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Thread: please help non-plumbers with running toilet

  1. #1
    DIY Member alleycat's Avatar
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    Default please help non-plumbers with running toilet

    We have a two-year-old toilet that is running intermittently. It began to run every few flushes and would stop when we lifted the tank cover and tapped the black float (I think that's what it is), which would cause it to get unstuck and raise up enough to stop the running. Husband went in and cleaned out the tank and made sure there was nothing crudding up the seal, which solved the problem for a few months, but now it's back again. We know NOTHING about plumbing. Should we just call a plumber or is this something we can tackle ourselves?
    many thanks

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    If the fill valve has a long arm with a float on the end, you might consider changing it out to either a Fluidmaster or Korky fill valve. Either of them is less than $10, and are available at either of the big blue or orange box stores. Check your hose from the valve on the wall to the toilet and if it is plastic looking thing, consider replacing it with a reinforced stainless one at the same time - another couple of bucks.

    Shut the water off, flush the toilet and hold the handle down to empty th etank. Sponge out any water that is left in the tank, then take the hose off. Then unscrew the nut just above it on the tank and remove the old valve. Set the new one in place, tighten it down, reattach the hose (or replace it with the new one you bought - remember to measure how long it is so you get a similar replacement). Tighten everything up, turn the water on. You might have to adjust the fill height, but all of this is shown in the instructions that come with the valve. It's really pretty simple and you don't need anything more than a wrench, and then, only if you are going to replace the hose from the shutoff valve to install a new one. You might need some pliers or a wrench to remove the fill valve, but some have a wing nut.
    Jim DeBruycker
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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    DIY scratch-pad engineer leejosepho's Avatar
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    I used to have a toilet with a flush valve -- the "flapper" in the bottom of the tank -- that used to lose its seal every few weeks. In that particular case, the problem was the combination of an old flapper and some "slime" it seemed to have an ability to accumulate. Replacing that flapper valve is usually neither difficult nor expensive, and that is how I eventually solved that problem after cleaning it several times.

    However, and since you have mentioned bumping the float to get it to come up and close the fill valve, you would likely have to do that more than once between flushes, yes? For that valve to run constantly, water from the tank would have to be going somewhere.

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    If the valve is not shutting off, it runs down the overflow. This can end up being quite expensive on your water and sewer bill. It can really stress a septic system, too. Fix it sooner rather than later.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    DIY scratch-pad engineer leejosepho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jadnashua
    If the valve is not shutting off, it runs down the overflow.
    Ah! I made the mistake of assuming the float would not have been set that high.

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    They said the float lever was sticking...now, they might have meant the flapper valve.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    DIY Member alleycat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jadnashua
    They said the float lever was sticking...now, they might have meant the flapper valve.
    It seems we mean the float, not the flapper. We thought stuff might be clogging up the flapper (what covers the hole on the bottom of the tank, right?) but DH says the black float (shaped like a hockey puck) is getting stuck on the tube (it rises up to about a 1/4 inch short of where it needs to be) so that water keeps trickling into the overflow tube. Off we go to the hardware store. I'm glad it's not our only toilet (~:

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    DIY Member alleycat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jadnashua
    If the fill valve has a long arm with a float on the end, you might consider changing it out to either a Fluidmaster or Korky fill valve. Either of them is less than $10, and are available at either of the big blue or orange box stores.
    Also, I'm not sure if this is what it is. It is a vertical post with the rubber float on it. (It is a Kohler elongated bowl tall toilet)

    So it needs replacing rather than adjusting the water level?

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    DIY Member alleycat's Avatar
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    Okay, instead of going to the store, we found and checked the installation guide. We moved the C Clip in the tank a 1/4 inch down, thereby slightly reducing the water level in the tank. Now the float doesn't have to move as far up to engage the shutoff value and it works.
    Sound okay to you guys?
    Thanks for the help -

  10. #10
    DIY Senior Member TedL's Avatar
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    Where is the water level now relative to the specified level? Marked on tank, or given relative to some landmark (like the overflow tube) in instructions.

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    DIY Member alleycat's Avatar
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    the water line is about 1/2 inch lower than it was, and sitting maybe 1/3 inch below the white overflow tube

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    That should work...there should be a mark somewhere in the tank that shows "normal" water height. Sounds like you are okay. If the water isn't at the right height, there isn't enough "head" to generate the proper flush. Sounds like it is about where I'd expect it.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    DIY Member alleycat's Avatar
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    Thanks Jim!

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