How to Fix a Leaking Toilet

Fixing a running or leaking toilet is a pain in the you-know-what, but we all have to do it at some point or other. A running toilet is sort of like a bad comedian; it just doesn’t know when to stop. Whether it’s running sporadically or constantly leaks into the bowl, your toilet is wasting a lot of water and is more than likely keeping you up at night. Depending upon the size of your leak, you can lose between 7 and 500 gallons of water a day from a leaking toilet. That means that a standard leaking toilet will cost you on average about $70 a month, or $840 a year.

In most cases, it is possible to fix a running toilet without needing the expertise of a licensed technician. However, before tackling such a task, it’s important to do your research.

Before diving in, first turn off your water (silver knob located on the wall behind your toilet) and then cover the basics. Get to know your toilet. In order to figure out which part of your toilet is leaking, it’s important to know what and where each component is. You may be wondering if the water in your tanks is dirty. Well, it’s not! The water in your tank is clean, so it’s perfectly all right to adjust parts without having to wear protective gloves.

Fix a Leaking Toilet


A. Toilet flush lever

B. Rubber flapper blocking the tank water from descending into the bowl. It is connected to the toilet flush lever above.

C. Pump that refills the tank after it empties.

D. Ball float that raises and lowers with the water level to tell the pump when to go and stop.

E. The overflow tube, which sets the high water level in the tank.

So now that you know where each part is located, it’s time to figure out where exactly the problem is.

How to Fix a Leaking Toilet

1. Turn off the water – Turn off the water to your toilet by tightening the little silver knob behind the toilet, next to the wall.

2. Open the lid to the tank and flush – Watch as the water goes down the toilet valve at the bottom of the tank. Hopefully you can see the problem right away, whether it is an object getting in the way of the flapper closing or the toilet chain getting stuck or caught on something.

3. Check the fill valve – Having an inadequate amount of water in your tank will cause the toilet to run. Also, check your fill valve to see if it is on all the way. If it is not on all the way, turn it and your tank should begin filling up to the water line.

4. Test the flapper – Use a stick or your finger to push down on the flapper. Listen for the water to stop running. If the water doesn’t stop, then you have a flapper that hasn’t been sealed properly. We recommend replacing it.

5. Adjust/Replace the ball float – If your ball float is in bad shape or waterlogged, you will need to replace it.

If your ball float is in working order, pull the float up to see if the water stops running. If this stops the flow, adjust its level so that the tank will stop filling once the water is roughly an inch below the top of the overflow tube.

If the float happens to be around the valve post, try pinching the metal clip and move the float down on the wire.

If the float is a ball on an arm, locate the small screws on top of the valve and turn them. Tighten the screw with your screwdriver to lower the ball float and vice versa.

6. Adjust/Replace the toilet fill valve

To remove the old valve, flush the toilet and using a sponge, soak up the remaining water from the tank. Then, disconnect the water supply line, unscrew the fill valve locknut and take out the old fill valve.

To install the new fill valve, follow the manufacture’s instructions and tighten the locknut a half past hand tight. In order to connect the fill tube, attach one end of the new fill tube to the valve nipple. Attach the other end to the enclosed angle adapter. Fasten the angle adapter onto the overflow pipe.

If you cannot locate the source of your leaking toilet problem or have run in to more serious troubles, don’t hesitate to give Boulden Brothers a call. Whether you need a replacement part or an entirely new toilet, we can will take no shortcuts to ensure that everything is running smoothly again.

It can be a huge inconvenience when something in your bathroom plumbing goes wrong. No matter what type of plumbing services you need, Boulden Brothers is the right choice if you are located in the greater Wilmington & Dover, DE area. We know bathrooms and have the skilled plumbers on staff to tackle any installation, maintenance or repair job.

If you have any further questions on how to fix or prevent a leaking toilet, talk to the licensed, trained technicians at Boulden Brothers.

Visit us on our websiteFacebook, Twitter, and Google+ or give us a call at (302) 368-3848 for more information on maintaining a Green home. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer any questions you might have.