How to Fix a Running Toilet: Replacing the Toilet Fill Valve
An easy DIY fix that will save you time and money!
If your toilet is constantly running and water in the tank is going into the the overflow tube, then you need to replace the toilet fill valve. It’s a quick and easy fix (only takes about 15 minutes and no tools are needed!), and new fill valves are pretty cheap (approximately $10). Definitely no need to call a plumber, so roll up your sleeves and read on to learn how to replace the toilet fill valve!
Note: another common toilet leak is when water is intermittently or sporadically running (and not flowing into the overflow tube). In this case, the toilet flapper is the likely source of the leak. If this is the problem you’re having, then read my post on How to Replace the Toilet Flapper.
Step 1: Shut off water to the toilet
Locate the water shutoff valve – typically located behind and toward the bottom of the toilet. Turn the valve clockwise (until you can’t turn it anymore) to stop the flow of water to the toilet.
Step 2: Empty all of the water from the toilet tank
Replacing a toilet fill valve requires draining all of the water from the toilet tank. The best way to do this is to first flush the toilet, which will quickly empty most of the water from the tank. A little water will still be in the bottom of the tank after flushing, as shown in this picture:
You have several options to remove the remaining water that’s left in the toilet tank. You can use something absorbent – like a sponge or towel – to soak up the water. Or you can place a bucket underneath the toilet tank and let the water drain out of the tank and into the bucket when you disconnect the water supply line from the toilet tank (next step).
Since you will have to disconnect the water supply line from the toilet tank anyway when replacing a fill valve, that’s usually the route I go down.
Step 3: Disconnect the water supply line from the toilet fill valve
When a toilet tank fills with water, the water runs from a supply line directly into the fill valve inside the tank. So in order to replace the fill valve, you’ll first need to disconnect the water supply line from the toilet fill valve.
Looking underneath the toilet tank (white arrow in the picture below), you will find a water supply line (green arrow). The supply line is attached to the fill valve with a washer and nut (blue arrows).
Unscrew the nut and then the washer (turn counter-clockwise) until they are completely off of the fill valve. Note that you may need to use a pair of pliers if the nut and washer are very tight. Some water will likely drip out of the tank – you can catch it using a bucket or some towels placed underneath the toilet tank. The nut and washer will fall and can rest on or near the water shutoff valve:
After unscrewing the water supply line nut and washer from the bottom of the toilet tank, you will be able to see the connection from the water supply line to the toilet fill valve clearly:
Step 4: Remove the old toilet fill valve
The picture below shows the toilet fill valve (white arrow) inside a toilet tank. Since it has been disconnected from the water supply line, you can simply lift it out of the toilet tank. Note that there is a tube (called a refill hose) that attaches from the fill valve to the overflow pipe. A new fill valve will have another one of these refill hoses, but you don’t need to replace the existing one if you don’t want to.
Step 5: Install a new toilet fill valve
Fluidmaster is a leader in the plumbing world, and their parts are found in most toilets. Here is the new toilet fill valve that I will be using:
Place the new fill valve inside the toilet tank in the same location as the old fill valve. Then go underneath the toilet tank to where the water supply line washer and nut are. First tighten the washer by hand, like this:
Once the water supply line washer has been tightened, then proceed to tighten the water supply line nut. Finally, either reattach the existing refill hose to the fill valve and overflow pipe, or put in the new refill hose that came with the new refill valve.
Step 6: Turn on water to the toilet
With the new toilet fill valve installed, you’re almost done. You just need to turn the water back on and make sure the tank fills with water properly.
Return to the water shutoff valve and turn the valve counter-clockwise (until you can’t turn it anymore) to restore the flow of water to the toilet. After the tank has refilled with water, you might need to adjust the water level inside the toilet tank via an adjustment knob, screw, or clip on the fill valve.
Flush the toilet once or twice more to make sure the fill valve is working and that there are no leaks (if you see water leaking, you need to tighten the water supply line washer and nut some more).
If everything is working, replace the toilet tank lid and you’re all done!
Did you find this guide useful? Let me know in the comments below!
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