Fixing a Running Toilet

Hi, I am Leo the repair guy. I've been fixing houses and doing household repairs now for 30 years. I'm here to help you with one of your most common toilet problems and to give you easy directions to fix this yourself. With plumbers charging outrageous prices, this is a repair you can easily do yourself.


Toilet Run on is one of the most common problems you can have with a toilet and it can cost you lots of money in water bills. There is occasionally a toilet that runs or flushes on it's own. You might not hear it until late at night when the kids are asleep and their TVs or stereos are off or you might just hear a sudden flush of water for a moment a few times during the day or night.

In general, because there are different types of systems, the cause is a defective flapper valve. This is located in your toilet tank centered in the bottom of the tank. Your flush handle has a chain or rubber strap that raises this flapper when you push down the handle to allow the tank water to rush into the bowl tow flush away waste. When these flappers wear out they allow water to pass by them when the handle is not lowered. When the water level gets low enough the float will lower with it and eventually tell the fill valve to put more water into the tank until the float is raised enough to close the fill valve. This is the Run on effect.

Diagnosing the Problem

If you suspect this but are not sure, try a little food coloring in your tank. Wait 5 or 10 minutes. Then check your bowl for that color. If there is no color in the bowl, wait an additional 20 minutes. If there is no color in the bowl then it is probably fine. If you have color in your bowl, you will need to repair this problem


To repair this yourself, first turn off the valve located below the left side of your toilet tank. I suggest laying an old towel down in your bath tub then remove the tank lid and lay it on the towel so that it is safe and out of the way. Watch as you push down on the flush lever. Look at where the flapper pivots usually at the bottom of the over flow tube, Take mental notes, repeat the raising of the flapper 2 or more times until the tank has emptied. Remove the chain from the handle lever in the tank. Reach in carefully, pull the flappers arms off the pivot posts. Compare your old flapper with your new one as you may have to cut away the new tube mount, scissors will do.

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5 Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

My landlord refuses to fix my toilet which is running. I am worried about my water and sewer bills going up. He stated he dosen't hear it running. All he did was lower the water level and it doesn't help. What do I do?

By sarah


January 31, 20150 found this helpful

Get a toilet kit at the hardware store. It will consist of a toilet ball, chain and tank seal. Watch youtube videos to learn how to put it in yourself.

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February 4, 20150 found this helpful

That is good advice. Make a video on your phone and send it to the owner. If they won't help, keep keep the receipt and send a copy to the owner for a refund. If they pay water/sewer/garbage then don't worry about the increase. Most apt's do so document all correspondence with the manager.

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I put in a new flapper in my toilet and occasionally it runs like it is flushing. Is this normal or do I need to fix it and how? Does this make my water bill higher?

By sandra from Salem, OR


April 4, 20110 found this helpful

Yes, it can make a huge water bill, make sure you fix it or get it fixed ASAP.

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April 4, 20110 found this helpful

Try adjusting the chain length first but the handle itself might need to be replaced if it's loose or sticking. Doing one or both of those things have always worked for me including here in my apartment. And definitely that water running is going to run up your water bill :-(

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April 3, 2011

Fixing a Running Toilet. My toilet drips into the bowl constantly. How do I fix it?

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