Help! Why Won’t The Toilet Stop Running?

It's a whoosh. It's a gurgle. It's a sanity depriving sound emitting from your bathroom with a phantom-like echo. The toilet is running, and it won't stop. Why?

The commode looks like a simple enough seat, but there's a whole school of engineering behind it called plumbing. There are professionals called plumbers that apprentice for four to five years and complete a minimum of 246 hours of technical instruction every year. The throne never sounded so daunting. But the reason it's running can be surprisingly easy to troubleshoot and fix.

The Flapper Value and Pull Chain

If your toilet seems to be constantly running, it's a good bet the flapper needs attention. It creates a seal inside the tank. When it doesn't seal properly, the water level rises and the toilet runs.

An improper seal can be the result of a faulty flapper, a mineral deposit around the valve seat, or an object blocking the seal. It can even be the result of issues with the pull chain attached to the flapper valve. If none of these appear to be the issue, replace it completely to either fix the leak or eliminate the flapper valve as the cause.

When Fidgeting Fixes the Issue

Does the toilet stop running, at least temporarily, after fidgeting with the handle post-flush? If yes, there's probably a problem between the handle and the tank ball. This is often referred to as a sticky flush valve.

You can remedy the issue by adjusting the chain connecting the flush handle to the flapper. If the chain is too short, lengthening it is the key. If the chain is too long, shortening it is the right move. You'll be able to diagnose which way to go upon close inspection.

If adjusting the chain doesn't stop the need to fidget with the handle, try cleaning the inlet holes in the bowl. They can cause the toilet to run if a buildup is present.

Signs of a Leak

A running toilet can indicate a leak. When water doesn't make it to the toilet or escapes pre-flush, it can start to run continuously or randomly. Leaks can form in four major places:

  1. Where the valve attaches to the main water supply.
  2. Where the supply line meets the water shut off valve.
  3. Where the valve stem seal is located on the water shut off valve.
  4. Where the supply line attaches to the fill valve.

If you suspect a leak but cannot pinpoint it, it's time to call a plumber. Let the pros put their schooling to good, cost effective use. To learn more, visit a website like