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How to Fix a Toilet Tank

A toilet that keeps running or that won't flush properly can cost plenty of money while wasting water. Learn how to roll up your sleeves and fix the flushing mechanism with minimal effort.


  • Step 1: Remove the lid Put on rubber gloves and remove the lid. Inspect the float arm to make sure it's moving freely within the tank. If the ball is filled with water or corroded, unscrew it and replace it.
  • TIP: Most toilets have either a flapper or diaphragm valve cover.
  • Step 2: Examine the lift wire or chain Look at the lift wire or chain -- a too-short chain may be allowing water to leak through the flapper valve, so replace it as needed. If the chain is too long, the tank fills slowly -- use pliers to remove some links and reposition the chain. If you have a lift wire, make sure it isn't bent or out of line.
  • Step 3: Check the flapper Turn off the water at the toilet shutoff valve and flush the toilet to empty the tank. Look at the flapper or diaphragm valve, or tank ball for signs of wear. Clean away any debris that may be impeding the water flow.
  • Step 4: Get a new toilet ballcock Get a new plastic or metal ballcock assembly. Turn off the water at the shutoff valve and empty the tank; then remove the valve plunger, examine the parts, and replace any corroded O-rings or washers.
  • Step 5: Install the new ballcock assembly Use a wrench to unscrew the coupling nut around the water inlet pipe under the tank. Lift the old assembly out of the tank, keeping all the old parts, and insert the new ballcock assembly into the tank and re-connect the fittings as outlined on the assembly directions.
  • Step 6: Turn on water Turn on the water. Enjoy your new working toilet.
  • FACT: The first mass-produced toilet paper was introduced in 1857. The flat sheets were made of hemp.

You Will Need

  • Rubber gloves
  • Spare parts
  • such as a float ball or chain
  • Pliers
  • Adjustable wrench
  • O-rings
  • Washers
  • New ballcock assembly

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