What Causes My Toilet Bowl to Run Continuously?

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Your bathroom's toilet contains a fill valve, flapper, float and a number of other components that all work together when you activate the toilet's handle. When one or more of the components fail, your toilet doesn't work properly including not flushing completely, overflowing and running continuously. When a toilet runs continuously, it is wasting water and putting a strain on the gaskets and other parts in the toilet.

Ball Cock Fill Valve

  • If your toilet is running continuously with only a small amount of water filling the bowl, your toilet's ball cock is failing or contains mineral deposits. The ball cock is a fill valve that uses a float attached on a metal arm to shut off the valve inside of your toilet when the water in the tank has reached a set level. Replace or clean the ball cock as well as the flapper to stop your toilet from trying to fill the tank continuously.

Loose Chain

  • Another cause of your toilet running continuously, especially if a large amount of water is flowing into the bowl, is a loose chain on the rubber flapper covering your toilet's bottom valve. The chain should be tight so when the handle is released, the flapper closes quickly after the water in the tank has reached a certain level. Use a pair of pliers to tighten the chain or use wire cutters to shorten it.

Deteriorating Flapper

  • A deteriorating flapper--misshaped, missing one side or containing holes--will also cause your toilet bowl to run continuously. Your toilet is losing water through the bottom valve and it is constantly trying to keep the tank at a certain level. Replace the flapper with a new one.

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  • Photo Credit toy toilet image by Wayne Abraham from Fotolia.com
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