• Typically, a running toilet can be fixed by replacing the "flapper" that covers the fill valve in the tank. Photo: A Reliable Handyman (2017)

  • Prior to replacing your toilet's flapper, shut off the water and flush to empty the tank; this will allow you to work more easily. Photo: A Reliable Handyman (2017)

  • To remove the old flapper, unhook its chain from the flush lever and remove it from its hinges. Photo: A Reliable Handyman (2017)

Gifford Teeple is owner of A Reliable Handyman. To reach Gifford Teeple call (510) 200-0450.
How to Fix a Running Toilet

EL CERRITO – If you notice your toilet running intermittently throughout the day, you may think it’s just a minor annoyance, but it’s actually costing you money. A running toilet is caused by water slowly leaking out of the tank into the bowl. When the tank’s water level gets too low, the toilet thinks it’s being flushed and brings in more water to restore the correct level. Over time, this can result in substantial water waste and higher utility bills.

Typically, a running toilet issue can be resolved by replacing the “flapper” that covers the fill valve at the bottom of the tank. This is something you can easily do yourself without tools. Here’s how it’s done:

1. Turn off the water to the toilet at the shut-off valve, which is located on the wall near the toilet. Take the lid off the tank and flush the toilet to drain it; this will allow you to work without getting wet and prevent water waste.

2. Remove the old flapper by unhooking the chain from the flush lever and lifting the flapper off of its hinges.

3. Take the old flapper to your local hardware store and find a new one that matches it. This is important, since there are many different kinds of flappers.

4. Install the new flapper. Simply replace it the same way you removed the old one and reattach the chain to the flush lever. Turn the water back on, replace the lid and do a test flush. If you have any issues with the toilet not flushing correctly, you probably need to adjust the length of the chain by hooking it lower or higher on the flush lever. If the running persists, there may be other factors at play, in which case you should call a plumber or handyman.

Gifford Teeple is a longtime veteran of the home repair industry and owner of A Reliable Handyman, a Diamond Certified company since 2005. He can be reached at (510) 200-0450 or by email.

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