Toilet Tune Up

Did you know that as much as 80,000 gallons of water can be wasted each year by an undetected toilet tank leak? It makes economic and environmental sense to occasionally check the toilets around your home. Your toilet tank may simply need a good 'tune-up.' Here are some adjustments you can make.

Refill Valve

If your tank has a conventional ballcock refill valve, the water level is adjusted by bending the float arm (Fig. 1). The level should be high enough for complete flushes, but the water should not be to the top of the overflow pipe. Your tank should have a colored or molded water level mark. It should never be set so low that the bowl does not refill with trap sealing water. The rule of thumb is to set the water level about 3/4' below the top of the overflow pipe.

If the float rubs on other parts, simply adjust the float arm sideways. If the float lacks buoyancy, unscrew then shake it to determine if it is waterlogged. A waterlogged float should be replaced. The float arm can also be replaced, if needed.


In tanks using modern plastic refill valves, the tank water level is adjusted in other ways. If your tank uses a hand nut, turn the nut clockwise to raise, or counterclockwise to lower, the water level. Or, your tank may have a sliding pinch clamp on an adjustment rod (Fig. 2).

Flush Valve

Replacements for a flush ball and its actuating mechanism are available, but it may be possible to stop a leak with minor adjustments. Check the following mechanisms before purchasing replacements.

See that the guide arm is centered directly over the seat. The guide arm should drop the flush ball directly into its seat. If the flush ball is not seating properly, make the adjustment shown in Fig. 3.

The guide arm should allow the flush ball to rise enough for a complete flush. If not, raise the arm. Be careful that it isn't too high–then it will prevent the ball from closing completely.

Check that the upper lift wire pulls the flush ball high enough. To adjust it, simply bend the wire for a higher or lower lift.


The lifting hardware on a flapper-type flush valve should raise the rubber flapper to start a flush, but should not hold the flapper up off its seat. If this is occurring, the hardware is adjusted too short. Some types allow you to slide the flapper itself up or down on the refill tube to ensure that the flapper meets the valve seat squarely. The lifting hardware and flapper height adjustments are the first things to check when flapper problems arise.

Refill Tube

If the bowl-refill tube is out of place, water is routed directly into the tank, rather than replenishing water in the bowl. When this is the case, you will likely hear splashing sounds during tank refill. The refill tube should aim directly into the overflow pipe but should not reach below water level. If the tube extends too low, it will siphon tank water silently away. Fix it by repositioning as shown in Fig. 4.

Defective refill tubes on some valves can be replaced with new plastic ones. Simply place one end of the plastic tube over the serrated plastic lug on the body of the valve, and place the plastic holder in the top of the overflow pipe.

Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Information in this document has been furnished by the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) and associated contributors. Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy and safety. Neither NRHA, any contributor nor the retailer can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

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