So, you are about to drift off to sleep when suddenly you notice the sound of the toilet in the background. If your American Standard toilet keeps running, it can drastically increase your water bill. Fortunately, the issue is relatively easy to fix.
What makes a toilet run, and how can you fix the issue? The answer is typically an error with one of the toilet’s smaller components, instead of the entire thing.
What Makes a Toilet Run?
A running toilet leaks water from the tank into the bowl all the time. Unfortunately, there are many reasons why this happens. Most of the causes are a result of little leaks or an internal piece not fitting correctly. These issues include a leaky flapper, an overly tall refill tube, and a poorly placed float height.
Depending on how handy you are with your toolset, you may be able to tackle these issues yourself. However, if you’re at all worried, it’s best to get a professional in to take a look and get things sorted for you.
Understand How Your Toilet Should Work
To recognize what is wrong with your toilet, you first need to know how a toilet actually works.
Each toilet is a little different. However, they all generally have the same components that work together. A leak or issue with these components can lead to your toilet running continuously.
- The lever you use to flush your toilet connects to a rubber flapper inside the base of the toilet tank.
- That flapper controls how much water goes into the bowl.
- Connected to the flapper is the overflow tube, which sets the correct water level.
- A pump inside the toilet tank refills the tank through the overflow tube.
- A float connected to the pump detects the water level and indicates when the pump should stop filling.
Different Issues That Can Need Repair
Because there are many, many causes for a running toilet, it can be a challenge to know which part is malfunctioning.
I always suggest that you start by looking at what would be the easiest fixes and work your way towards the most challenging issues. That way, you don’t do a bunch of extra work for no reason.
Just as a tip, if you need to empty the tank, you should remember to turn off the water connection to your toilet first.
The top screws on your toilet connect the tank to the bowl. If those screws are loose, it can lead to several problems, including the toilet water running. Check if the screws seem loose, and tighten them appropriately. However, you should also ensure that you do not over-tighten the screws.
The flapper itself or the flapper chain can get damaged and lead to running. Sometimes the chain becomes disconnected from the flush lever (see our guide on faulty flappers for more information). To fix this issue, you only need to reattach the chain and correct any problem that led to it falling off.
The chain may also be too tight or too loose. If it is too loose, you can trim the chain. However, if it’s too tight, you’ll need to find a replacement.
Over time, the flapper itself can become a problem. It may be dirty or warped. To clean the flapper, drain the tank, unhook the chain, and clean it. Follow these same steps for replacing the flapper.
When you buy a flapper, you’ll find some universal options. However, most American Standard toilets use a two-inch flapper, and some newer models use a three-inch flapper.
Test the flapper after you replace it to ensure that it seals. If the flapper does not seal, the flush valve, which attaches to the flapper, may need replacement.
The flush valve may be the culprit behind a leaking toilet. You may need to replace it if the overflow tube is too short.
Replacing the valve is a slightly more involved process. So, it may be best to hire a professional if you’re at all unsure of your handy skills.
If you decide to replace the valve yourself, follow these steps:
- Start by draining the tank, sop up any excess water with a towel, and connect the water supply to the tank using channel locks.
- Disconnect flapper and tank to bowl bolts.
- Lift the tank off of the bowl.
- Loosen the flush valve nut in the bowl gasket.
- Install a new flush valve and tighten the flush valve nut.
- Put the tank back, replace the tank screws, and reconnect the water supply.
- Flush the toilet to make sure everything is in place.
Since the float determines the water level inside the tank, it controls the power of the flush and if the toilet runs. Weak flushing can occur if the tank water level is too low. An overly high water level can cause your toilet to run.
Your toilet’s optimum water level should be marked on the back of the tank and the overflow tube. If there is no mark, aim for about an inch down on the overflow tube.
If the water is above or below that mark, adjust that float. Some toilets have one that connects to a brass rod. In that case, you will need to bend the rod.
Other toilets have an adjustable screw or slide. However, if you adjust it, you should make it lower to keep the toilet from running.
In some rare cases, the fill valve or tube that the float controls may break. You can tell it is damaged if it does not shut off properly. If this seems to be the problem, it’s most likely beyond repair. Instead, you will need to get a replacement.
Sometimes the refill valve is the issue because it is too long, and does not fill the overflow tube properly. If that is the case, you can simply trim the tube. The end of the tube should stop just above the overflow tube.
Lastly, your overflow tube may simply be too tall or short, causing your toilet to run. This tube is an issue that arises most often in recently installed or repaired toilets.
An overly short overflow tube leads to continuous water flow throughout the toilet. To correct this problem, you need to replace the flush valve.
What Is Unique About American Standard Toilets?
If you’re used to working on other brands of toilet, you don’t need to worry before mending an American Standard. Fortunately, most toilets are pretty similar in structure, so you’ll be good to go. However, American Standard does have a history of faulty flush valves. Read here for a full troubleshooting guide for standard dual flushing toilets.
American Standard is famous for its affordability and high-quality products, but that doesn’t mean that some of its parts don’t fail on occasion.
What Do You Need for Toilet Repair?
To fix an American Standard leaking toilet, you’ll need a few simple tools that you can probably find in your household’s toolbox.
- Towel or other materials for wiping up water
- Replacement materials such as valves, chains, and flappers
- Channel locks for advanced repairs
Next time your toilet won’t stop running, you’ll have the tools you need to fix it. After all, a leaky toilet can cause your water bill to spike beyond belief (for more information on disappearing water, read here).
I went a month with a toilet that ran continuously, thinking little of it. When I got my bill, I nearly fainted. It was nine times what I had paid previously. Don’t let my mistakes happen to you! Stop your toilet running immediately.