How to Fix a Running Toilet Without a Ball Float: A Comprehensive Guide

Running toilets are not just an annoying source of white noise in the home; they can also lead to increased water bills.

Thankfully, with a bit of DIY know-how, you can save both your sanity and your wallet by learning how to fix a running toilet without a ball float yourself!

This article, taking inspiration from Terry’s how-to channel, will guide you step-by-step through the process of fixing a running toilet without a ball float. (see Terry’s video below:

Understanding Your Toilet Mechanism

Every toilet has a mechanism that controls the flow of water into the bowl after flushing. In traditional designs, a ball float is used, but there are other models, like the American Standard dual flush toilet, that use a different type of mechanism.

This mechanism involves a floating cylinder attached to a rod that triggers the stop valve when the tank is full. Understanding this will be crucial in our quest to stop the toilet from running.

Toilets traditionally used a ball float mechanism to control the water level in the tank. This system involved a large ball attached to a lever, which would rise as the tank filled with water, eventually activating a stop valve to halt the water inflow when the tank was full. This design, while effective, was quite bulky and could be prone to wear and tear over time.

Modern toilets, on the other hand, often use a more compact design that replaces the ball float with a cylinder or cup float. This mechanism functions similarly, rising with the water level and signaling the fill valve to stop the water. However, this design is much smaller and typically more efficient and durable than the traditional ball float mechanism. The smaller design also leaves more room in the tank for other components and can help to reduce the overall size of the toilet. Despite the differences in design, both systems serve the same fundamental purpose: to control the water level in the tank and prevent overflows.

Signs of a Running Toilet

Running toilets can be identified by several signs, including the constant sound of water running or the toilet tank refilling when not in use. Another telltale sign, as Terry showed us in his video, is water trickling down into the overflow tube even when the tank is full.

Common Causes of a Running Toilet Without a Ball Float

Toilet designs without a ball float usually employ a more streamlined and efficient floating mechanism, typically a cylinder or cup float. While these types of floats are generally more reliable, they can still cause the toilet to run continuously if they malfunction or are not properly adjusted. Let’s dive into the most common causes for such problems:

  1. Misaligned Floater: The floater’s role is to rise with the water level in the tank and signal the fill valve to stop the water supply when the tank is full. If the floater is not aligned correctly, it may not rise as it should, failing to activate the stop valve. This causes the water to keep flowing, leading to an overfilled tank and a running toilet.
  2. Faulty Fill Valve: The fill valve controls the water flow into the toilet tank. If it’s damaged or worn out, it may not respond properly to the floater’s signal to stop the water inflow, resulting in continuous running water.
  3. Sediment Build-Up: Over time, sediment can build up in the toilet tank, particularly in the fill valve and floater mechanism. This can restrict the movement of the floater or even block the fill valve, disrupting their function and leading to a running toilet.
  4. Damaged or Worn Out Floater: The floater itself could be the problem. If it’s cracked, broken, or worn out, it may not be able to rise adequately or at all. This means it can’t effectively signal the fill valve to halt water inflow once the tank is full.
  5. Incorrect Water Level Adjustment: Modern toilets often have a screw or dial that allows for the adjustment of the water level. If this is set too high, the water level in the tank can exceed the overflow tube’s height, leading to a continuously running toilet.

When dealing with a running toilet without a ball float, these are the issues you should inspect first. It’s usually a simple fix, and understanding the underlying cause is the first step to resolving the problem and saving water.

How to Fix a Running Toilet Without a Ball Float - Sometimes you just need a screwdriver!

Essential Tools for Fixing a Running Toilet

A good set of screwdrivers is usually enough to fix a running toilet without a ball float. Some systems may require a Star Head screwdriver, as demonstrated by Terry in the video earlier.

Step-by-Step Guide: How to Fix a Running Toilet Without a Ball Float

  1. Inspect the Fill Valve and Floater: As shown in Terry’s video, the first step is to remove the tank lid and inspect the fill valve and the floater. If the water is still running despite the tank being full, it’s likely that the floater is not rising high enough to trigger the stop valve.
  2. Adjust the Floater: If the floater isn’t triggering the stop valve, it may need to be adjusted. As Terry demonstrated, you can usually do this by twisting a screw on the fill valve rod to extend it, thus allowing the floater to rise higher.
  3. Test the Adjustment: Once the adjustment has been made, test it by turning on the water supply to the tank. The water should fill the tank until the floater reaches a level high enough to activate the stop valve, stopping the water flow.
  4. Further Adjustments: If the toilet is still running, further adjustments may be needed. Repeat the adjustment process until the issue is resolved.

Prevention Tips

Regular maintenance can help prevent a running toilet. Periodically check the condition of the fill valve and floater and make any necessary adjustments. Also, avoid using toilet cleaning tablets that drop into the tank, as they can damage the fill valve over time.

When to Call a Professional

While it’s often possible to fix a running toilet yourself, there are times when it’s best to call in a professional. If you’ve tried the steps outlined above and the toilet is still running, or if there are other problems such as leaks, a professional plumber will be able to diagnose and fix the issue.

Final Thoughts

Running toilets are a common household issue, but they’re also usually a simple one to fix. Understanding how your toilet mechanism works and how to make necessary adjustments can save you money on

water bills and potential plumber charges. Remember, the key lies in accurately adjusting the floater and fill valve. Just like Terry, you too can conquer your running toilet problems and enjoy the sweet sound of silence.


Remember, if you are unable to fix the issue yourself, don’t hesitate to call a professional. While this guide will help in most cases, certain situations require expert assistance. As with any DIY project, safety should always be your first priority.

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