FIXING A LEAKY OR RUN-ON TOILET
A toilet is a pretty efficient appliance. Just push the lever and almost magically in a few seconds the toilet dispatches its contents with just a gurgle. Most toilets can get this job done with two or three gallons of water; newer models use only a gallon and a half. A leaking toilet, however, can waste hundreds or gallons of water a week. If each flush does not end with a gurgle, but instead continues with a hissing sound, with water running into the toilet bowl, you have a run-on toilet this is a plumbing problem that you can fix yourself. The mechanism inside the toilet bowl may seem complicated, but it really isn’t. The first thing you have to do is get up the courage to take the top off the toilet tank and familiarize yourself with the major parts. Of course, as they do with almost every plumbing fixture, someone is always coming up with a better design. So, over time, many different types of valves and flushing mechanisms have developed, but they all accomplish the same tasks. Here is a rundown of what happens when you push that flush lever.
1. The flush handle lifts a round rubber tank ball (or a rubber flapper) that’s located in the base of the toilet tank.
When the tank ball or flapper lifts, it opens the water passage between the tank and toilet bowl. As soon as this device lifts, water drains into the toilet.
2. As the tank empties, the large ball, called a float ball, attached to the end of a long rod, falls with the water level in the tank.
Some designs have a float ball that surrounds the intake valve, which is sometimes called a ballcock
3. At the other end of the float ball rod is the ballcock, which opens as the float ball moves down.
Water begins to flow into the tank as the ballcock opens.
4. When the tank is almost empty, the tank ball or flapper falls into the outlet, stopping the flow of water out of the tank.
5. When the drain is closed, the tank begins to fill.
The ballcock also directs some water into an overflow tube that drains into the toilet bowl to assure that the bowl fill with water.
6. As the tank fills, the float ball rises with the water level until it gets to a predetermined position and closes the ballcock, stopping the inflow of water.
The toilet is now ready for another flush and as long as nothing is leaking, no more water is used until the flush lever is pushed. A run-on toilet is usually caused by a problem with the tank ball, the ballcock or intake valve, or the float ball. To find the source of the trouble, remove the toilet tank top and place it in a safe location. Then push the flush lever and watch what happens. Don’t worry about the water in the toilet tank. It’s clean.