Do You Have a Running Toilet? Check Out These Top Causes and Easy Fixes

A close-up of a toilet bowl with water running down the sides and into the drain below.
As an often unspoken part of your Centereach home, toilets are rarely spoken about or acknowledged. Though we like to pretend they don’t exist, they’re one of the most important inventions in human history. If ignored long enough, toilets will eventually develop issues, some of which can cause water waste and water damage. If you have a running toilet in Centereach, NY, you know exactly what we’re talking about.

In this article, we’ll teach you everything you need to know to stop your toilet from running, including:

  • How toilets work
  • Why it’s important to repair a running toilet as soon as possible
  • Centereach: running toilet causes and fixes based on each cause
  • Preventative measures you can take to avoid a running toilet problem in the future

By the end of this article, you’ll know whether your plumbing issue is something you can fix on your own or whether you need to call an experienced Centereach plumber from Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Central Long Island.

How Do Toilets Work?

Whether you’re a student renting your first apartment in Centereach or a stay-at-home mom or dad whose partner works a lot, understanding how a toilet works—on a basic level—is the knowledge that you should have. Understanding the mechanics of this system will help you identify any malfunctions that come up, as well as give you insight into how to best maintain this much-used plumbing fixture.

The most complicated part of understanding how a toilet works are getting down the terminology for all its different parts. These parts include:

  • Flush handle. As its name suggests, this is the lever you press to flush your toilet. When you press this flush handle, the flapper lifts up, and the flush valve allows water to gush into the bowl.
  • Flapper. Flappers are plastic or rubber plugs located in your toilet’s tank. When the flush handle is pressed, it opens to release water and then closes to stop it. Flappers are connected to flush handles by a flapper chain and a flush arm.
  • Rim jets and siphon jets. As water is released by the flapper, rim jets and siphon jets channel this water into the toilet bowl.
  • The float ball and float arm. As water from your tank empties, your float ball drops, causing its float arm to pull open the fill valve. Fresh water then rushes through the water supply line, up the fill tube, and into your toilet tank. As this tank refills, the ball float rises and causes the fill valve to shut again.
  • Overflow pipe. Connected to fill valves, overflow pipes (also known as overflow tubes) prevent your bathroom from flooding by eliminating excess water in the tank in the event that their float balls malfunction.

All of these components work together, alongside gravity, to safely and quickly dispose of waste within your home. But because this ingenious system is quite complex, there are also several things that can go wrong, resulting in a need for Centereach running toilet repair.

Why It's Important to Fix a Centereach Running Toilet

Some toilet leaks are so quiet that you may not even be aware that you have a problem. In these cases, Centereach homeowners and landlords often find out that they have a toilet issue when their utility bill arrives.

A medium-sized toilet leak can waste a whopping 250 gallons of water per day or 7500 gallons per month. This massive increase in consumption is certain to make a sizable impact on how much of your budget goes to your utility companies in Centereach. It’s important to get a running toilet fixed right away, not just to prevent water from being wasted but to save you from paying for the supply you haven’t used. Additionally, the longer a leak goes on, the greater the chance that other areas of your home will be subjected to water damage. Soaked floorboards and drywall are other costly repairs to add to your list.

Though hiring a skilled plumber for more complicated toilet repairs has a labor and parts cost, this service will cost less than a leaky toilet. If damage is major enough to require a toilet replacement instead, consider water-conserving toilet installation to save more money on your energy bill going forward.

Toilet Won't Stop Running? Try These Fixes for Common Causes

The most common sign of a running toilet is, well, running water. If your toilet isn’t in a part of your home that is frequently used, you may not be aware that it’s constantly running—especially if it’s running very slowly. As discussed, another common sign of a running toilet in Centereach is a utility bill that is much higher than normal and not expected.

Once you’ve identified a running toilet, how can you determine the cause? Some of the most common causes of a running or leaking toilet include:

  • A leaking flapper.
  • A damaged float ball.
  • A broken fill tube.
  • A worn gasket.

Each of these problems tends to occur due to old age or incorrect installation. If you recently installed your toilet, or on the contrary, can’t remember when you installed it or replaced any parts, it’s likely your Centereach running toilet is a result of one of these causes. Determining exactly which one is the problem is where it gets tricky. To identify the underlying problems and eliminate them fast, you can count on your certified Centereach plumber or follow these troubleshooting tips.

Flapper Troubleshooting

If a worn-out flapper is the culprit of your running toilet in Centereach, count yourself lucky. Rubber flappers are incredibly inexpensive to replace and can be done on your own without much fuss.

The first thing to look at when troubleshooting issues with a flapper is its chain. A chain that is too short will prevent the flapper from sealing off your toilet tank and toilet bowl, causing water to continue to trickle into the bowl. How do you know if your flapper chain is too short? Generally, while in a closed position, flapper chains should have just a tiny bit of slack. No slack and the chain is too short. Too much slack and the chain is too long. Rather than messing around with the chain, head out to your local hardware store and pick up a replacement. If the replacement chain is too long, use a pair of cutters to remove any excess length.

