How do I stop my toilet from “running”?

Posted on August 27, 2015

apartment rental house toilet running

Is your rental house or apartment toilet running all the time? That’s a waste of water! Here’s what to do….with videos too!

Water seems to be continuously trickling through the toilet? Try a few of the things below, and if you can’t get it to stop, turn it off and report it to the Elkins Apartments office immediately: a running toilet can cost you lots of money on your water bill! Keep it turned off when not in use until you are sure the problem has been fixed.

You turn off a toilet with the little twist valve on the line running from the wall or floor to the toilet. Just like an outside faucet, turn it all the way until it stops.

If you want to try to get your toilet to stop running, and maybe save a few bucks in the process, then read on! Otherwise, we are happy to send someone out to help you. Just let us know.

You want your electronics to keep going and going, like the energizer bunny, but you probably don’t want your toilet flowing and flowing. What’s a person to do?

Flapper, Overflow or Leak? It (almost) HAS to be one of them:

  • the flapper isn’t sealing the drain

  • the water that fills the toilet isn’t being shut off

  • there’s a leak in the base or tank (least likely, but biggest deal!)

Keep these in mind when troubleshooting. There’s not much else that can be going on. Check out this video from Home Depot. It covers most of the things I check when I have issues with my own toilet and will go a long way toward stopping any water running in your Elkins Apartments’ rental home or apartment.

Tank/Base Leak?

This is actually the least likely of the 3 causes of running toilets but if it is the cause (or if you see water around the base of the toilet any time, especially right after flushing, TURN THE WATER OFF.

Use the tests in the Home Depot video below to check for a tank or base leak. Again, not the most likely cause, so focus first on the flapper and flow valve.

If you determine there is a leak in the base or tank, turn off the water and don’t use it or you might just cause damage to your floor, cause damage rooms below the unit, or cause mold or mildew to grow (even more than it already does in good ol’ Indiana, and other bad things). This is not an emergency: just turn it off and report it immediately through the portal.

Running Toilets 101: Jiggle the handle.

Seriously. If it hasn’t happened many times before, sometimes just jiggling the ol’ flusher handle will make it stop. This is because the handle is connected to the stopper and the stopper may not have fully sealed on the drain inside the tank. No seal = water going down the drain. Jiggle = re-seal the stopper. Ta dah?!

Note, this likely isn’t a long term fix. So keep an eye (ear!) out for the sounds of your toilet running, and move on to the next things on this list. If jiggling worked, and it comes back, its likely the flapper and not the overflow, but you won’t know until you open the toilet up!

Running Toilets 201: Stopper/Flapper not Sealing

Life the tank lid.

Be careful, dropping it will break it. Set the lid carefully on a towel or non-scratchable surface (the bottom of the lid can scratch things).

Check the chain — Does the stopper even seem to try to close?

Chain disconnected?

Is everything connected? Does the handle lift the chain, and does the chain lift the flapper? If not, reconnect it!

Chain too long?

Look inside. Is the chain by chance caught under the flapper (at the bottom)? If so, the chain is too long, just shorten it by changing where the chain connects to the handle. Don’t trim it! If you make it too short, it won’t let the stopper close at all, and you’ll have to replace the chain! Just connect the chain with some slack at the handle end.

Replace the Stopper

The stoppers all connected up but water still seems to be getting past it? Try replacing it.

Running Toilets 301: Checking the overflow

So, the flapper seems to seal but you keep hearing water? Look to see if water is going over the top of a little pipe (called an overflow) in the tank.

The water has to be told to stop. If it is told to stop at a level that is too high, it will overflow into a pipe in the unit and that water will go, well, right down the drain.

Check out the Home Depot video above for an example of this situation with a newer float valve and the Home Repair Tutor video below for an example with an older style bulb float valve.

You simply have to adjust the screw on the float valve to lower the level to which the water fills.

More on diagnosing and fixing common toilet leak causes

Good description of quick and easy things to fix. Focused on things to check and parts you might be able to replace yourself for a lot less than a service call might cost. Jumps to replacing things a bit quickly, but a great start-to-finish look at the pieces that might be at fault with a leaking toilet.

Nice introductory materials on the parts of the toilet and the reasons it might leak. The first video jumps to advanced fixes a lot quicker, stuff you probably don’t want to try, and shouldn’t, but this one has a bit more about the “why” of the toilet leaks at your rental house or apartment. Bonus: a bit of discussion of leaks from the toilet to the ground. BUT please notify Elkins Apartments about the last one immediately. You can easily crack the tank trying to tighten the bolts on a tank.

AND, what if the toilet is not running, but water is leaking through the ceiling?

The Old House discusses this… but.. you should just turn the water off and submit a work order if its leaking out but you don’t see any water! Otherwise even worse things will happen. Clean up and wait. 🙂

Again, when in doubt, turn it off, and report it

If you aren’t sure, or just don’t want to deal it it, turn the water off, report it, and we will have someone fix your toilet for you. In most cases, the charge for having maintenance address it will be a lot less than having a third-party plumber handle it, and will likely save you time if you are not comfortable trying to do things yourself.

Please help the environment, and your wallet!

If you report an issue with excessive water use, such as a toilet leaking, you remain responsible for all associated water charges regardless of any delays in correcting the reported problem. Just turn it off if you think it is running. 

Just like anyone else who lives on their own, its your place, and you play a role in minimizing loss while awaiting service personnel. Submit a maintenance request through your portal.

Let us know what you need and how we can help!