My Toilet Tank Is Spraying Water! How to Fix a Toilet Fill Valve

by Team HomeServe
The inside workings of a toilet bowl

Is your toilet acting up? From toilet handle issues to clogs, a lot can go wrong with the busiest seat in the house. One of those things is the toilet fill valve, which controls the water that goes from the tank to the bowl. When you flush the toilet, it opens to let the water in the bowl. Then, it closes to refill the tank.

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When this valve fails, you’ll need to know how to fix a toilet fill valve to get your toilet back on track. Here’s what to do.

What Causes a Toilet Valve to Fail?

One of the most common causes of a failing toilet valve is simple wear and tear. The more times you flush, the more wear that happens to the toilet valve. This can cause the fill valve to move out of alignment or otherwise experience problems.

These toilet valves can also become dirty or clogged when debris builds up inside of them. The inner components are often inaccessible, which means it’s difficult impossible to clean out the debris.

How to Know When to Replace a Toilet Fill Valve

All homeowners should know basic toilet maintenance — like when to replace or fix a toilet fill valve. In addition to spraying water, here are some signs that you need a new toilet valve:

  • Constantly running toilet
  • Strange noises, such as low humming or screeching
  • Tank takes a long time to refill
  • Weak flushing

Can a Toilet Fill Valve Be Repaired?

When the toilet fill valve fails, you usually need to replace the whole thing. A new fill valve is inexpensive. Plus, you get the peace of mind of knowing that everything is news and less likely to fail again soon.

That said, you can make some adjustments to your fill valve that could help. For example, if the toilet doesn't fill to the appropriate level, there's an adjustment on the fill valve that you can move up or down. You can also adjust the height of the fill valve if needed.

How Do You Repair a Toilet Fill Valve?

The easiest way to fix a toilet fill valve is to simply replace it. Sometimes, you can remove and clean the existing fill valve to correct the issue. But usually, the answer you want when you ask how to fix a toilet fill valve is to install a new one. If the valve is very worn, it's probably best to replace the entire thing to prevent more problems. You'll often spend more on wasted water than you would to buy a replacement valve.

How Do You Replace a Toilet Fill Valve?

If your toilet fill valve fails, you usually need to replace it completely. These steps should guide you in the process:

1. Shut off the water supply to the toilet. The shut-off valve is usually behind the toilet tank.

2. Flush the toilet to empty the tank. You might need to use a sponge or towel to soak up the remaining water in the tank to keep it from spilling on your floor.

3. Position a bucket on the floor underneath where the water supply line connects with the toilet. This catches any leftover water that you can't remove from the tank, which will leak out as soon as you remove the old fill valve.

4. Disconnect the water supply line at the base of the toilet tank.

5. Unscrew the locknut on the toilet fill valve and remove it from the tank.

6. Position the new fill valve inside the toilet tank, referring to the package instructions if necessary. The tube on the valve goes into the discharge. There might be a clip to attach the hose as well, depending on the replacement valve you buy. The fill valve is adjustable. The overflow pipe in your toilet should be 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) below the critical level mark on the flush valve for things to work correctly.

7. Adjust the fill valve if necessary to get the correct height. You might need to cut off the top portion of the overflow pipe if you've extended the fill valve as much as possible, but the overflow pipe is still too tall.

8. Hand-tighten the locknut once you get the proper positioning of the toilet fill valve. You want it tight enough to keep the valve in place without overtightening and breaking it.

9. Reconnect the water line and turn the water supply on.

10. Test the toilet to make sure it flushes and refills correctly without leaking. You can adjust the water level inside the tank by squeezing the metal clip and sliding it up or down along the metal rod.

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What Type of Fill Valve Do I Need?

When you're buying a replacement part, you might notice different styles of fill valves at the store. Some older models use a ball float to measure the water level and determine when to shut off the water. A more modern design is the float cup fill valve, which has a round float mounted around the shaft. The float goes up and down with the water level and determines when the water level is high enough. You can also get floatless fill valves that use a pressure-sensing diaphragm to control the water.

Tips on How to Fix a Toilet Fill Valve

Use these tips to help when replacing or fixing a toilet fill valve.

  • Try adjusting your current toilet fill valve first to see if that resolves the issues.
  • Keep a bucket under the water connection point until the replacement is completely done and you're sure it's not leaking.
  • Grab an old towel in case you need to dry up spilled water. Place the old fill valve on the towel to keep any water from leaking out of it.
  • Avoid using a wrench or pliers to tighten parts so you don’t break them.