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Repairing toilets

Find your toilet leak

If you have taken a leaky toilet test and discovered that you have a leak, here are some simple repair directions you may consider.*

First determine where the toilet is leaking by looking at the water line.

  1. If the water level is below the overflow tube (A), your flapper may be the culprit. Follow step one below.
  2. If water is spilling into the overflow tube (A), your water level may be too high. Follow step two below

Please note: Close the water shut off valve to your toilet before making any repairs.


Step One: Is your flapper (C) leaking?

Inexpensive and easy to replace, the toilet flapper is the number one culprit for most leaky toilets. Flappers should be replaced every two to five years. How do you know if yours is ready to be replaced? Simply rub the bottom of the flapper with your finger. If you get streaks of rubber, it's ready to be replaced.

Take your old flapper with you when purchasing a replacement so you get the right fit. Knowing your toilet's brand or model number may help.

To replace your flapper:

  1. Shut off water at the valve
  2. Flush the water that is in the tank and note the length of the flapper chain (E) as it is attached to the handle (this will save you time when you install the new flapper)
  3. Remove the old flapper, install the new flapper into the toilet and adjust the chain as it was before you took the old flapper off
  4. Turn on the water and test
  5. Check for leaks again to ensure that you bought the proper replacement flapper

Does your toilet keep running unless you jiggle the handle (G)?

The chain (E) that controls the flapper might need to be adjusted for the flapper to sit properly on the valve seat (D). To fix the chain, first clean it and make sure that it isn't too long or too short. If the chain is kinked, it should be replaced with a ball-type chain. If needed, tighten the nut that holds the toilet handle (G) to adjust the trip lever (F) properly. If this does not work, the handle may need to be replaced.

Is your toilet still running?

The toilet may keep running because the valve seat (D) is corroded or covered with mineral deposits. Check the valve seat for corrosion and clean it if necessary. Dry the valve seat and sand it smooth with sand paper.

Step Two: Is the water level is too high?

If the water level in the tank is too high, it may continuously spill over the overflow tube (A), creating a large leak. The correct water level is about one-half to one inch below the top of the overflow tube.

To lower your water level:

  1. Turn the float rod (J) adjusting screw (H) clockwise to lower the water level one or two centimeters below the overflow tube (you may also gently bend metal float arms)
  2. Replace the screw if it is corroded or stripped
  3. Flush after making adjustments to test whether the water stops at the proper level
  4. Ensure the refill tube (I) is securely inside the overflow tube (A) no deeper than five cm (if the water level is too low, you may not get an effective flush)

What if the water level stays the same?

If this doesn't lower your water level, the float ball (B) may be waterlogged and needs replacing or the float ball assembly may need replacing. Some toilets do not have a float ball and the method for adjusting the water level may vary.

Remember to bring your old plumbing part to the store with you to ensure you get a matching acceptable replacement part. After replacing parts in your toilet, always repeat the toilet leak test with food colouring to ensure you have a good fit.

*This information is provided for your benefit. If you do not feel comfortable making these adjustments please hire a plumber. The City of Calgary will not be responsible for any damage because of faulty repairs.