How to Fix a Leaking Toilet

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How to Fix a Leaking ToiletA constantly running toilet isn’t just annoying—it wastes water and adds to your utility bill. Shut off the water supply valve and drain the toilet tank and bowl.Plumbers | MJFRICK teaches how to work in a bathroom, and why I require the use of rubber gloves and eye protection.This is especially true if you are trying to fix a bathroom leak.1. Check the Water LevelIf your toilet bowl doesn’t fill properly, it could be caused by a number of problems, but the first thing to check is whether or not your water level is too low. To do this, remove the tank lid and set it aside on a stable surface. Be careful, since most toilet tank lids are made of ceramic and can break easily.Depending on your toilet, you may have a line printed or etched on the inside of the tank that indicates where the water should be. If not, you can usually determine the correct water level by examining the float arm or float height.Some metal or plastic float arms have a release clip that can be squeezed to raise or lower the float. Others have an adjustment dial at the top of the float that can be turned clockwise to raise the water level or counterclockwise to lower it.2. Check the Fill ValveIf the tank is leaking but your flapper or tank ball are okay, it could be that your fill valve is faulty. Like the float arm, it’s responsible for refilling the toilet between flushes to keep water levels in the bowl consistent.To check for a broken fill valve, shut off your toilet’s water supply using the isolation valve on the water line. Then, remove the lid and drain what little water is in there by putting it in a bucket (if you don’t have a bucket, use the sink’s overflow tube).Next, unscrew and remove your old fill valve, making sure to disconnect the fill tube from the float arm or float column (depending on your model). Turn the screw that connects the water line to the new fill valve counterclockwise until it’s tight enough to hear a click or snap. This ensures it won’t leak in the future. You may also need to shorten the tube that attaches to the overflow tube if it’s too long—it should make a smooth bend without any kinks in it when connected to the valve nipple.3. Check the FloatYour toilet’s float, a plastic ball attached to an arm at the top of the fill valve, determines how much water the tank retains. If the float is too high, it can prevent the fill valve from shutting off. This can cause the flush valve to stay on, resulting in a constant flow of water from the tank into your toilet bowl.Fortunately, this problem is easy to fix. First, examine your float to make sure it’s not broken or leaking. If the float is too low, lower it by pinching a release clip on the cylinder. Some floats have an adjustment dial near the top of the rod that connects to the fill valve; raising this dial will raise your float’s height.If your float isn’t adjusting correctly, check the screw on top of the fill valve. Turning this screw clockwise will raise the float’s height, and counterclockwise will lower it. If the float doesn’t seem to be working, it may need to be replaced.4. Check the FlapperIf your toilet has a leaky flapper, it could waste hundreds of gallons of water a day. The good news is that fixing it is usually pretty simple.First, shut off your water supply and flush the tank to drain it. Next, disconnect the chain from the handle lever (a small metal bar that runs across the tank). Then remove the flapper from the overflow tube by either unscrewing it or removing the side ears on the overflow tube’s pegs, depending on its design.Before replacing the flapper, you should clean it. Mineral buildup can cause a poor seal and prevent the flapper from sealing correctly. Once you’ve cleaned it, screw in the new flapper and hook its chain to the handle lever. If you’re using a tabbed flapper, make sure the chains are the correct length. Otherwise, the chain may get stuck between the flapper and opening in the handle. It’s best to use factory-made parts when replacing them.