Sounds Your Toilet Makes And How To Fix It (5 Step Guide)

Is your toilet making noises and you want to know what it means?

Toilets can make different sounds depending on the cause, but the two most common sounds are from fill valves and flush valves — leading to running water sounds.

In this guide, I will go over…

  • Sounds that fill valves make such as ‘running water’ and even squealing
  • Toilet noises from flush valves such as gurgling
  • And other odd noises such as water hammer
Table Of Contents

Why Toilets Make Noises?

The most common noise from toilets come from incorrectly working fill valves and flush valves. If the tank keeps filling up with water, then the flush valve or ‘flapper’ isn’t keeping it’s seal on the bottom of the tank — allowing water to drain and activating the fill valve.

The toilet running sound is from the fill valve operating. And if the fill valve is not adjusted correctly, it may be overfilling the tank which spills water back into the toilet bowl through the overflow tube.

For more details on all of the possible toilet noises, keep reading…

1. Fill Valve Noises

A faulty or improperly adjusted fill valve is one of the most common sources of toilet noises. The fill valve is a device that allows water to flow into the toilet tank when the ‘float’ is activated. The float is the air filled container that rises as the tank fills with water, and activates the fill valve.

Overfilling The Tank

Many homeowners don’t realize that if the fill valve is adjusted incorrectly, it will overfill the tank, causing water to spill into the toilet bowl (through the overflow tube), causing a ‘running water’ toilet sound.

It is important to set the water level in the tank at 1/2-inch to 1-inch below the top of the overflow tube.

The easiest way to see if your fill valve is operating correctly is to remove your tank lid and watch the tank fill with water. If the tank fills with water to about 1-inch below the top of the overflow tube, then it is set correctly.

Read Also: What Are The Best Dual Flush Toilets?

Adjusting The Float

There should be a screw or knob on the fill valve that you can turn to adjust the float. Turn the knob counterclockwise to lower the water level, and clockwise to raise it.

With older style floats, it is a rubber filled sac that is connected to the fill valve with a metal rod called a float arm. To adjust the float arm, you will have to bend it upwards to raise the water level, and bend the metal rod downwards to lower the water level.

Hairline Crack in Fill Valve

If your fill valve actually activates (and you are sure it isn’t the flush valve or ‘flapper), then it there may be a hairline crack in the fill valve that is leaking.

This means that the tank will drop in water, which will activate the fill valve — causing a toilet noise. The noise of a fill valve activating will be louder than a tank that is overfilling.

If you are sure it isn’t the flapper valve, then it will probably be some crack in the fill valve and you will need to replace it.

High Pitched Squealing

If you hear a high pitched squealing from your toilet after you flush, it may be coming from a defective fill valve.

After you flush the toilet, remove the top of the toilet tank, and press down on the fill valve. If after touching the fill valve, the squealing stops, then you know that the problem is with the fill valve.

The easiest way to stop the squealing is to just replace the fill valve.

Read Also: How To Clean TOTO Washlets?

2. Flush Valve Noises

The flush valve — also known as the flapper valve — is a flexible seal on the bottom of the tank that prevents water from going into the toilet bowl. When you flush the toilet, it raises up the flush valve to allow water to flow into the toilet bowl from the tank.

If the flush valve isn’t sealing correctly, it will allow the tank to drain, which will activate the fill valve leading to a gurgling.

The gurgling sounds you hear is from the toilet bowl filling with water slowly from a leaky flapper valve. You can verify this by looking for water ripples in the toilet bowl.

Inspecting The Flush Valve

The first step should be to inspect the flush valve. If it feels hard and inflexible, then you have a very old flush valve, and it should be replaced. Is there any damage along the edges of the flush valve that may allow water through?

Also, if the flush valve is dirty (or the flush valve opening/ring) it will allow water to drain.

One easy way to diagnose a problem with the flush valve is to stick your hand in the toilet tank, and press down on the flush valve. When you press down, do you still see water ripples in the toilet bowl? If the water ripples stop when you press down on the flush valve, then the problem is that the flush valve isn’t sealing correctly.

Flush Valve Chain

Homeowners should pay close attention to the chain that connects to the flush valve. If the chain is too tight, then it will prevent the flush valve from being completely closed.

You need to have some slack in the chain so the flush valve seats properly. However, if you create too much slack in the chain, when you flush the toilet, not all of the water in the tank will drain leading to a poor flush.

Read Also: What Are The Best American Standard Toilets?

3. Drain Pipe

If when you flush the toilet, you hear a gurgling sound, it may be from a partially clogged drain. The easiest way to solve this problem is to use a toilet plunger.

If a simple toilet plunger doesn’t work, hiring a qualified plumber is recommended. Just be sure that the sound isn’t coming from the toilet tank itself.

4. Water Valve Vibrations

If when you flush the toilet, there is a loud vibration, it may be coming from the shutoff valve next to the toilet. There may be an air bubble trapped in the shutoff valve, which can cause a rapid and loud vibration.

The easiest way to remove the air bubble is to close the water valve, and then reopen it. If there is still a loud vibration, the next step would be to shutoff your entire homes water, drain all of the fixtures, and then turn back on the water.

You may need to consult a qualified plumber if draining your home’s water didn’t remove the air bubble — you may need to install a new shutoff valve.

Read Also: What Are The Best Bidet Toilet Seats?

5. Water Hammer

If after you flush, you hear a loud banging sound, it may be water hammer. Just be sure that this sound is coming from your pipes, not the toilet and not the water valve.

Water hammer is a type of hydraulic shock that forms with the rapid acceleration or deceleration of water. As you flush the toilet, water surges through the pipes and into the toilet, and suddenly stops when filled. Due to the configuration of your piping, the sudden stop or changing of direction may cause water hammer which rapidly vibrates or shakes the piping.

Probably the easiest way to fix water hammer is to install a water hammer arrester behind your toilet or in your bathroom. A water hammer arrester is a short section of pipe that allows the water to escape and relieves the pressure.

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Arie Van Tuijl

Arie Van Tuijl

I am a licensed home inspector in two U.S. states and the founder of Home Inspector Secrets. After performing hundreds of inspections, and seeing thousands of house defects, I realized people would love to have an online resource dedicated to home maintenance. I write detailed home guides and product reviews sprinkled with inspection tips. You can read my bio here.

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Home Inspector Secrets is an online resource for owners, buyers, and sellers to understand all aspects of home maintenance. We have detailed home guides, product reviews, inspection advice, and much more.