SKILLS – How To Stop A Running Toilet

This year, over Thanksgiving break I found myself staying up in northern Virginia at my In-Laws house. It is a huge three story house within a subdivision with proximity to any shop or restaurant you can imagine. This closeness is in contrast to where we live which has a 40-minute drive to the closest Walmart or Starbucks. Our In-Laws put us in the basement, which sounds bad as I typed it but was nice. We had a queen sized bed, TV, and our own bathroom.

After a few visits to the restroom, however, I began noticing that after being flushed, the toilet would run without ceasing. So while, everyone was upstairs talking, eating, and playing with the kids, I was in the basement with the lid of the toilet off fishing in the tank with my hands to find the issue. To my In-Laws credit, they do not use the basement often, so probably never noticed the problem, but I figured “Hey – this could be an easy fix, and fixing it might just be my holiday gift to them!” That is the weird way my mind works.

So, I am fishing around and find the problem almost immediately: The chain from the flush handle was adjusted too long, and when the toilet flushed, part of the chain was getting sucked under the flapper valve which held it open, thus making it run.

So I thought to fix the issue of a “constantly running” toilet would be an excellent skill for others to learn.


There is usually a metal hook connected to the flush handle, and you should be able to shorten the chain by finding the correct link in the chain to thread it through. Correcting this problem may take a couple of tries, just be careful not to leave the chain too short, so it holds the flapper valve open defeating the purpose of the fix.

If this is the case, you may experience what plumbers call “phantom flushes,” where the water slowly leaks and when it goes down to a certain level, the floating mechanism causes the toilet to flush on its own. It is not a ghost; it is just a slow leak. This problem would mean it is time to replace the flapper valve or the entire assembly. Changing the flapper valve is easy, a new flapper valve will usually snap right into place. Changing the whole assembly is not hard either, it just involves shutting off the water to the toilet at the wall and flushing the toilet once to drain the water, then just follow the directions on the assembly.

Once you have fixed the issue, be sure to wash your hands before you head back upstairs to assist in serving Thanksgiving dinner, you will not want to be asking yourself this critical question later while your laying in bed.

“So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” – Galations 6:10