Why Does My Toilet Randomly Run for a Few Seconds? (& How to Fix It)

Toilets are of course a miracle of indoor plumbing, and when they function properly, they keep your home running smoothly. That said, toilets do of course come with their problems. Anything of this nature that uses a variety of mechanical mechanisms to flush water from one container to another is bound to have issues at one point or another.

One of these issues is a toilet that seems to run randomly, for a few seconds at a time. So, what causes this issue and how can it be fixed?

Why Does My Toilet Randomly Run for a Few Seconds?

4 Reasons Why Your Toilet Could Be Randomly Running for a Few Seconds

Let’s get to it and take a look at all of the possible causes of why your toilet might run randomly for a few seconds. What’s nice about this problem, if we can say that, is that the solutions to all of the issues that we are about to take a look at are fairly simple and straightforward.

1.  A Cracked Toiler Flapper

One of the issues that could be causing your toilets to run randomly is if the toilet flapper is cracked. The flapper is the mechanism that is supposed to go down and re-seal the tank when enough water has flushed through down to the bowl.

However, if your flapper is old, broken, cracked, or just decayed, then it may allow water to run through at random times. The flapper is only supposed to allow water to go through when you flush the toilet, but if it is cracked or chipped, it might develop a mind of its own.

Toilet Flapper

2. Problems with the Chain

A cracked toilet flapper is not the cause of your toilet running randomly, then the next most probable cause is that there is an issue with the chain. There is a chain attached to the flushing lever, and when you push the lever down, it lifts the chain up, and in turn, lifts up the flapper to allow water to flush into the toilet.

However, if the chain is too short, it may randomly cause the flapper to lift up off the hole and allow some water into the bowl. Next, the chain could also be too long or attached to the wrong link. If this is the case, the chain may sometimes get caught under the flapper, thus not allowing the flapper to properly seal the opening.

3. Issues with the Float

Yet another cause of your toilet running randomly for a few seconds at a time, one of the most likely causes, in fact, is if the float ball on your toilet is too high. The float ball controls when the toilet tank stops refilling.

Now, if the float ball is placed too high up, the toilet tank will fill too much, when the toilet tank fills too much, that excess water needs to find a way out, in which case that water will flow through the overflow tube and down into the toilet bowl.

4. A Wrongly Positioned Refill Tube

The other likely cause of your toilet running randomly every few seconds is if the refill tube is either improperly positioned or too long. If the refill tube is not positioned properly, it will create a suction effect and keep pulling water out of the fill valve and sending it right into the toilet.

Toilet Refill Tube

How Much Extra in Water Does a Running Toilet Cost?

Before we get into the money aspect of it, let’s just remember that wasting water is also very terrible for the environment. That water had to be filtered and cleaned before it got to your house, and that is a lot of energy that gets wasted, If all of that water simply runs straight through your toilet and back out into the sewer.

However, your main concern is probably how much money that running toilet is costing you. Well, if the worst-case scenario here is that a running toilet can wait as much as 4.5 gallons of water every single minute. This would translate to around 300 gallons per hour or about 6,480 gallons per day. The worst-case scenario is that this could increase your water bill by a whopping $60 per day.

Now, we are talking about a toilet that runs randomly for a few seconds, so to make this picture more accurate for you, let’s divide those figures above by 24 (let’s assume that your toilet randomly runs for a total of one hour per day), this would still mean that your toilet is wasting around 270 gallons of water per day, which could cost you as much as $2.5 per day, or well over $900 per year. While it might not feel like it, having a running toilet does add up in extra water costs.

How to Fix a Toilet That Runs Randomly for a Few Seconds

Alright, so now that we have figured out what the main causes of your toilet running randomly for a few seconds are, let’s figure out what the solutions are.

1.  Get a New Flapper

One of the easiest solutions to this problem, at least if the cause is a broken flapper, is to simply replace the flapper. Now we suppose that if there is just a crack in the flapper, you could try using some waterproof epoxy or a similar type of adhesive in order to repair it.

However, this might simply not be possible, and moreover buying a new flapper does not cost much money. All you have to do is disconnect the old flapper, buy one that matches the old one, and then reconnect it the same way that you disconnected the old one.

2. Fix the Chain

If you can see that the chain that holds the flapper up is too short, then all you need to do is to disconnect it and re-hook it on a link that allows for more slack. If the chain is too long and is causing a part of it to get stuck under the flapper when it attempts to close, then all you have to do is to disconnect the chain and then re-hook it on a link that causes the chain to become shorter.

3. Lower the Float

If the cause of your toilet running randomly is that the float is too high, which therefore causes water to go into the overflow tube, then the simple solution is to lower the float. All you have to do is to either loosen or tighten the float arm until the float moves down far enough so that the water level is low enough so that it can no longer go into the overflow tube.

Toilet Float

4. Alter the Refill Tube

If the issue is that the refill tube is either too long or improperly positioned, all you have to do is to pull the refill tube out of the overflow tube and then hold it above the opening of the overflow to see how long it needs to be, and trim off the refill tube to the correct length and then replace it.

Should You Attempt the Fixes Yourself or Hire a Plumber?

All of the fixes that we have talked about today are extremely easy, ones that you should be able to do all on your own. With that being said, if none of the above solutions have fixed the problem, then you will have no other choice but to call a professional for help. Either way, this is a problem that does need to be fixed, or else you will continue to waste water, and therefore waste money.

Summary

There you have it people, everything you need to know about why your toilet runs randomly for a few seconds, how much money that is actually costing you, and how to solve the problem.