Toilet flushing by itself

Why does my toilet seem to flush by itself...what do I do to stop this?
  44 answers
  • Steve Boccalatte Steve Boccalatte on Sep 04, 2016
    I can think of many reasons but most of them would be impossible. Thanks for a good laugh. LOL.

  • Jane Hildebrandt Jane Hildebrandt on Sep 04, 2016
    Replace the ball at the bottom of the tank that closes the drain. I can't remember what it is called but it has the chain that goes to the flush handle.

  • Melody McSweeney Melody McSweeney on Sep 04, 2016
    You need a new "clapper" sold in all hardware stores.

  • Maxine Richard Engler Maxine Richard Engler on Sep 04, 2016
    It's flapper and yes you need a new flapper valve. Also make sure the chain to which it's connected has enough slack for the flapper valve to close properly.

  • D roach D roach on Sep 04, 2016
    we have a similar problem, the button sometimes gets stuck and the toilet continues to fill, causing it to empty into the toilet. just make sure the button is popping up properly when you flush.

  • FRED RIGGS FRED RIGGS on Sep 04, 2016
    The flapper valve in the bottom of the tank is worn out, has small grit that keeps it from closing completely. The water slowly seeps out, to the point that the toilet thinks it was flushed and starts to refill. I, would change the whole flush system, parts are available anywhere, not expensive, and comes in a complete kit with all you need. Just make sure the flapper is the same size as what you have. Newer toilets have larger flapper valves than the others. Take it with you, when you visit your friendly hardware guy. That way, he is on the same page with you and no running back and forth.

  • Coolfurniturelady Coolfurniturelady on Sep 04, 2016
    Or sometimes the chain gets kinked, leaving the flapper open. Check that first.

  • DORLIS DORLIS on Sep 04, 2016
    I have a truly unique problem - my cat has learned to flush the toilet. It kept flushing, especially during the night. investigated one night and found Harley sitting on the seat and pushing the handle down. He has since become b ored with this and I no longer have the problem.

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    • DORLIS DORLIS on Sep 04, 2016
      It might help to get a water fountain that recirculates the water and to add ice cubes, they like to watch them bounce around. I got my second fountain from Amazon. It is much cheaper, only around 40.00

  • Andrea Kane Andrea Kane on Sep 04, 2016
    I agree with everyone, it is the flapper. However, I have run into the problem that the flapper just needs to be cleaned. Sometimes algae forms on the rubber flapper and the seat causing just enough space for the water to seep into the bowl causing constant flushing.

  • Sophia,M.,McConnery Sophia,M.,McConnery on Sep 04, 2016
    All the other suggestions here are what I thought was wrong,but alas it was not.There is a pipe that runs under your floor in the bathroom.That is what was the culprit in my case.This pipe had a small crack.This has to be done by a plumber!

  • Deanna Nassar Deanna Nassar on Sep 04, 2016
    Flapper ball is problem. May as well replace the float too while in there. You can get both parts, usually as a set in any hardware place. Cut water at the wall and flush most of the water. With the right size wrench(try adjustable) loosen fill tube from bottom of tank, be prepared for leakage with towel on the floor. Part inside tank is the float. Most new ones have float that moves up and down instead of the old arm and ball. Re attach the fill line to new float. The flapper is simply pull up the tube to take out. Install new one by pushing it down the overflow tube into position. Instructions for adjusting float should be on back of package. Turn water back on slow to check for leaks and tighten as needed. Turn up for more water and watch as it fills. You should set float so water cuts off 1/4 to 1/2 inch below overflow tube top. Do a couple test flushes. If all runs well you're done. I just needed minor adjustments to float and flapper placement.

