We’ve written posts before about toilet plumbing emergencies, such as when a toilet overflows. Toilet plumbing is a major part of the job of any professional plumbers, and we’re ready to help no matter what repairs you may need for your toilet, including installing a new one. (This is something we recommend if your toilet is more than 20 years old. Just the savings you’ll enjoy from the lower water use will make it worth it.)
We’re going to look at another toilet plumbing problem that may not seem like it’s an emergency—but it’s still something you’ll need to have fixed as soon as you can or else it will create a massive amount of water waste.
A toilet that won’t stop running
When you push down the flush level (or button) on a toilet, water from the tank rushes down into the bowl to flush it out. Then water starts to enter the tank through the refill tube. When the water level in the tank reaches a set level—just below the opening of the overflow tube—the water flow from the feed line will shut off. This process usually takes about a minute.
However, if you hear the sound of water running more than a minute after the last time the toilet was flushed, something is wrong that is causing water to continue to flow into the tank. Sometimes all it takes to fix this is to flush the toilet again or jiggle the handle. But what if this doesn’t fix the problem, or it continues to reoccur? You’ll have an issue that may need repairs from professionals. If you let the trouble go, it will waste water and you won’t be able to flush the toilet while it’s running.
Why this problem might happen
There are a couple of possible causes for a toilet to keep running or run for longer than it should. A common one, which often happens with aging toilets, is worn down gaskets. These form a seal between the tank and the bowl. If water starts to escape from the gaskets, the drop in water from the tank will cause the refill tube to continue to fill it. It also leads to water leaking around the toilet, which can cause serious water damage.
Often, the trouble is in the tank itself. The flapper, which seals off the bottom of the tank after the flush is finished to allow water to fill up again, can start to decay and lose its sealing ability. It will be necessary to have it replaced. The float in the tank, which shuts off the water flow when the water rises high enough, can also malfunction and not shut off the flow from the feedline. A damaged refill tube will also lead to continuous running.
Although you can open up the tank and try to tinker with the flapper or other components, we don’t recommend this. Sometimes it’s hard to find what the exact cause of the problem is. Professionals can identify and fix the problem quickly, as well as offer advice about whether it’s time to put in a new toilet.
Red Rock Mechanical, LLC serves Northeast Vermont and Southwest New York. Turn to us for plumbing, heating, and air conditioning services.