In North America, we take clean water out of a faucet for granted, but over 663 million people live without a safe water supply close to home. These people spend hours every day trekking long distances or standing in line to fill their buckets and pails, a necessity if they want to avoid the health consequences of drinking contaminated water.
As you go about your daily routine – working, shopping, and taking the kids to school – what can you possibly do to make a difference in your everyday life? One simple goal you can strive for is to conserve water wherever possible.
Your toilet may run intermittently or continuously, depending on what’s causing the problem. It’s important to stop this wastefulness as quickly as possible because an ignored toilet leak can waste more than 10,000 gallons of water a year.
How to Fix a Running Toilet
Several factors could be causing your toilet to run. Follow these steps to stop the toilet from leaking water into the bowl:
Check the Flapper
If the toilet flushes fine but continues to run nonstop, the flapper is probably stuck open. Lift off the tank lid, reach your hand in (don’t worry, the water is clean) and close the flapper. If the problem happens again, look for a cause:
- If the chain is catching on the flapper, shorten it.
- If a flapper hinge has come loose, reattach it.
- If the flapper doesn’t align with the opening, adjust it.
Fiddle with the Valve and Float
While the flapper is the most likely culprit, the valve and float might also be to blame. Follow these troubleshooting tips:
- If the float seems low, pull up on it with your hand. If this stops the flow, adjust the float level so the water turns off about one inch from the top of the overflow tube.
- If the float ball has a hole in it, it may be waterlogged and cause overflowing, even if the valve is functioning correctly. Unscrew the float ball and if you hear water when you shake it, replace it.
- If pulling up on the float ball doesn’t stop the toilet from running, you may need to replace the whole refill valve assembly. Turn off water to the toilet and call a plumber for assistance.
Replace the Flapper
If the flapper seal is visibly worn or a hinge has broken, replace it. Bring the old flapper with you to make sure you buy the correct replacement.
To remove the old flapper, turn the shut-off valve behind the toilet, flush to empty the tank, detach the flapper from the chain, and pop it off its hinges. Attach the new flapper by following this process in reverse.
Once you turn the water back on, make sure the tank fills properly. Perform a couple of test flushes to make sure the chain is at the proper length. Adjust it if necessary.