Uh oh, hear that? Toilet’s running. Or maybe it won’t flush. Or look, it’s right there: a leak. Whatever’s ultimately is with your toilet, you want to fix it now. Water loss can waste hundreds of gallons a day, damage property, and run up a stinger of a utility bill. And just the noise of a running toilet is annoying. But it’s Sunday, or it’s late at night, or you don’t want to have to call the plumber. What can you do? Answer: A lot more than you’d think.
With a few fundamentals and this basic checklist, even a newbie homeowner can diagnose a troublesome toilet.
IS IT THE FLAPPER?
- To avoid a messy overflow and sewage backup, step one is to lift the lid to the toilet tank and push down on the flapper—the piece in the tank that stops the water from going into the toilet bowl.
- Push down the flapper and wait for the water to stop. If the water doesn’t stop, the flapper isn’t sealing properly, and you need to replace it. To do that, first stop the water flow and empty the bowl:
- At least half an inch above the water line, cut the fill-tube length.
- Quickly turn off the water supply under the valve. If the valve also is leaking, turn off water for the entire house at the main supply.
- Drain out the water by flushing the toilet.
- Follow installation instructions on the flapper package.
Note: Hook the flapper chain onto the flush lever arm to allow a little slack when the flapper is closed.
IS THE PROBLEM FILL-VALVE LEAKAGE?
To check for a fill-valve leak, first drain the water by flushing the toilet. As the tank refills, raise the toilet float arm to see if the water stops. Adjust the toilet-float arm so that water stops at a one-half to one inch below the top of the overflow pipe.If the fill valve still leaks, replace asap. To do that:
- Remove the old fill valve: Quickly turn off the water supply, and then flush the toilet to drain out the water. After that unscrew the fill valve locknut and remove the old fill valve.
- Install the new fill valve: Carefully install the new fill valve following instructions on the package. Tighten the locknut a half turn past hand tight. Ensure that the overflow pipe is one inch lower than the critical mark on the fill valve.
- Connect the fill tube: Attach one end of the new fill tube to the fill-valve nipple and the other end to the enclosed angle adapter—then clip the angle adapter onto the overflow pipe. At the end, attach the flapper chain to the flush lever.
Are you sitting down? (Pun intended.) Chances are your toilet is back in working order, and you did it.