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My Toilet Makes Noise When Not in Use – Why?

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ottawa toilet making noise

Sometimes our customers notice that their toilet makes a strange whistling or whooshing sound after they flush. Other times, they notice their toilet keeps running on its own even after the tank fills.

Not only are situations like these frustrating (especially during the middle of the night when your family is trying to sleep), but they often waste water and can make your water bill skyrocket.

Read on to learn why your toilet makes noises when you’re not using or just give our friendly Ottawa plumbers a call today; they’ll be happy to answer any questions you have!

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A noisy toilet can happen for several reasons. The most common are:

  • Leaky toilet valves
  • Malfunctioning fill valves
  • Calcium deposits have built up on the inside of the pipes.

Usually, replacing a part or cleaning the pipes will help resolve the problem. We offer a full range of plumbing services in Ottawa and the surrounding area, so our certified plumbers can help you wherever you live – from Orleans to Barrhaven to Stittsville and everywhere in between.  If you are handy – You can see a diagram of a toilet showing all the parts here. 

Is your toilet making noise when not in use? Here are a few common toilet noises and the reason for them.

Types of Toilet Noises

Banging Noises

Several minutes after you flush, the toilet makes noise like a construction site- Loud noises like banging or knocking shouldn’t be ignored. These sounds are because of high water pressure in your water supply line. When the tank fills, and the water flow stops as the fill valve closes abruptly, it makes that loud sound- aptly named “water hammer”.

Ignoring the loud noise may lead to burst pipes- you will need to install a water hammer arrestor on the water line to stop your toilet from making a noise like that. You can also reduce the flow by adjusting the shut off valve, so the water pressure is lower and less likely to cause strange noises.

Gurgling Noise

As a gurgling toilet can mean many things, we don’t recommend diagnosing this one yourself. It is usually caused by a blockage somewhere along with your sewer system. That could be a blockage in the vent stack, a clog inside the toilet, a blocked drain- or the sewer drain itself may have broken and collapsed.

Some of these causes are easier to fix than others. Still, you should stop using the toilet and call a certified plumber immediately to avoid a huge toilet disaster and the cleanup and repairs that come with it.

Ghost Flushing

You could be second-guessing who is living in your home if you’re hearing flushing when no one is in the bathroom. The good news is you are not in a horror movie- the toilet is flushing by itself. However, a few elements of your toilet need to be checked or changed to fix ghost flushing.

Remove the toilet lid, check that the refill tube is over the overflow pipe, and check for a worn or faulty flapper. Next, check the flush valve drain for any issues- if all of these elements are in working order, then it’s time to call a plumber.

You are leaking water and running up bills for yourself as you’re wasting water until this issue gets fixed. If you weren’t able to see the cause, it might be an issue like a cracked flush valve, which we can help you with!

Hissing Sound

A brief hiss is normal as your tank refills, but constant hissing means the toilet flapper isn’t doing its job, and you are losing water as water leaks slowly into the toilet bowl, never filling completely. You’ll need to replace the faulty flapper to fix this issue. It is also possible that the water is draining into the overflow tube- make sure the fill valve is set to a level below the overflow valve.

Vibrating Sound

If your toilet is making a vibrating sound around the wall whenever the toilet is flushed, the problem usually has to do with the fill valve. More specifically, the diaphragm gasket inside the fill valve can wear down, lose elasticity, and harden.

You can test whether the issue is a faulty fill valve by removing the toilet tank lid and lifting the float arm gently. It is connected to the fill valve, and if it stops the noise from occurring, it will have to be replaced.

Also, the vibrating sound could come from the valve at the wall which supplies the toilet.

Other Causes of Toilet Noises

Fill Valves

Other noises can occur when an old fill valve is malfunctioning as well. For example, if you notice a whistling sound, it is most likely due to a slowly leaking valve. Adjusting the faulty fill valves until the whistling noise stops may do the trick, but the valve will probably have to be repaired or replaced if it doesn’t work.

Perhaps your toilet is noisy because it is constantly running. This also tends to be an issue with the fill valve not shutting off when it should. Once again, an adjustment to reset the float arm to a lower level inside the toilet can be the solution. First, remove the toilet tank lid and locate the float. There are a couple of types, including a cylinder float attached to the fill valve body and a floating ball type attached to the end of the rod.


If you have a cylinder float on the side, you should notice an adjustable clip that can be squeezed to lower the float down until it stops the water from running. If you have a float ball on top of the fill valve, turn the screw counterclockwise until the water stops running fully.

For both, once you have adjusted, try flushing the toilet once again. If you have a fill valve that is worn out or damaged, then there isn’t an adjustment that will resolve the problem successfully, and you will likely need to have this part replaced.

Should you notice a whooshing type of sound when the toilet is filling up that stops once the toilet tank is full, there is likely calcium buildup. Usually, this isn’t a problem in the urban part of Ottawa, but if you live just outside of town and are on a well, you may have hard water.

The pipes will need to be cleaned using a calcium and mineral deposit cleaning agent. You can learn more about solving hard water issues here.

Resolve Your Noisy Toilet Issues Quickly

You’ve tried it all, and your toilet making strange noises is still happening. If you are in need of any professional assistance, do not hesitate to call on the experts at Out of This World Plumbing.

We’ll arrive prepared with all of the plumbing tools and parts necessary to get your toilet repaired or replaced quickly and reliably. Toilet valves, failed bolt seals, toilet fittings, we’ve fixed it all and we can fix yours!

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