A Toilet That Won't Stop Running: Causes, Fixes, and Prevention Tips

3d render of toilet overflowing

A running toilet is a common plumbing issue that homeowners encounter. It is not only an annoying sound to hear, but it can also be costly due to the wasted water, which will eventually reflect on your monthly water bill. A malfunctioning toilet can be caused by several factors, but the most common one is a damaged component. These damages can lead to water leaks and impede the toilet's water flow, which could result in flooding and water damage. In this article, we will look at the causes, fixes, and prevention tips for a toilet that won't stop running.

Causes of a Running Toilet

Here are some of the most common causes of a running toilet:

Worn/Broken Flapper

A worn or broken flapper is the primary reason for a running toilet. The flapper, also known as the flush valve, is a plug that keeps water in the tank until you flush the toilet. Over time, flappers can deteriorate and allow water to seep into the bowl, resulting in a running toilet.

Wrong Chain Size

The chain that connects the flapper and the flush lever may be too long or too short. If the chain is too long, the flapper may become stuck underneath it, preventing it from effectively containing water inside the tank. If the chain is too short, the flapper won't be able to rest flush against the valve seat, leading to water leakage.

Cracked Toilet Bowl

Although toilets can last for over 50 years, they are not indestructible. Porcelain can weaken and crack over time, increasing the likelihood of leaks. A crack in the bowl or tank could cause water to leak directly onto the floor, causing damage to the subfloor, hardwood, carpet, or tile, resulting in large repair costs.

Fixes for a Running Toilet

Here are some simple fixes for a running toilet:

Adjust the Chain

If the chain is too long or too short, adjust it to the appropriate length. A chain that is too long can prevent the flapper from closing, while a chain that is too short can cause the flapper to stay open, resulting in water leakage.

Replace the Flapper

If the flapper is worn or broken, replace it. Flappers are inexpensive and can easily be replaced with a new one. Turn off the water supply to the toilet, flush to drain the tank, remove the old flapper, and install the new one according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Fix the Cracked Toilet Bowl

A cracked toilet bowl may require professional help. If the damage is minor, a plumber can patch it up. However, if the crack is significant, the entire toilet may need to be replaced.

Prevention Tips for a Running Toilet

Here are some prevention tips for a running toilet:

Regular Maintenance

Regularly inspect your toilet for any signs of wear and tear. If you notice any issues, address them promptly before they turn into major problems.

Be Careful What You Flush

Avoid flushing items that can clog the toilet, such as paper towels, wipes, feminine hygiene products, and cotton balls.

Check the Water Pressure

High water pressure can cause damage to the toilet's components, leading to leaks and a running toilet. Install a pressure regulator to ensure the water pressure is within the recommended range.

Hire a Professional Plumber

If you're not sure how to fix a running toilet or suspect a major leak or damage, it's best to call a professional plumber. They have the necessary knowledge and tools to fix the issue and prevent it from happening again.

Don't Let a Running Toilet Drain Your Wallet

Dealing with a running toilet can be frustrating, but it's important to address the issue as soon as possible to avoid wasting water and incurring costly water bills. By keeping an eye out for the common plumbing issues discussed in this article, such as a worn or broken flapper, a faulty chain, or a cracked toilet bowl, you can identify the source of the problem and take appropriate action. Remember, attempting DIY solutions can often make the problem worse, so it's best to contact a professional plumber if you suspect significant damage to your toilet or plumbing system.

Taking care of your toilet and plumbing system is crucial to maintaining the safety and functionality of your home. By staying informed about common plumbing problems and seeking professional assistance when needed, you can ensure that your plumbing system remains in good condition and that you don't waste water or money due to a running toilet.


How much water can a running toilet waste?

A running toilet can waste up to two trillion gallons of water per year, which is enough water to last for five years if every person on Earth had one bath every day.

Why is a running toilet a problem?

A running toilet is a problem because it wastes water, which can result in higher water bills and water shortages in some areas. It can also indicate damage to the toilet or plumbing system, which can lead to more severe issues if left unchecked.

Can a running toilet cause water damage?

Yes, a running toilet can cause water damage if the problem is due to a cracked toilet bowl or significant leaks in the plumbing system. Water damage can be costly to repair and may also pose health risks if left unaddressed.

Can I fix a running toilet myself?

Minor issues with a running toilet, such as a faulty chain, can be fixed by DIY solutions. However, if you suspect significant damage to the toilet or plumbing system, it's best to contact a professional plumber to avoid making the problem worse.

How often should I have my toilet and plumbing system inspected?

It's a good idea to have your toilet and plumbing system inspected annually by a professional plumber to catch any potential issues early on and prevent more significant problems from developing.

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