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Tips for Tackling Toilet Repair

A white toilet with the top of the toilet tank removed and placed on the lid, along with several tools in Springfield, MO.


If the toilet at your Springfield, MO home or business is constantly running, it could be costing you a fortune in wasted water. Think of it like this: every second you let the water run, you’re being charged for it. Do I have your attention now? Luckily for you, problems with running toilets are usually relatively simple. However, it will require a working knowledge of toilets and their components. If the job is over your head, it’s better to call professional plumbers and let them do what they do best. While it may cost a bit more, a simple job will likely take them less time than it will take you. The experts at Air Services are always available to provide excellent plumbing services. Otherwise, for the ambitious homeowners in the Springfield, MO area, here are a few tips about DIY toilet repair.

How the Toilet Tank Works

The toilet tank’s function is to hold a certain amount of water until the toilet is flushed, at which point the water in the tank rushes down through an opening in the bottom of the tank and into the bowl. This forces waste out of the bowl and into the home’s drain and sewer lines. The process is made possible by two major toilet parts in the tank: the flush valve and the fill valve.

The mechanism that fills the tank with water is known as the toilet fill valve. It’s also referred to as a “ballcock” or a “refill valve.” When looking down from above with the tank lid removed, the fill valve is usually located on the left side of the tank. Fill valves comes in four basic variations:

  • Plunger-type ballcock: this is the oldest type of ballcock and is usually made of brass
  • Diaphragm-type ballcock: older styles may be brass, while newer types of this ballcock could be plastic
  • Float cup fill valve: a newer design for this valve is usually made of plastic
  • Floatless fill valve: another newer design for this valve, but it is not always allowed by some codes

Whatever the design, the fill valve works by automatically opening the water supply valve when the water level in the tank falls during a flush and then shutting off when the water level in the tank rises to a specific level. The valve is operated by a floating ball or a float cup that moves up and down with the water level in the tank, depending on the design. Floatless fill valves work by sensing water pressure at the tank’s bottom. Remove the tank lid and observe what happens inside the tank during the flush cycle to quickly understand how a toilet flushes.

Open cistern of toilet, providing a downward look into the inside of the toilet tank in Springfield, MO.

Flapper Problems

Flapper problems are the source of many toilet repair jobs, and this component of your toilet could affect things in multiple ways. The flapper is the rubber seal at the bottom of the toilet tank that drains water from the tank to the bowl. Additionally, there could be a number of things keeping that drain from being sealed. 


  1. The flapper could be warped, damaged, or even not closing due to mineral build-up.
  2. A chain that is too short will prevent the flapper from closing at all. 
  3. A chain that is too long may get stuck underneath, also not allowing the flapper to close.


Fill Valve Problem

Another issue that may be causing a running toilet has to do with the fill valve – the valve that regulates the level of water in the tank. First, check to see if the fill valve is too high and forcing water to constantly flow through the overflow valve. If this is too high, adjust the height of the valve to control the level of the water. The valve should be set to 1” – 1.5” below the overflow valve. If lowering the water level doesn’t help, it’s likely a bad fill valve that needs to be replaced. Fill valves can be found at hardware or plumbing supply stores and can be a DIY project. Just remember to turn off the water and drain the tank before starting to replace the valve.

If you need professional plumbing repair services, you know who to call.

Ballcock Problem

The older styles of refill valves are commonly referred to as “ballcocks,” a term that refers to the hollow floating ball that operates the valve (cock) that controls the water. Although plunger-type and diaphragm-type ballcocks are rarely found in new toilets, they can be found in older toilets. The mechanism is very simple, and when the water level needs to be adjusted, you can bend the float arm up or down to change the point at which the float ball shuts off the water supply. When a toilet continues to run after the flush cycle has been completed, it is usually because the water level in the tank is too high. The float ball will turn off the water at a lower tank level if the float arm is bent downward. Adjusting the tank’s water level is as simple as “fine-tuning” the point at which the float ball closes the valve.

If this does not work and the water continues to run, it is possible that the ballcock needs to be replaced. Ballcock valves are prone to malfunction, so if you have one, it is best to replace it with a more modern style—the float-cup fill valve. Replacement is a simple do-it-yourself project, unless you’d rather contact the professionals.


A professional plumber reaching inside the toilet tank to fix the plumbing problem in this home in Springfield, MO.

When to Call a Professional

Above all else, you don’t want to make a drastic mistake that’s going to cost you even more to get fixed. If you’re truly out of your element and want an expert to handle the repair, it’s a much better option to call a professional plumbing company like Air Services from the start. We proudly served the community in Springfield, MO. With qualified, thoroughly trained professionals, they can be on-site quickly and have your toilet repair service completed in no time. Call (417) 309-6154 now!


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