In order to understand how your toilet may be overflowing I first have to take a step back and explain how toilets work.
How Toilets Work
There are, basically, two parts to a toilet. The “Tank,” and the “Bowl.” The tank is where the water is stored, waiting to be flushed. The bowl is where you do your business. When you are ready to flush, by pushing down the handle you are, essentially, pulling out a plug inside the tank, which then allows all the water in the tank to empty into the bowl and flush your waste down the drain. For a great interactive visual representation visit “How Toilets Work.”
Once you flush, the tank refills. The toilet knows when to stop filling up because it has a floating device called the “filler float”. When the filler float reaches a specific height it blocks more water from coming into the toilet. This height is decided by the plumber and can easily be adjusted.
There is a second precaution against overflow. There is a tube called the “overflow tube” inside the tank. If the water level goes above the top of this tube, the water drains into the toilet. And this is were you may be having a problem.
If the filler float is set to stop the water at a level that is above the top of the overflow tube then every time your toilet’s tank fills up water will flow into the overflow tube and down the drain. Because there is nothing to stop it completely (remember, the “filler float” is set too high) then water will be overflowing constantly. Essentially, IT IS LIKE LEAVING A FAUCET ON ALL OF THE TIME.
How Can I Know If This Is Happening?
If you know what to look for, it is actually see if this is happening in YOUR toilet.
- Open the lid of your toilet.
- Look at the back of the bowl.
- If you see a stream of water there, even a little, then your “filler float” is set too high.
The fact of the matter is, is that it is difficult to find the correct height for your “filler float” and there is a good chance that your toilet IS overflowing, even if it is just a little.
How Can I Fix This?
It is actually relatively easy to fix. A plumber can take care of it in about 5 seconds.
The height of the filler float can be adjusted relatively easily inside your tank. Have in mind, though, that most toilets are different from one another.
After removing the lid of your toilet, look for your filler float, it will look like a hard-plastic balloon. Your filler float will be attached, most likely, to a plastic stick. Near the end of the stick you will probably find a small knob.When you turn it, only adjust it a VERY little bit at a time, you will be adjusting at what point your filler float will stop the water from coming into the toilet. Then flush your toilet and see if there is still a stream of water in your bowl after the tank refills.
Be aware that if you set the filler float to stop at a level that is TOO low, your toilet may not do it’s job correctly because you don’t have enough water in your tank. However, don’t stress. It is just as easy to change back what you did. If you feel uncomfortable tinkering, I guarantee that you have a neighbor that can do it in a jiffy and save you money on your water bill.
Image credit: aerostockians