Does your toilet in Centereach not just continuously run but actually seem to flush itself without anyone else in the room? Don’t worry—you don’t have a ghost. At least, we don’t think you do. The most probable cause is that your toilet's rubber flapper has begun to crack and degrade, causing water to seep into the bowl ever so slowly and resulting in those unexpected flushes.

To find the correct replacement flapper, simply shut off your supply line, remove your old flapper, and take it with you to your local parts store. Having it with you will allow you to match it to a compatible replacement without having to take multiple trips back and forth. There are also universal flappers on the market today who work on multiple styles of tanks.

Float Ball Troubleshooting

Does your toilet flapper chain seem to be correctly sized? Is the flapper itself still in great condition? A flapper that fails to seal may not be due to a problem with the flapper itself but with your float ball. To test this theory, take the tank lid off and lift up the float arm. If your toilet stops running immediately, you’ve found the culprit.

It may be that your float has been set too high. Flush your toilet and watch to see if the refill stops at the fill level mark. This mark should be inscribed somewhere on the inside of the tank. If you’re having trouble seeing it, take a Sharpie and mark that same level on your overflow tube. If there’s an issue with the float, the incoming water flow won’t stop at this point.

To adjust the float's height, you’ll have to do one of two things, depending on how old your toilet is. For older toilet models in Centereach, grab a pair of pliers and very gently bend the float arm to raise or lower it. Newer toilets usually have an adjustable part directly on the rod. Regardless of the type you have, make very small adjustments and flush in between each adjustment until you get an optimal result.

Fill Tube Troubleshooting

If the fill tube is too long, it could be continuously pumping water into your toilet tank and bowl. This tube should be higher than the water level; otherwise, excess fluid will be forced into the overflow tube. Check to make sure that it is positioned so that water flows inside of the overflow tube. If it’s not, your Centereach running toilet is likely due to incorrect fill tube placement.

The best way to repair a faulty fill tube is by replacing it with a new one. When installing a new tube, push it onto the fill valve, making sure it fits tightly. It should curve overtop of the overflow tube and hover about one inch above it. Too long? All you need to do is cut a bit of tubing off one end to get that custom fit.

Worn Gasket Troubleshooting

Gaskets are used for sealing many types of plumbing fixtures, and your toilet is no different. A gasket seals the space between the tank and bowl to help prevent water from leaking between them.

Thankfully, a worn gasket is fairly inexpensive to replace in Centereach. It does require some disassembly, so you may want a plumber’s help to get everything reinstalled as it should be.

Once you’ve made repairs, you can test to make sure that water is no longer running from your tank to your bowl outside of flushes. From here, your Centereach plumbers would like to introduce the food coloring test. To perform this test, raid your baking cupboard and squeeze a few drops of food coloring into the toilet tank. After a few hours have passed, take a peek at the toilet bowl. If there is the color inside of it, you still have a problem with your tank and should have a plumbing professional in Centereach check it out for you. If not, you’re good to go!

Preventing A Running Toilet in Centereach, NY

To keep your toilet in good working order, all it needs is a little maintenance from time to time. By doing regular maintenance and investing in preventative plumbing inspections, you can avoid having to deal with a running toilet—and the unexpected monthly bill that comes with it. Some of our top toilet maintenance tips are as follows:

  • Avoid flushing anything other than toilet paper down your toilet. Flushing any other products down your drain—yes, including those supposedly ‘flushable’ wipes, too—can lead to a sewer line clog in Centereach. When clogs occur, your sewer system can actually back up, leading to indoor wastewater plumbing that can pose a risk to your health and make a dent in your bank account.
  • Regularly check for wetness on your bathroom floor. Sometimes, water collects on your toilet bowl and floor due to condensation following a hot shower. If you notice wetness on your floor and no one has showered recently, this is cause for concern. Check your supply line that extends between your toilet wall to see if the leak is coming from there. Regardless of its source, you’ll want to call your local Centereach plumber.
  • Test the shut-off valve annually. In a plumbing emergency in Centereach, you'll need to shut off your water as quickly as possible to reduce costly damage. The worst time to discover you have a broken valve is when you need to use it. By identifying a faulty valve in advance of a plumbing emergency, you can get it replaced so it's ready when you need it.

Mr. Rooter Plumbing Can Diagnose and Repair Your Centereach Running Toilet For You!

Are you struggling to figure out what’s causing your Centereach running toilet, or are you due for a drain cleaning appointment? Our experienced team of plumbing experts at Mr. Rooter of Central Long Island is just a quick phone call away. We know that most plumbing problems occur out of nowhere and require immediate attention, which is why we offer emergency services 24/7. If you live in a part of Suffolk County or a nearby community, such as Ronkonkoma, Farmingdale, and Deer Park, we’re ready and able to help you with your emergency.

If your toilet keeps running, your toilet is running intermittently, or you have any other plumbing problem in Centereach, give us a call today, and one of our customer service team members will be happy to schedule you for an appointment at your earliest convenience.