How to Fix a Constantly Running Toilet and Reduce Your Water Bill

Tom Hartelby Tom Hartel
plumber hands with tools and faucets

If you’re going to have a problem with your toilet, you’d probably rather it constantly run rather than be clogged. However, once that first month’s water bill shows up after the toilet has been acting up for weeks, you’re going to change your tune.

A constantly running toilet can release 200 gallons of water a day. That doubles an entire family’s water use for a day. What that costs you depends on where you live. In Chicago, more and more homeowners are experiencing sticker shock as water bills continue to go higher and higher, which means getting that toilet fixed is going to be a priority.

Rather than procrastinate because you think it’s not something you can fix, take into account that people with little to no plumbing experience can tackle this problem.

ID your toilet

Unfortunately, toilets not only come in different shapes and sizes, the parts that you’ll need to fix or replace differ by type. Some are wall mounted while others are bolted to the floor. Some have a single piece while others are two-piece. But most importantly, you need to check to see if yours has a fill tank with a flapper valve or if it has a pressure unit where the water is contained within the unit.

Gravity feed

The most common toilet type is the gravity feed toilet. Quite simply, this uses gravity to flush down the waste. The tank behind the bowl is higher and filled with water. When the flush lever is pushed, the chain lifts the flapper and water rushes down into the bowl.

If you’re having issues with water constantly running, the first thing to check is the chain connected to the lever and the flapper inside the tank. Remove the lid from the top of the tank and see if you have and see if you have a kink in it. A kink will prevent the flapper from completely covering the outlet, causing water to constantly run. Also, if the downspout has a rough edge, the sealing unit won’t correctly seat. Take a piece of sandpaper and smooth out the edge, but don’t go too deep. Also, make sure the flapper doesn’t have any mineral deposits on it. If it does, submerge it in vinegar for 30 minutes and scrub off the buildup.

The fill valve could also be damaged, leading to water constantly running. Fortunately, if yours is malfunctioning, they are relatively inexpensive to replace. You’ll need to turn off your water supply, drain the tank and use an adjustable wrench to take the old valve out. Connect the new valve and attach the water supply line to it. You’ll need to adjust the water level at the side of the valve so that you’re getting the right amount of water in your tank after each flush.

Pressure assist

Another common toilet type, though not as common as the gravity feed, is the pressure assist toilet. It has a powerful flushing mechanism, which makes it loud, but much more efficient – using less water.

When a toilet like this fails, it’s usually the pressure regulator. Generally, the tank pressure is set at 30 psi for a consistent flush. When the regulator fails, the pressure gets below 30 pounds and the valve will make noises as it tries and fails over and over again to fully seal.

Turn off the water to the toilet and flush the toilet empty. Disconnect the water supply line and unbolt the tank from the toilet. Unscrew any nuts that are holding the unit to the tank. Pull the pressure assist unit out of the tank and use a knife to cut off the defective pressure regulator. Install the new regulator and reattach everything. Turn the water back on and test flush to make sure everything is working.

Know when to call a plumber

At Old World Plumbing, we’ve helped clients throughout Chicagoland with their plumbing issues, including running toilets. Our plumbers are highly trained and have years of experience assisting homeowners with their plumbing issues. Contact us today and let’s get your toilet fixed so your next water bill doesn’t cause sticker shock.

Tom Hartel
President/Author
Tom Hartel

I acquired my expertise by directing day-to-day operations of the business for over 20 years. Continuous hard work helped me become a nationally recognized speaker and expert on plumbing and fire protection systems. In this blog, I share my knowledge that will hopefully help you make better decisions for your homes.

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