The Dreaded Drip: Do you have a toilet that just seems to drip and drip and drip? This is one of the most common problems that home-owners run into especially in older homes. Let’s take a look at how we would solve this problem in most cases.
The Scenario: You flush the toilet, and after you hear the water running normally as the toilet refills with water. Once the tank has filled, all seems to be well. Then a few minutes later, the toilet begins to unexpectedly run. You hear water entering the toilet for a few minutes and then it once again stops. This cycle repeats at various time intervals separated by anywhere from a few minutes to hours. If this sounds like your problem keep reading and I will do my best to explain what is causing this and the easiest way to repair the problem.
This problem is usually caused by a faulty fill valve. The seal on the fill valve may have deteriorated due to the use of toilet cleaning tablets that are placed in the back water tank. These chlorine additives can cause the fill valve to corrode over time. In general there is a flexible(often plastic) tube that runs from the fill valve of the toilet overflow. When water enters the tank, water is also sent through this tube. This water goes to fill the toilet bowl after it has lost its water from being flushed. If the tube that your toilet uses is too long or it is not attached to the overflow tube properly it can siphon water from the tank.
This causes the water level in the tank to subsequently drop and once the float falls too far, the toilet will try to refill the tank and will run. So now that you know what the problem could be, how do we go about fixing it? Well in this situation there is actually an easy fix. If the tube is not connected to the overflow tube, simply connect the tube using a utility clip and make sure that it is short enough so that there is no tubing that could interfere with the fill valve. If you observe that the tube looks too long, just disconnect it, cut a few inches off with a pair of standard scissors and then re-connect and clip.
This should solve the problem. If it doesn’t you will likely need to replace the fill valve which is of course a little more work but certainly do-able. Head to your local home-owner and pick up a new fill valve which will come with installation instructions. Take the time to seek out the employee working in the plumbing section and ask them to give you a hand selecting the best fill valve for your toilet type. Good luck!