors like water pressure, the size of the flush tank, and the severity of the leak. The key takeaway is that even a small leak or a running toilet can lead to significant water wastage over time, and addressing the issue promptly is essential to conserve water and save on utility bills.


How to fix a running toilet

A running toilet can be not only annoying but also a significant source of water wastage. The continuous flow of water into the toilet bowl is a common problem, often caused by various issues within the toilet tank. In this guide, we will walk you through the steps to diagnose and fix a running toilet. With a little knowledge and some basic tools, you can save both water and money by tackling this problem yourself.

Tools and Materials

Before you begin, make sure you have the following tools and materials at hand:

  1. Adjustable spanner
  2. Screwdriver (flathead and Phillips)
  3. Replacement parts (if necessary, depending on the issue)
    • Flapper or flush valve seal
    • Fill valve
    • Flapper chain or lift wire
    • Float
    • Ballcock or fill valve assembly
    • Toilet tank bolts and washers
  4. Towel or sponge
  5. Rubber gloves (optional)

Where to start

Step 1: Turn Off the Water Supply

Locate the shut-off valve, usually situated on the wall or floor behind the toilet. Turn the valve clockwise to stop the flow of water to the toilet. Flush the toilet to empty the tank and verify that no more water is entering.

Step 2: Remove the Toilet Tank Lid

Carefully remove the tank lid and set it aside. Be cautious when handling the lid, as it can be heavy and fragile.

Step 3: Inspect the Flapper or Flush Valve Seal

The most common cause of a running toilet is a faulty flapper or flush valve seal. Inspect these components for wear and tear. If you notice any damage, it’s a good idea to replace them.

  1. To replace the flapper: – Disconnect the flapper chain or lift wire from the flush lever. – Remove the old flapper from its attachment points. – Install the new flapper by connecting it to the flush lever and the mounting points.
  2. To replace the flush valve seal: – Turn off the water supply to the toilet. – Unscrew and remove the fill valve from the tank (Step 4). – Remove the old flush valve seal and install the new one according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Step 4: Check the Fill Valve

If replacing the flapper or flush valve seal doesn’t solve the problem, it’s possible that the fill valve is faulty. Inspect the fill valve for any signs of damage or leakage. If it’s damaged, you may need to replace it. Here’s how to do it:

  • Remove the water supply line from the fill valve.
  • Detach the fill valve from the bottom of the tank.
  • Install the new fill valve according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Reattach the water supply line to the new fill valve.

Step 5: Adjust the Water Level

To ensure the proper water level in the tank, adjust the float. The float can be a ballcock or a float cup, depending on your toilet. Here’s how to adjust it:

  • For a ballcock:
    • Bend the float arm downward to lower the water level or upward to raise it. The correct water level is usually marked on the overflow tube.
  • For a float cup:
    • Squeeze the clip on the float cup’s rod to release it.
    • Slide the float cup up or down on the rod to adjust the water level. Align it with the water level mark on the fill valve.

Step 6: Inspect and Replace Other Components

If your toilet is still running after performing the above steps, it might be necessary to inspect and replace other components like the tank bolts and washers or the overflow tube. Leaks around these areas can also lead to a running toilet.

Step 7: Turn the Water Supply Back On

Once you’ve completed all the necessary repairs or adjustments, turn the water supply back on by opening the shut-off valve.

Step 8: When All Else Fails: Contact a Plumber

While this comprehensive guide covers the most common issues that cause a running toilet and how to address them, there can be situations where the problem is more complex or elusive. If you’ve followed all the previous steps and your toilet is still running, it might be time to consider seeking the expertise of a professional plumber.

Here are a few scenarios where contacting a plumber is a prudent choice:

  1. Hidden Leaks: Sometimes, a running toilet might be the result of leaks in the water supply lines or in the toilet’s trap. These leaks may not be easily visible or accessible without dismantling the toilet or the wall. A plumber has the tools and experience to locate and repair such hidden leaks.
  2. Complex Repairs: If you’re not comfortable working with the internal components of your toilet or if you lack the necessary tools and replacement parts, it’s best to leave the job to a professional. Plumbers are trained to handle a wide range of plumbing issues, including those that involve intricate repairs.
  3. Old or Custom Toilets: Older or custom-built toilets can have unique components or configurations that require specialized knowledge and replacement parts. In such cases, a plumber can ensure that the right solutions are applied.
  4. Persistent Problems: If your toilet continues to run despite multiple attempts at fixing it, this may be an indication of a more serious issue within your plumbing system. A plumber can assess your entire plumbing system to determine if the problem extends beyond the toilet itself.
  5. Time and Convenience: For those with busy schedules or limited DIY experience, contacting a plumber can save you valuable time and effort. A professional can quickly identify and resolve the issue, ensuring that your toilet is in working order without causing further inconvenience.

In conclusion

While this guide has empowered you with the knowledge and skills to tackle a running toilet head-on, we understand that some plumbing problems can be more complex or elusive than they first appear. If, despite your best efforts, your toilet continues to run and water wastage remains a concern, there’s no need to fret. In such cases, you have a reliable ally in PM247, your trusted plumbing professionals.

PM247 is your go-to solution for plumbing issues that go beyond the scope of DIY repairs. With their years of experience and expertise, PM247’s team of dedicated plumbers is well-equipped to address a wide range of plumbing problems, including the persistent challenge of a running toilet. They possess the knowledge, tools, and resources to diagnose and resolve intricate issues, ensuring your toilet operates efficiently and your home remains free from potential water damage.

By enlisting the services of PM247, you not only gain peace of mind but also contribute to water conservation efforts and lower utility bills. Their prompt and professional approach ensures that your plumbing issues are resolved efficiently, saving you time and preventing further inconvenience.

So, remember, when all else fails and the running toilet problem persists, PM247 is just a call away, ready to provide a plumbing solution that stands for quality, reliability, and peace of mind.

Call us on 0808 250 4203 or fill in the form here to get your running toilet fixed by a skilled PM247 plumber (UK wide service).