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How Do I Stop My Toilet From Running Randomly?

fixing a randomly running toilet

A toilet that keeps refilling isn’t just a minor annoyance; it can also significantly increase your water bill and waste a lot of water. Understanding why your toilet may start running unexpectedly and how to fix it can save you money and prevent potential damage to your bathroom. Read on to learn how to diagnose and fix a running toilet — and when it’s time to call a professional.

Why Does My Toilet Randomly Run for a Few Seconds

Before you can fix your toilet running intermittently, you need to understand what’s causing it to run. Here are the most common culprits:

Cause 1: Faulty Flapper

A running toilet is often caused by a flapper that doesn’t seal properly. Over time, the flapper can become brittle or warped, which prevents it from sealing the flush valve opening. To inspect the flapper, turn off the water to the toilet, flush to drain the tank, and examine the flapper. If the flapper is cracked, misshapen, or covered in mineral deposits, it needs to be replaced.

How to Fix it:

Turn off the water supply to the toilet at the shutoff valve. Flush the toilet to drain the tank. Remove the old flapper by unhooking it from the flush valve and lifting it off the chain. Install a new flapper that matches your toilet model. Reattach the chain without giving it too much slack — enough to allow the flapper to seal properly. Turn the water back on and test the flush to ensure the new flapper is functioning correctly.

Cause 2: Overflow Tube Issues

The overflow tube helps prevent the tank from overflowing by directing excess water into the bowl. If the water level in the tank is too high, it may continuously leak into the bowl through the overflow tube, causing your toilet to keep refilling.

How to Check it:

Examine the water level relative to the overflow tube. If the water is too high, adjust the float mechanism. This can usually be done by either turning a screw or sliding a clip along a rod, depending on your toilet model. Adjust the float so that the water stops filling about an inch below the top of the overflow tube.

Cause 3: Fill Valve Problems

The fill valve controls the amount of water in the tank after the toilet is flushed. A malfunctioning fill valve can cause the tank to overfill or fill erratically, causing the toilet to run intermittently.

How to Fix it:

First, inspect the fill valve for visible signs of wear or damage. If adjustment of the water level doesn’t stop the toilet from running, replace the fill valve. Turn off the water supply and flush the toilet to empty the tank. 

Then, remove the old fill valve by loosening the nut that holds it to the tank. Install the new valve following the manufacturer’s instructions, adjusting it to the correct height. Reconnect the refill tube, turn the water back on, and adjust the float to ensure the water fills to the proper level.

When to Contact a Plumber to Fix a Toilet That Keeps Refilling

While tackling toilet repairs as a DIY project can be satisfying and cost-effective, certain scenarios call for the expertise of a professional plumber. Understanding when to make this call can save you time and prevent potential complications. 

Persistent Problems

Persistent issues might indicate a deeper, less visible problem, such as small leaks in hidden pipes or issues with the toilet’s internal plumbing that aren’t easily accessible. A professional plumber can perform a comprehensive diagnostic check to identify and resolve these underlying issues. 

Complex Mechanisms

Modern toilets often feature advanced technologies and mechanisms that might be beyond the scope of traditional DIY repairs. Suppose your toilet has integrated systems such as dual flush options or pressure-assisted flush mechanisms. In that case, a professional plumber will have the necessary expertise and tools to handle these sophisticated features correctly. 

Missteps when handling these components can lead to further damage or a malfunctioning toilet. Professional handling ensures that complex components are properly managed and functional.

Multiple Plumbing Issues

If you notice multiple fixtures exhibiting problems or your running toilet is part of broader systemic issues, it could indicate more serious plumbing concerns. In situations like these, getting an assessment from a professional is often the most effective route. This way, you address systemic problems efficiently and safely before they snowball.

Lack of Tools or Expertise

DIY plumbing repairs require specific tools and a basic understanding of plumbing systems. If you’re missing the necessary tools or feel uncertain about performing repairs safely, calling a professional is advisable. Plumbers come equipped with the right tools and expertise, reducing the risk of mistakes that could lead to water damage or costly future repairs.

Contact Four Seasons Plumbing to Fix Your Running Toilet

While many toilet issues can be fixed with DIY methods, recognizing when to involve a professional is crucial. Four Seasons Plumbing is a family-owned and operated company committed to providing the highest level of service possible — we even offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee.

From fixing a toilet that keeps refilling to handling plumbing emergencies, our team of experienced professional plumbers will provide the solution you need. Contact us today to learn more and schedule your service.

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Max Rose - Owner of Four Seasons Plumbing


Max Rose

Max Rose is the owner of Four Seasons Plumbing, a plumbing company in Asheville, North Carolina.