Home » Here’s Why Your Toilet Runs Randomly and What to Do to Fix It

Here’s Why Your Toilet Runs Randomly and What to Do to Fix It

As a journeyman plumber and the owner of Sacramento Plumbing Solutions, I’ve seen my fair share of plumbing issues.

One of the most common problems homeowners face is a toilet that runs randomly. It’s annoying and can increase your water bill significantly, and it’s a sign that something’s wrong.

I will try to help you understand the common causes of a toilet that runs randomly and offer suggestions about how to fix it so your toilet runs smoothly and efficiently.

While fixing a randomly running toilet on your own is possible, it’s always best to call a professional. So, when in doubt, don’t hesitate to call your plumber. Your toilet and your water bill will thank you.

Why Your Toilets Run Randomly

First, look at why your toilet might run at odd times. Many homeowners ignore a toilet that runs randomly and write it off as a minor annoyance, but it’s actually a sign of an underlying issue that could lead to much bigger problems. Here are some reasons why it might be happening

The flapper in your toilet tank can become warped or damaged over time, which leads to a poor seal that triggers the fill valve, causing water to flow constantly.

The fill valve refills the tank after a flush, which can malfunction. Sediment build-up, a misaligned float, or regular wear and tear can cause this. A faulty fill valve can cause the tank to either overfill or underfill, leading to running water, potential flooding, and water damage.

A damaged or improperly adjusted float ball can also cause problems in older toilets. If it’s set too high, your tank can overfill, causing water to run as it flows into the overflow tube.

If the chain connecting the flush lever to the flapper is the wrong length, it can also cause water to run randomly. If it’s too short, it can prevent the flapper from sealing correctly after a flush. It can get caught under the flapper and cause a leak if it’s too long.

Apart from the flapper, other parts of the tank can wear out and cause leaks. The gaskets between the tank and the bowl or the bolts that hold them together can deteriorate over time, leading to a running toilet.

Toilets in areas with hard water can form sediment and mineral deposits that accumulate in the tank’s components, causing them to malfunction.

How to Fix a Randomly Running Toilet

If you go the DIY route, I recommend you start by doing a dye test to figure out if the issue is with the flapper or another part of the toilet.

Place a few drops of food coloring in the tank and wait about an hour without flushing. If the color appears in the bowl, you’ve got a leak.

While many of these fixes can be DIY, sometimes the problem might be more complex, like issues with the plumbing system itself. If you try the following solutions and your toilet still runs randomly, it might be time to call a professional plumber.

First, check the flapper. Turn off the water supply and drain the tank. If the flapper is warped or damaged, replace it with the correct size and type for your toilet.

If the fill valve is faulty, it may need adjustment or replacement. You can adjust the fill valve by twisting the adjustment screw or sliding the clip along the rod. If these adjustments don’t work, it might be time to replace the valve.

For toilets with a float ball, ensure it’s not waterlogged and sitting too high. Adjust the arm connecting the float ball to the fill valve to change the water level.

Adjust the chain length so that it allows the flapper to seal properly but doesn’t get caught under it. There should be a slight slack when the flapper is closed.

Check the seals between the tank, the bowl, and the bolts. If they leak, turn off the water, drain the tank, and replace the seals or bolts as necessary.

If you have hard water, sediment build-up can be a frequent issue. Clean the tank and its components regularly to prevent build-up.

Preventative Maintenance Tips

Regular maintenance is key to avoiding problems like randomly running toilets. I recommend cleaning your toilet’s internal mechanisms at least twice a year. Check for any signs of wear and tear and replace parts as necessary.

Regular cleaning can prevent sediment and mineral build-up. Avoid using harsh chemical cleaners in your tank that can shorten the lifespan of the components.

Be aware of any changes in your toilet’s performance and adjust as needed. Sometimes, a simple tweak can prevent more significant issues.

If you’re uncomfortable doing these repairs, don’t hesitate to call a professional. It’s better to get it fixed correctly than to risk further damage.

Call Us if Your Toilet is Running Randomly

When your toilet runs randomly, it’s more than just an annoyance. It can lead to increased water bills and potential water damage. You can keep your toilet running smoothly by understanding the common causes and how to fix them. Regular maintenance and timely repairs are crucial to preventing these issues. If you’re ever in doubt, remember that professional plumbers are just a call away and if you live in the Sacramento area, contact Sacramento Plumbing Solutions.

Mike Grijalva

Mike Grijalva

Owner & Lead Plumber

I’ve been a journeyman plumber for over 15 years and opened my own plumbing company in 2011. I’m highly qualified and offer the best prices in the Sacramento area. I’ve done plumbing in every aspect possible, inlcluding new construction, service and repair, commercial, sprinkler service, and custom homes. I take great pride in my work.  You can feel comfortable trusting someone highly skilled with integrity for all your plumbing needs.

CSLB License #963048

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