Why Your Toilet is Constantly Running and How You Can Stop It

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If your toilet is constantly running, it may be because the float is too high, the flapper can’t seal correctly, or the overflow tube is too short or misplaced. 
That ever-frustrating and water bill-raising sound from continuously running water inside your toilet can come from a few different sources. But if the cause of your toilet constantly running is one of three issues, luckily, a DIY fix is pretty beginner friendly. 
Here to fill you in on potential problems with your toilet tank and how to fix them is your home maintenance pal and super app for car and homeowners insurance, Jerry. We’ll detail the three most likely causes of a constantly running toilet, what you can do to remedy them, and pro tips for your DIY fix. 
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How toilets actually work

Before getting into the parts of your toilet that may be malfunctioning, it will be helpful to know the basic mechanics of how a toilet works
A fill valve draws water into the toilet tank, and a flapper stops the drawn-in water from flowing out into the toilet bowl. The water from the fill valve fills the tank and raises a float rod until it reaches the appropriate water level height. 
An overflow tube takes in water that may reach above that set height so that your toilet doesn’t—you guessed it—overflow. 
Once the tank is filled, you can flush the toilet by pressing the flush lever or button down. The flush lever is connected to a chain, and the chain is connected to the flapper. Pressing down on the lever tugs up the chain and causes the flapper to open, allowing the water in the tank to flush into the bowl. 
The tank will empty itself of all water and then allow the flapper to close and the fill valve to draw in more water so it’s prepped for its next flush. And that’s how the magic happens. 

Reasons why your toilet may be constantly running 

If you notice your toilet constantly running, it likely means that one of the processes above is not happening as it should. So, it’s a good idea to try to decipher which part is not doing its job
A good way to rule out a flapper issue is to put a couple of drops of food coloring dye into your toilet tank. If the dye starts leaking into the toilet bowl, your flapper is not sealed correctly, and is probably the issue here. If not, you’re looking at another problem. 

A problem with the flapper 

So you did the dye trick and lo’ and behold, you now have a colorful toilet bowl. A flapper that won’t seal correctly is one of the most common causes in the book of a toilet constantly running, and thankfully, it’s not super difficult to fix. 
First, you’ll want to check that the chain attached to the flapper is at a length where there is just a little bit of slack. Too loose of a chain and it may fall between the flapper and the flush hole it covers, preventing a good seal. A long chain may also prevent the flush lever from opening the flapper enough to properly flush the toilet. 
Too tight of a chain and the flapper won’t be able to cover the hole at all. Adjust the chain so that there is roughly one inch of slack and then cut the chain to size. If the chain and flapper are positioned appropriately and you’re still having a problem, the issue may be with the flapper part itself. 
A dirty or old flapper won’t be able to create a strong enough seal, so you’ll have to clean or replace the flapper in this case. 
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A problem with the overflow tube 

If the dye trick proves that the constantly running water is not reaching the toilet bowl, the issue lies with the toilet tank. Check the overflow tube system—the water level should be under the overflow tube opening.
If it’s not, you may need to adjust the water level so water doesn’t continuously run out through the overflow tube and the fill valve doesn’t have to continuously bring in more water to compensate. 
You can lower the water level by lowering the float rod. Locate the screw or clip that is on the float rod and is used to change its height. Turn the screw or adjust the clip until the float rod sits at the appropriate water level which may be marked on the back of the tank. It should be about one inch down the overflow tube. 

A problem with the fill valve 

Okay, so you’ve tried the flapper and the overflow tube, and you’re still hearing that maddening water sound. When everything else is in working order and the water level and float rod are at the correct height, you’re likely working with a problematic fill valve that needs replacing. 
This, unfortunately, is one of the more laborious fixes for a constantly running toilet since you have to turn off the toilet’s water supply and drain the tank so you can replace the old fill valve with a new one. You may wish to consult a certified plumber before you start out so you can be sure that this is actually the issue and that you’re not draining your toilet for nothing. 
If it’s determined that the problem lies with a bad fill valve and you need to replace it, be sure your new one is compatible with your specific toilet tank. If you can, take the old fill valve with you to the hardware store so you can get the same kind. 

Does home insurance cover toilets and other plumbing issues? 

Here’s the big question—if something happens with your plumbing, will your home insurance cover the damages? The answer depends on how the damages occurred
Your plumbing issues are only covered if they are a result of one of the named perils of home insurance. If your pipes froze and then burst, you’re likely to be covered. However, plumbing issues from normal wear and tear won’t be covered under most policies. 

Finding affordable home insurance 

Dealing with toilet or other plumbing repairs can get expensive, even if you use your home insurance. Start saving up for emergency maintenance today with the savings you can find through the Jerry app! 
Jerry is a super app and insurance expert designed to make shopping for home insurance as easy as possible and within your budget. Download the app, answer a few questions, and Jerry will take care of the rest—finding you the perfect policy at the right price.
“Amazing service! Jerry helped me get insurance for the first time. Everything went smoothly without a hitch. I couldn’t ask for more!” —Tasha F. 
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FAQ

There are a few common issues that could cause your toilet to run constantly. The flapper may be worn out or unable to create a proper seal, the overflow tube may too short or the water level may be too high which would cause water to run out through the overflow tube constantly, or the fill valve may be faulty and need replacing.

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