How to Stop a Running Toilet

running toilet
Photo by Freepik

One of the most frustrating plumbing problems homeowners face is a running toilet. Jiggling the handle to fix the issue may work temporarily, but it is not a long-term solution. A running toilet can waste a lot of water and increase the water bill. Learning how to fix a running toilet can avoid wasting water and annoyance. By locating and addressing the underlying cause of the issue, you can easily fix the majority of running toilet problems.

5 Reasons Your Toilet Keeps Running

It’s essential to address the issue promptly to prevent potential damage to your toilet. By inspecting running toilet issues, you can diagnose why your toilet won’t stop running and take appropriate steps to fix it. If you’re unsure about any repairs, consider contacting a professional plumber for assistance.

Here are five common symptoms that indicate your toilet won’t stop running:

  • Audible Running Water — You can hear the sound of water running continuously in the toilet even when it hasn’t been flushed recently.
  • Constant Water Movement — If you remove the tank lid, you may notice that water is continually flowing into the overflow tube or leaking from the tank into the bowl without stopping.
  • Visible Water Leaks — You might see water pooling around the base of the toilet or dripping from the tank into the bowl, indicating a continuous flow of water.
  • High Water Bills — A continuously running toilet can significantly increase your water bills, especially if left unchecked for an extended period.
  • Intermittent Refilling — Your toilet tank may intermittently refill even when it hasn’t been flushed, indicating a leak or malfunction in the flushing mechanism.

How to Fix a Running Toilet

Fixing a running toilet typically involves identifying and addressing the issue causing the constant flow of water. If the tank water level is too high, it can overflow. Adjust the water level by adjusting the float valve to ensure it’s below the overflow tube’s top. If you’re unsure or uncomfortable with any of the steps, consider contacting a professional plumber for assistance. 

1. Identify the Problem

Your toilet could be running continuously for several reasons. Common causes include a faulty flapper, a stuck float, or a problem with the fill valve.

2. Check the Flapper

The flapper is the rubber seal at the bottom of the tank that controls the flow of water from the tank to the bowl. If it’s worn out, warped, or not properly sealed, water will leak into the bowl, causing the toilet to run continuously. To check the flapper, remove the tank lid and flush the toilet. If the flapper doesn’t close properly after the tank empties, it needs to be replaced.

3. Inspect the Float

The float is a mechanism that controls the tank’s water level. If the float is set too high, water can overflow into the overflow tube, leading to a continuously running toilet. Adjust the float to ensure it’s set at the correct level, usually indicated by a marked line on the overflow tube.

4. Misaligned Flush Handle or Chain

Sometimes, the flush handle or chain connecting the handle to the flapper can become misaligned or tangled. This prevents the flapper from sealing properly after flushing, leading to a continuous flow of water into the bowl. Ensure that the flush handle and chain are properly connected and functioning.

5. Check the Fill Valve

The fill valve regulates the flow of water into the tank after flushing. If it’s malfunctioning, water may continuously flow into the tank, causing the toilet to run. To test the fill valve, flush the toilet and listen for any hissing or running water sounds. If you hear these sounds, the fill valve may be faulty and needs to be replaced.

6. Inspect the Overflow Tube

The overflow tube prevents the tank from overflowing by directing excess water into the bowl. If the tube is damaged or improperly positioned, it can cause the toilet to run continuously. Ensure that the tube is intact and positioned correctly.

7. Check for Leaks

Sometimes, leaks around the tank or bowl can also cause the toilet to run continuously. Look for any signs of water pooling around the toilet base or dripping from the tank. If you detect any leaks, tighten the bolts connecting the tank to the bowl or replace any worn-out seals.

8. Replace Faulty Parts

Once you’ve identified the problem, replace any faulty components such as the flapper, fill valve, float, or overflow tube. These parts are relatively inexpensive and can be found at most hardware stores.

9. Test the Toilet

After making the necessary repairs or replacements, flush the toilet and observe if the problem has been resolved. Ensure that the tank fills to the appropriate level and that water stops running once the tank is full.

running toilet
Photo by Freepik

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my toilet running constantly?

A constantly running toilet can be caused by various issues, such as a faulty flapper, a stuck float, a malfunctioning fill valve, a leak in the tank or bowl, or an improperly adjusted water level.

Will a running toilet increase my water bill?

Yes, a running toilet can significantly increase your water bill over time as it leads to continuous water wastage. Addressing the issue promptly can help prevent unnecessary expenses.

How do I know if I need to replace parts of my toilet?

If your toilet continues to run after attempting basic troubleshooting steps like adjusting the float or flapper, you may need to replace parts such as the flapper, fill valve, or float assembly. Signs of wear, damage, or malfunctioning parts also indicate a need for replacement.

Should I call a plumber to fix a running toilet?

While many running toilet issues can be fixed DIY, if you’re unsure about troubleshooting or uncomfortable with toilet repairs, it’s advisable to call a plumber. Plumbers have the expertise and tools to diagnose and fix more complex issues, ensuring proper functioning and preventing further damage.


Toilets are not very sophisticated fixtures, but it is crucial that any repairs or replacements are carried out correctly. Running toilets are annoying, but you can usually stop them from running if you follow these helpful tips. We strongly encourage you to contact a professional plumber to resolve any issues with your fill valve, tank, or bowl. Get in touch with True Plumbing right now to arrange for new toilet tank installation or plumbing repair services.