By Ande Waggener
So, your toilet keeps running, and you’ve tried the most common ways to fix a running toilet. This means it’s time to think about the toilet fill valve. The fill valve is what opens up the water supply that refills the toilet tank after a flush. Because it gets so much use, it will eventually wear out. Thankfully, replacing it’s not a time-consuming or difficult job. Here’s how to put in a new toilet fill valve.
Stage 1: Gather your Materials
One tool and one part are all that are required for this job.
1. Depending on which you prefer to use to tighten nuts, grab some channel-type pliers or an adjustable wrench from your toolbox.
2. A new fill valve. You don’t have to take out the old fill valve before you buy a new one. Most fill valves sold will fit most toilets. Just be sure the packaging indicates that it works with the toilet you have. If you have an older toilet with an old-fashioned ball float, you can now update it because the new fill valves have integrated float cups.
Stage 2: Turn off the Water
Shut off the water running to the toilet by turning the shut-off valve at the base of the toilet fully counterclockwise until you can’t turn it anymore.
Stage 3: Empty the Tank
You want to work in a water-free zone so no water will spill out when you loosen the old fill valve.
1. Flush the toilet. This will empty the toilet tank.
2. Remove the tank lid.
3. Mop up whatever water is still in the bottom of the tank.
4. Just to be on the safe side, place a shallow bin under the tank to catch any water that you missed.
Stage 4: Remove the Old Valve
Obviously, you have to get the old valve out before you can put in a new one.
1. Under the tank, on the left side, you’ll see the water supply line feeding into the bottom of the tank. It’s held in place with a nut. Loosen this nut and let it and the washer that goes with it slide down the water supply line as you move the line away from the toilet.
2. Lift the old valve out of the tank.
Stage 5: Get the New Valve Ready
You have to do a little prep work on the new valve before you install it.
1. A rubber washer will be included with the fill valve. Slide it onto the bottom flange of the fill valve stem.
2. Fill valves can be adjusted to a height that accommodates different-sized tanks. Using your tank as the guide, rotate the valve’s shaft to lengthen or shorten it. You want the top of the valve to be just slightly above the overflow tube. But obviously you want to be sure that the valve isn’t so tall that you can’t close the tank lid.
Stage 6: Install the New Valve
It’s time to put the new valve in.
1. Insert the bottom of the new fill valve’s stem through the opening in the bottom of the toilet tank.
2. Position the valve so the water outlet is pointed toward the toilet overflow tube.
3. Holding the valve in place with one hand from above, use your other hand to put the metal washer and mounting nut on the tailpiece of the valve.
4. Tighten the mounting nut by hand first then use your pliers to tighten the nut a bit more.
5. Connect the water supply tube to the new fill valve by again first hand-tightening it and then using your pliers to tighten it a touch more.
6. Install the rubber filling tube by first attaching one end of it to the top of the fill valve.
7. Now put the plastic connector onto the other end of the fill tube and clip it to the top of the overflow tube. (Note: Many old toilets just let the end of the fill tube rest inside the overflow tube, but new valves come with a clip that connects to the tube. This keeps the fill tube more securely in place.)
Stage 7: Check the Water Levels
Now it’s time to check your work and be sure the water levels are correct.
1. Turn on the water supply.
2. Watch as the toilet tank refills.
3. Adjust the valve to match the water level that’s right for your toilet. This level is marked on the inner walls of the toilet tank.
4. Look and feel under the tank at the bottom of the tailpiece to be sure the valve has no leaks. If you detect any water is seeping through, tighten the nut some more.
Hopefully, installing the new fill valve will have solved your toilet running problem. Most of the time, it will. If it doesn’t, you may have to replace the flush valve assembly too. This can be a DIY project that doesn’t involve hiring a plumber, but it does require that you remove the tank from the toilet. The good news, though, is that now that you know how to install a fill valve, you know how to fix one of the most common causes of a running toilet.
Images used with permission, courtesy of Ande Waggener