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Fix a Running Toilet: How To Stop a Toilet That Keeps Running

A noisy, constantly running toilet is a waste of water and money for households so we’re guessing you want to know how to stop a toilet that keeps running? Here’s a guide to troubleshooting the problem and figuring out when to call in a professional.

Summary: Key Points for Households

  • Check your fill valve first – water level adjustments often fix continuously running toilets.
  • Pay attention to the seal on the flush valve for potential leaks.
  • Remember to turn off the water supply before taking a closer look.
  • Contact a plumber if DIY fixes don’t solve the problem.

What Makes UK Toilets Run Continuously?

  • Worn-Out Fill Valve (or Ballcock): The fill valve controls water entry into the cistern (tank). If it’s malfunctioning, it may not shut off properly or not refill to the correct level.
  • Issues with the Overflow: Water should rise to a level below the overflow outlet. If it continuously flows into the overflow, you have a water level problem likely caused by the fill valve.
  • Problem with the Flush Valve: If the seal at the bottom of the flush valve (often a rubber ‘donut’) is damaged, water leaks continuously into the toilet bowl.
  • Less Common Causes: Cracked or damaged cisterns, or problems with the water supply line

How to Fix a Running Toilet in the UK

Remember to turn off the water supply to your toilet first. The shut-off valve is usually located behind or to the side of the toilet base.

Step 1: Focus on the Fill Valve

  • Carefully lift off the cistern lid.
  • Is the water level close to, or running into, the overflow outlet? This signals a fill valve issue.
  • Adjust the float if possible. Floats sometimes come in two parts or may have a screw adjustment to modify the water level. Lower the water level so it’s at least an inch below the overflow.
  • If issues persist after adjustment, replacing the entire fill valve might be necessary. These are easily found at DIY stores.

Step 2: Check the Flush Valve

  • Carefully lift the flush valve – check the rubber washer or ‘donut’ seal for degradation, warping, or mineral buildup. If damaged, this should be replaced.
  • Inspect for any other signs of damage or a loose connection within the flush valve unit.

Step 3: Troubleshooting Additional Components

  • Overflow Outlet: Verify that water isn’t continuously running into the overflow outlet. If it is, you likely still need to adjust or replace your fill valve to regulate the water level properly.
  • Water Supply Line: Make sure the water supply line feeding the cistern is intact and not leaking.

My Toilet Won’t Stop Running – What Now?

  • Narrowing It Down: After completing the steps above, observe the cistern. Does it continuously refill, or do you see water trickling from the flush valve into the bowl? This helps isolate the problem area.
  • Calling the Plumber: If you’re still facing a running toilet despite these fixes, a plumber can help diagnose complicated issues or handle larger-scale replacements.

Preventing Future Toilet Tank Troubles

  • Occasional Checks: Taking a quick look into the cistern every so often will help you spot potential issues before they become serious.
  • Unusual Sounds: Listen for faint refilling between flushes. This could indicate a small leak or problem with the fill valve.
  • Don’t Delay Fixes: Early resolution of a running toilet avoids unnecessary water waste and potential damage.

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