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Learn How to Fix a Running or Clogged Toilet with This Step-by-Step Guide

Fix a Running or Clogged Toilet

When it comes to home repairs, few things are more frustrating than discovering a clogged or running toilet. Not only can these issues be messy and unsanitary, but they can also lead to more significant problems if left unchecked. Fortunately, with a bit of know-how and some basic tools, you can quickly and easily fix most common toilet problems.

Overview of the Common Toilet Issues

A toilet that won’t flush well means that its drain is partially or completely plugged. Most clogged toilets are what are known as “slow drainers.” That is, flush water partially fills the bowl but doesn’t rush out and clean away the waste. The water level remains high, then usually drains down to normal height after some time.

In some cases, you might not even know the toilet is clogged until you flush it. So if you suspect a problem, test the drainage first, then reach for the toilet plunger.

On the other hand, a running toilet can be caused by a few different issues, including a faulty flapper, a damaged flush valve, or a float that is set too high. In any case, a running toilet can waste a significant amount of water over time, which can drive up your utility bills and harm the environment.

Importance of Knowing How to Fix a Running or Clogged Toilet

Knowing how to fix a running or clogged toilet is an essential skill for any homeowner or renter. Not only can it save you money on costly plumbing repairs, but it can also prevent damage to your home caused by overflowing water. Additionally, fixing a toilet yourself can be empowering and give you a sense of satisfaction in knowing you can handle basic home repairs.

However, if you are uncomfortable with DIY repairs or the problem is more severe than you feel comfortable handling, don’t hesitate to call a professional plumber. A skilled plumber can quickly diagnose and fix the issue, ensuring that your toilet is working correctly and preventing further damage to your home.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Now that you understand the common issues with running and clogged toilets and why it’s essential to know how to fix them, let’s dive into the step-by-step instructions for fixing these problems.

Step 1: Turn off the Water Supply

Before you begin any toilet repair, it’s essential to turn off the water supply to the toilet. This will prevent any water from flowing into the tank and bowl while you work, reducing the risk of flooding or making the problem worse.

Locate the Shut-Off Valve

The shut-off valve is usually located behind the toilet near the wall. It may be a lever-style valve that turns off by turning it clockwise, or it may be a knob-style valve that you need to turn a few times to shut off the water.

Turn Off the Water Supply

Once you’ve located the shut-off valve, turn it off by turning the lever or knob clockwise until it stops. You should now have successfully turned off the water supply to the toilet.

Step 2: Identify the Problem

Next, you need to identify whether you have a clog or a running toilet. Once you’ve determined the issue, you can take steps to fix it.

Determine if it is a Clog or Running Toilet

If your toilet won’t flush or drains slowly, you likely have a clog. On the other hand, if your toilet continues to run after flushing, you have a running toilet.

Check the Flapper and Flush Valve

If you have a running toilet, the most common cause is a faulty flapper or flush valve. To check these components, remove the tank lid and flush the toilet. Watch to see if the flapper closes completely after flushing. If it doesn’t, it may need replacing. Additionally, check the flush valve to ensure that it is firmly in place and not damaged.

Step 3: Fixing a Clogged Toilet

Use a Plunger

If you have a clogged toilet, the first step is to try using a plunger. Place the plunger over the drain hole and press down firmly, creating a seal. Then, push and pull the plunger up and down vigorously, creating suction that can dislodge the clog. Repeat as necessary until the toilet flushes correctly.

Try a Plumbing Snake

If the plunger isn’t working, you can try using a plumbing snake to remove the clog. Feed the snake down the drain, rotating it as you go, until you encounter the blockage. Then, use a back-and-forth motion to break up the clog and remove it from the drain.

Step 4: Fixing a Running Toilet

Adjust the Flapper

If the flapper is not closing correctly after flushing, it may need adjusting. To do this, adjust the chain that connects the flapper to the flush handle. If the chain is too long, it can prevent the flapper from closing fully. If it’s too short, it can keep the flapper from opening entirely.

Adjust the Float

If the float is set too high, it can cause the toilet to run continuously. To fix this, adjust the float so that it sits lower in the tank and doesn’t activate the fill valve until the water level drops below a certain point.

Step 5: Test the Toilet

Turn on the Water Supply

Once you’ve made the necessary repairs, turn the water supply back on by turning the shut-off valve counterclockwise until the water flows again.

Flush the Toilet

Flush the toilet to ensure that the clog is gone and that the toilet is no longer running. If everything is working correctly, the toilet should flush correctly and refill without running for an extended period.

Check for Leaks

Finally, check for leaks around the base of the toilet or at the shut-off valve. If you notice any signs of leaking, tighten connections or replace damaged components as needed.


Fixing a running or clogged toilet is a relatively straightforward process that requires a few basic tools and some know-how. By following the step-by-step instructions in this guide, you can quickly and easily diagnose and repair most common toilet issues, saving money on costly plumbing repairs and preventing damage to your home.

Remember, if you are uncomfortable with DIY repairs orthe problem seems more severe than you feel comfortable handling, it’s always best to call a professional plumber. They can quickly diagnose and fix the issue, ensuring that your toilet is working correctly and preventing further damage to your home. So next time you encounter a clogged or running toilet, don’t panic – with this guide, you’ll be well-equipped to tackle the problem head-on and get your bathroom back in working order.