Toilet (Old-Style) Runs

Problem: Mechanisms inside toilet tank allow water to continue to run after toilet is flushed.

Background: To diagnose toilet problems, first lift off the tank cover and watch the mechanisms in action when the toilet is flushed. Next turn off the water supply to the toilet and empty the tank of excess water. Specific repairs will depend on the age and style of the mechanisms inside the toilet. Both older and newer styles have a mechanism to actuate an inlet valve that lets water into the tank, and a mechanism attached to the trip lever that allows water to flow out of the tank. The following tips apply to the old-style components (see
Toilet (New-Style) Runs for trouble shooting toilets with new-style mechanisms for flushing problems).

What to do: On the inlet side, the old-style ball cock mechanism has a valve that opens and closes by a rod that connects to a float ball. As the ball rises in the tank it shuts off in coming water. On the outlet side, older toilets often have a ball-type device which fits into the seat at the bottom of the tank and holds water until the toilet is flushed. This ball is known as a stopper ball, tank ball, or flapper.
   If the tank does not refill, first check to see that the stopper ball is in good condition and is seated properly. Adjust its chain or its guide arm, lift wires and the trip lever so that the ball falls straight onto the seat. Scrape away any corrosion from valve seat. If this fails, the easiest way to correct the problem is to replace the stopper ball and valve seat with a new-style rubber flapper assembly.
   If the stopper ball works, check the float ball and rod assembly next. Make sure the float ball does not touch the tank wall. The float ball may not rise high enough to shut off the inlet valve; if so, check for a leaking float ball, which will prevent it from rising high enough to shut off the water. If the ball leaks, it is easily replaced; just unscrew it from the end of the rod.
   If the float ball is set too high, however, it may allow water to flow over and into the overflow tube. In this case, bend the float arm down until it is 1 inch below the top of the tube; this will lower the water level. If the float ball is set right, but water continues to flow, the inlet valve in the ball cock assembly is most likely defective. You can replace the valve washer, the entire inlet valve, or the entire ball cock assembly.

Special advice: In some cases, a running toilet can be caused by a refill tube end that is down too far in the overflow tube, with its end below the water level. The refill tube then becomes a siphon, draining water out of the tank. To correct, reposition the tube so there is space between the end and the water level. Also, when troubleshooting with a running toilet, carefully examine the base of the overflow tube. Corrosion can create holes that allow water to drain continually from the tank.

Helpful hint: Low-cost toilet tank repair kits are readily available for both old- and new-style components. Depending on the problem, instead of replacing major parts of an older system, installing new-style components may be the best bet for long- lasting, trouble-free performance.




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