Does your toilet flush all by itself? “Ghost flushing” and leaky toilets are pesky, but easy to fix problems.
The culprits behind both bathroom phenomena are the fill and flush valves, which happen to be the only moving parts inside a toilet. The flush valve sits at the bottom of the tank and opens to drain the water out of the tank to refill the bowl; the fill valve refills the tank once that happens.
Both can wear out from cleaning chemicals, sustained exposure to water, and the rigors of regular use, leading to leaks. Once the flush valve starts to leak, the bowl’s water level drifts down to the trigger point, and the fill valve jumps into action to make up the loss, leading to that mysterious flushing.
You can stop the leaks and the haunting with a few dollars and a quick trip to the hardware store for replacement valves, which are easy to install and pay for themselves over and over again in water savings.
Think your toilet is leaking? Drop some food coloring into the tank, then wait a couple of hours and check the bowl. If any of the food coloring shows up in the bowl, your flush valve is leaking and needs to be replaced. The job takes about 15 minutes and costs just a few bucks but can save thousands of gallons of otherwise wasted water.
- If the linkage between the flush handle and trip lever or metal tank lever is so corroded that it won’t move up and down freely, tighten the setscrew on the handle linkage or replace the flush handle/lever.
- Clogged flush passages under the bowl’s rim can restrict the flow of water during a flush; reach and clear away any obstructions using a piece of wire.
- Got a tank ball or flapper that closes before the tank empties? Adjust the chain length so that it has only the slightest amount of slack, or replace the tank ball or flapper.
Toilet problems such as leaks and phantom flushes pose annoyances that luckily are simple and inexpensive to resolve. And not only will you end the irritation, you’ll also stop a costly source of wasted water and money.