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Why Does My Toilet Randomly Run For a Few Seconds? – 10 Reasons

Paulk-Webb-author
Written by Paulk Webb
Freddie J. Hagopian
Fact checked by Freddie J. Hagopian

Published:

why does my toilet randomly run for a few seconds

New toilet models are designed to save water with a minimum of 1.6 gallons per flush based on the mandate of EPA or 1.28 GPL with recent advanced models. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible, especially if your toilet keeps running off and on.

You can’t help but wonder: why does my toilet randomly run for a few seconds? A flushing mechanism is inside a toilet to send the waste to the sewer. Some of its components are flapper, chain, float and refill tube may cause this issue.

Be guided by this article regarding toilet inspection so you know how to start and the proper steps when your toilet keeps refilling and running.

List of Common Reasons

toilet-keeps-running-off-and-on

Toilet running occasionally gives homeowners a headache. As soon as possible, you have to fix it on your own. Resolution should be applied without delay, especially if you’re not always at home to check on your toilet.

If your toilet runs intermittently, your pocket will suffer because of the increase in the water bill. For the sake of caring for the environment, you don’t want to be an irresponsible person who just wastes water without applying resolution.

As you observe your toilet, the discovery of the toilet that runs randomly every few minutes will further bother you. Here’s a list of common reasons that you can easily fix.

1. Old or broken toilet flapper

An old or broken toilet flapper is one of the common reasons why your toilet just randomly runs. It’s based on its role of going down to reseal the toilet tank when enough water for flushing is released.

The flapper won’t constantly abide by its role if it’s old, cracked, broken, and decayed. It even allows water to come out on its own. Thus, your toilet runs all of a sudden for a few seconds and then stops.

2. Toilet flapper is out of place

Besides being old and malfunctioning, a flapper can sometimes be out of place. So, flushes don’t normally occur as the water flows by itself, even without pushing the lever. If the flapper is out of place, the water just comes out of the tank.

3. Sediment on flapper

The accumulation of sediment on the toilet flapper is something that you can’t stop over time. You should know that sediment is present inside the tank so it adheres to all the components including the flapper.

The sign that a flapper is covered with sediment is when it makes a noise when a refill takes place. This happens as sediment can damage the flapper’s body. It results in leakage that drives a running toilet.

4. Chain issues

After checking the flapper and it’s in a good condition, you have to check the chain next. This chain is found on the flushing lever which lifts the chain when the user pushes it down. The chain moves the flapper to allow water flow.

The chain needs to have the right slack to do its job properly. The toilet randomly flushes when it’s too short. An excessive length of chain is not good as well since it can get stuck under the flapper.

Furthermore, the flapper won’t close completely and the water comes out even if you don’t flush the toilet. When this happens, your toilet runs for 5 seconds then stops.

5. The float ball is too high

A toilet just runs by itself if the float ball is too high. To discuss why it happens, you have to know or be reminded that this ball is responsible for controlling every tank refill. The high placement of a float encourages more water to fill the tank.

But this scenario makes water flow unrestrained. So, the excess amount will find its way out by going down the toilet bowl.

6. Wrong position of the refill tube

Another common reason is the wrong position of the refill tube or if it’s too long. This forms a suction that pulls out the water from the fill valve. The water’s destination is, of course, the toilet bowl.

7. Damaged handle

A toilet has a handle or lever to trigger flushing. Once you press it, some pressure is sent to the tank to unleash water. It still functions even though it’s inactive as it keeps other parts in place to prevent leakage.

A handle in good condition is subject to those functions. However, a damaged one will fail and cause disarray in other parts. The next thing that you’ll find is a running toilet without being flushed.

8. Weakened gasket

A gasket is situated on the bottom part of the tank and it’s responsible for letting the water come out of the tank. It can also subdue the water flow after the flush. Unfortunately, time takes a toll on the gasket and it becomes incapable of its job.

The water seeps through a weakened gasket so you discover your toilet runs sometimes even at night.

9. Defective flushing mechanism

There’s no doubt that a defective flushing mechanism can alter the toilet’s operation. To confirm this cause of running the toilet, you have to check the cistern, float rod, float rod, inlet tube, inlet valve, piston, retaining nut, siphon, and valve washer.

10. Defective sensor

This issue can happen among smart toilets. The defective sensor is typically the reason why it runs by itself.

How to Fix a Running Toilet

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Don’t jump to a conclusion that you need a new toilet as it’s been running every 10 minutes. Here’s a complete guide that you can follow to try fixing the issue.

  • Issues with flapper
  • Old or broken flapper

You have no choice but to replace an old or broken flapper. Remove the old flapper by unhooking the chain from the lever. Lift the side ears of the flapper away from the pegs which extend until the sides of flush tubes.

You have to hook the new flapper on the pegs. Put the chain back into its designated place. Adjusting the chain is another step that you shouldn’t miss for proper slack.

  • Out of place flapper

If the issue persists after replacing the flapper, it could be out of place. The easy fix is through adjustment. Pay attention to the lift wire and you have to straighten it if it’s bent.

If the wire is fine, lift it so you can loosen the adjustment screw of the guide arm. With the help of slip-joint pliers, you can adjust the guide arm as you bring the flapper to the outlet of the flush valve. Finish it up by tightening the guide arm.

Sediment on the flapper – Cleaning the inside of the tank can minimize the sediment that sticks on your flapper. Don’t allow it to accumulate as it can break the flapper that needs replacement. You can use a scrub pad or brush and vinegar for cleaning.

  • Chain issues – Open the tank so you can disconnect the chain for the right slack if it’s too long or short. After adjusting its proper length, you can hook it back.
  • Float all too high – Since the float ball is too high, you have to lower it by tightening or loosening the float arm. You’ll know that you’ve fixed the issue if the water is no longer getting into the overflow tube.
  • Wrong position of refill tube – You need to cut the refill tube as the length does something to its position. Take it out from the overflow’s opening to check the proper length.
  • Damaged handle – You don’t always need to replace the handle but if you do, get a new one that is compatible with your toilet. The handle is sometimes stuck inside the tank so you only need to set it free.
  • Weakened gasket – It’s best to remove and replace the weakened gasket as it can’t stop water from seeping through. You have to get the exact size and screw it in place.
  • Defective flushing mechanism – When there’s a defective flushing mechanism, flush valve replacement is usually the solution.
  • Defective sensor – Recalibration is the solution for this issue.

FAQs

Will a randomly running toilet increase your water bill?

Yes because a randomly runny toilet can waste 270 gallons of water a day. This amount is for an hour of continuous water flow. At this rate, the increase on your water bill is $2.5 per day and it sums up to $900 in a year.

Should you call a plumber for randomly running water?

What if I tried all the steps but it didn’t stop my toilet from running randomly? You’ll be asking this after you spent time and effort fixing the issue by following the guide above. When you’re at this point, you should call a plumber.

Conclusion

Why does my toilet randomly run for a few seconds? This issue arises when there’s something wrong with the components inside the tank. You have to check the flapper, chain, float, refill tube, handle, gasket, and flushing mechanism.

These components can make the toilet randomly run without flushing. They either need adjustment or replacement. It’s given that they’re not invincible to serve their purpose as time goes by so they sometimes fail to do their roles.

5/5 - (2 votes)

a few words from the author

Paulk-Webb-author

"I'm Paulk Webb, and I work as a writer for Saveourwaterrebates. I'm happy to put in the time and effort to conduct market research to identify the most pressing issues faced by households concerning their plumbing.Hopefully, our articles and research will help you solve the problems you are facing"

– Paulk Web