Flush toilets are a useful modern convenience when they are working properly, but can be irritating when they have problems. Understanding how your toilet works will make it much easier to deal with if and when it develops problems. Trouble with a constantly running or leaking toilet is often related to the float valve. Only older toilets have float valves; these have been replaced in newer toilets with flush valves.
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Bent Float Valve Arm
If your toilet is either running constantly, or is stopping before the bowl has refilled, the problem may be that your float valve's arm is bent, causing the float valve to be at the wrong height. Take off the cover of your rear toilet tank and have a look. The plastic or metal ball floating on top of the water is the float valve. When the water gets high enough, it presses the ball upward and triggers a shutoff valve. If the arm is bent upward, the water will get high enough to start running out the overflow before shutting the valve. If the arm is bent downward, the valve will be shut off before the bowl has finished filling.
Sometimes the float valve can develop a crack or a leak, causing it to fill with water. When this happens it no longer floats on top of the water. When you flush the toilet, the rear tank will refill but the ball won't float up on top of the water, and the water will simply keep running into the rear tank and out the overflow valve.
If the float valve arm gets bent or jarred too badly, the float valve can be broken off of it. If you take the lid off of your rear tank and see the float valve floating on the water but not attached to anything, this is obviously what happened. You will probably need to replace both the float and the float arm to make the toilet work properly.
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