What’s that noise from the toilet? Does it mean you have a problem with phantom flushing? We’re not talking about the latest “Ghostbusters” film, but the uncanny experience of hearing your toilet flushing on its own.
There’s no shame in admitting that you may be a little spooked. Phantom flushing (also known as “ghost flushing”) is indeed worrisome. It’s a sign of water leaks somewhere in the toilet – bad news because leakage wastes water (which costs you money on your Ottawa-area water bill and is environmentally-unfriendly as well).
Not sure whether your toilet is leaking? Try this easy test. Add several drops of food colouring to the toilet tank and wait half an hour. If you end up with coloured water in the toilet bowl, you’re definitely looking at a leak. (Friendly plumber tip: Be sure to flush after finishing this test so the colouring won’t leave a stain.)
Now let’s plunge deep into this plumbing problem to explore 4 possible causes.
The most likely culprit is your toilet flapper, that circular rubber thingamajig at the bottom of the tank that acts as a cover for the flush valve drain hole. This component normally opens when you flush the toilet and closes when the toilet tank refill is complete.
However, toilet flappers tend to last only about 5 years. A flapper which has warped or otherwise deteriorated over time will not close properly, leading to the eerie sound of the toilet flushing on its own. Fortunately, there is a fix: remove the old flapper and install a new one.
Another flapper-related issue occurs when the chain that holds the flapper in place is too long. As a result, the flapper may not be correctly seating atop the drain. When this happens, it could help to cut out a section of chain and then replace the flapper.
2. Flush Valve Gasket
Next on the list of toilet troubleshoots is your flush valve gasket. This is a simple circular piece, which serves as a mechanical seal for the flush valve. When the gasket stops working as it should, it will allow water to leak down the drain… and once again, you’ll be faced with phantom flushing phenomenon. Sometimes both the flush valve gasket and the tank-to-bowl gasket both fail, resulting in a water leak from the tank onto your floor.
The float has the important function of controlling the water level in your toilet tank. If the water supply is too low, you won’t get a powerful enough flush. But if the level is too high – guess what? Your toilet will keep up that irritating flushing on its own. If this is the case, adjusting the float is key to a successful resolution.
4. Refill Tube
A fourth toilet part that may need attention is the refill tube. This narrow flexible tube, usually white or black, sits at the top of your toilet tank, connected to the fill valve. The refill tube may become detached or conversely, extend too deep into the overflow tube. Either situation could cause your toilet to flush on its own until the refill tube is repositioned.
End Phantom Flushing Fast
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