Next on the project list: Fix Toilet

At some point, fix toilet is going to end up on your honey do list.

Here are some common signs that could indicate you need to look at putting - fix toilet - on the honey do list:
1) The water keeps running after you flush
2) Your toilet 'turns on' for no reason
3) Your toilet keeps running and you've just replaced the flapper valve

The problem usually is in the tank and can be fixed rather quickly - and very cheaply as well (we always like the cheap fixes).

On this page, I'll cover the main reason that a toilet keeps running as well as the most common (and cheapest) ways to fix it.

Before we jump too far into talking about flappers and chains and floats and thing that sound like a clash between dance clubs of the 20's and the 80's, lets go through the basics of your toilet.

Your toilet has two main parts, the bowl (what we sit on) and the tank (what holds the water that flushes as well as all of the mechanical pieces). The problems with a dripping or a leaking toilet usually occur in the tank.

Inside the tank are a few main pieces (aka. mechanics):

Your handle - we use this to flush the toilet. The handle is attached to a small chain that is attached to the flapper valve at the bottom of the tank.

flapper Valve - this is a rubber seal that hold the water in the tank (usually about the size of the bottom of a coffee cup). When you push down on the handle, the chain that is attached pulls up the flapper valve and lets all of the water in the tank flow into the toilet.

You also have a 'water valve' in the tank - this lets water into your tank from you water line

and you'll also have a 'float' in the tank - this is what triggers the valve to bring in more water or shut off the water once the tank has reached a certain level.

Now that we have the basics of a toilet, let's tackle the most common - fix toilet - problems.

Make sure you have the right tools:

Fix Toilet Problem #1:
Your toilet doesn't stop running after you flush it.

Step 1: Go and catch it. (ok, bad joke:) Couldn't help myself.)

If your toilet keeps running (aka. filling) after your flush, chances are, you have a problem with your flapper valve.

The most likely cause of this - fix toilet - project is the chain that connects to your flapper valve has gotten caught. The chain has worked its way under a part of the flapper valve and isn't allowing it to 'seal' properly.

The best easiest way to fix this home repair project is to 'jiggle' the handle.

Surprised? So, you wanted some really in-depth description and understanding on how to fix it? The easiest way to fix it is to 'jiggle' it. No I'm not 'yankin' your chain'.

If this problem continues to come around, then of course, you'll need to take more action.

If this is the case, the next step you will do is to adjust your chain length.

Step 1: Remove the tank lid and find your chain

Step 2: see if you can make the chain tighter by adjusting it.

Step 3: remove any excess chain

That's all. Now you have effectively tightened up your chain. This should take care of any of the 'running'.

Congratulations! You just completed that - fix toilet - project.

Fix Toilet Problem #2:
Your toilet 'turns on' for no reason.

As you know by now, there is always a reason. The most common cause of this - fix toilet - project is chlorine in your water.

Ok, I'm getting a little into chemistry (Dr. McGahan, my high school chemistry teacher, would be so proud). Chlorine is something that your water company puts into the water to help filter the water and keep it clean.

Over time, this choline, even though there is a very minute amount of it in the water, has a tendency to 'eat away' at rubber things like your flapper valves - making them hard and not as flexible.

When rubber get's hard, it tends to shrink. This shrinking is in turn allowing little bits of water to flow from the tank on a constant basis.

Over a period of an hour or 2 or 3, the water level in the back of the tank will become low enough to where the 'float' will notice the lower water level and open up the valve that lets in more water.

Hence, you end up with short periods of time where your toilet will run for no reason.

The fix is very simple. For just a few bucks you can go to the hardware store and purchase a new flapper valve. They have universal ones so don't worry too much if the color isn't exactly the same.

Step 1: Turn off the water to your toilet. below your tank, you have a valve that connects to your toilet. It is either coming out of the floor or coming out of the wall. Turn the knob to the right (righty tighty).

Step 2: Flush your toiletYou want to remove as much water as possible. This will make the job a little easier. The toilet shoud not turn on because you turned off the water.

Step 3: Install the new flapper valve.Take out the old and put in the new.

'BAM!' all done. Congratulations! You just completed this - fix toilet - project.

Fix Toilet Problem #3:
Your toilet keeps running and you just replaced the flapper valve.

If your tank keeps running and you just replaced the flapper valve, the most likely cause of this - fix toilet- project is a problem with your toilets 'Float'. The float is a piece of plastic that connects to your valve and allows your valve to open.

There are two types of float/valve combinations. Both work in the same way even though they look different.

One model has the valve sticking straight up on like a pole with a long metal arm attached to it and at the end of the metal arm is a ball. This ball is the float.

The other model is more compact and has the same valve sticking straight up like a pole and around the pole is a plastic 'bubble' that moves up and down. This plastic 'bubble' is the float.

When the water level goes down, the float goes down as well and opens up the valve that turns on the water. Over time, the water can rust the metal pieces to corrode or it can hinder the plastic so they don't operate as freely anymore. When the float gets stuck in a down position, the water will continue to flow into the tank until it overflows.

**toilets do have a safety mechanism to help you with this - there is an open piece of plastic tubing that comes directly up from the flapper valve. When the water level gets too high, the excess water will overflow into the tube and into the toilet bowl itself.**

Either way, you'll need to replace the entire float/valve mechanism.

Here's what you'll need to do:

Step 1: Drain the Tank.Turn off the water and flush the tank. This will get most of the water out of the tank. however, there will still be some water left in the bottom of the tank. Take a sponge and soak it out. It is important that you get the tank as dry as you can.

Step 2: Remove the old float/valve.Unhook your water from the tank. Next, unscrew the nut that is under the tank. This will allow you to take out the entire float/valve unit.

Step 3: Install the new float/valve unit and turn the water back on.Simply take step 2 in reverse. Install the new float/valve mechanism and reattach the water line. When you turn the water line back on, you will be able to easily check for leaks. If water is spraying, then shut off the water valve and tighten where necessary.

**Jeff's helpful hints. The tank is a porcelain material and if you over tighten a nut, it could crack/break. You don't want this to happen so be gentle while tightening the float/valve mechanism.**

When you have no leaks, let the tank fill completely and you are done.

Congratulations! You've just completed this - fix toilet - project.

**Jeff's Eco friendly tip: Help save water by filling up a plastic jug with water and setting it in your tank. This will reduce the amount of water that flows out of your tank when you flush and will save on your water bill.**

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