  • Phil a Phil a on Sep 04, 2016
    This is a long reply, and explains why this happens, so please read through. As a handyman, I see this quite often. It's called "ghost flushing" (as if a ghost came in and flushed your toilet) and is the result of water leaking out of the tank into the bowl. Once the water level in the tank goes low enough, the float valve will react to raise the level back to normal by running for a few seconds. The only way for water to get out of the tank is either leaking through a crack in the tank or through loose tank to bowl connector bolts (you would see a puddle on the floor) or through the main flush outlet. That could be caused by a flapper that isn't sealing correctly (maybe it's warped, hardened by chemicals in the tank, doesn't quite reach all the way across the drain hole being held up by too tight a pull chain keeping the flapper from sealing correctly or falling down off-center and not quite directly over the hole ) or the overflow/bowl fill tube to tank is not sealed correctly. If you look into the bowl with a fairly bright overhead light shining into the bowl, the surface of the water should be absolutely still. If there is a leak, even a very tiny one, you will see ripples in the water. So what I do is check the flapper, first. I press down on it lightly with a stick to see if the ripples stop. There are 2 kinds of "flappers", the kind that looks like a saucer with arms and has a chain attached to it and the "cup" type that looks like an upside down cup with an arm above that the flush rod pulls on to open the tank drain. If the saucer type, I replace it with (my preference) a Fluidmaster flapper with the hard plastic arms. The hard plastic arms ensure the flapper lands squarely and consistently over the drain hole. If the cup type, I replace the rubber seal ring at the bottom of the cup. Go online to YouTube and do a search for how to replace it for your type of cup type toilet. If that doesn't work, the problem points to the overflow/bowl fill tube seal. To replace that, you need to remove the tank from the bowl and replace the overflow tube, the foam tank to bowl seal and the tank to bowl mounting bolts. There are whole kits available that have everything you might need to do a complete job, including replacing the float valve. A toilet is really a simple device but it involves water and water will always find a way to get out of a container if there is even the slightest opportunity to do so. Now you have to decide if you are going to repair it yourself or pay someone to do it. The parts are less than $40. If you're handy, you can do it in less than an hour. To pay a plumber would be in the $80 to $120 range, depending on your area rates. If your current toilet is not a low usage toilet, you might consider modernizing. If there is enough room above the toilet (36 inches above floor), I prefer the single flush (easier to repair and get parts for and tank lid can be used as "shelf" unlike the dual-flush toilets) and chair height (easier on old legs) and elongated bowl. Home Depot has such a model for typically less than $100 which I've installed many times and have had no issues with. If you do replace the toilet, make sure you use an Extra Thick Reinforced Wax Ring which will make up for any large gap caused by new tile floor. Good luck. Let us know what you find.

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    • Phil a Phil a on Sep 04, 2016
      Whether you push a handle or swipe your hand in front of a sensor to lift the flapper, the problem is still the same. Water is slowly leaking out of the tank. If it's a one piece Kohler, the main drain sits sideways facing front. If a normal 2 piece toilet, it's as mentioned, either the flapper, the cup seal or the overflow to tank seal. Troubleshoot as previously mentioned. Check for ripples, put extra pressure on the flapper to see if the water ripples stop. If they do, check the edge of the drain hole for any rough edges and the flapper for any debris or damage. Go from there. If you hied someone else to install the toilet, call them back to fix it. If you installed it, it's up to you.

  • Anne Anne on Sep 04, 2016
    I believe this is referred to as "ghost flushing" and agree with the others that it is typically caused by a faulty flapper. You can sometimes see the water slowly leaking into the bowl because the flapper is not seated properly. A test for this would be to put a few drops of blue food coloring inside the tank and wait a little bit without flushing. Check inside your bowl. If the blue water has leaked inside the bowl, it is your flapper. It's usually easy to remove the flapper on most models. Some more difficult than others but definitely take the old one with you when looking for a replacement. This should resolve your problem. Another said the chain was kinked which I have also had but this doesn't necessarily cause the ghost flush. Mine just basically kept filling with water and never shutting off because the flapper was open. To resolve this I just jiggle the handle when I flush.

    • Kathy Bitzan Kathy Bitzan on Sep 04, 2016
      So true, I just replaced mine and it was doing the same thing... now I know why. thanks.

  • Rhonda S Rhonda S on Sep 04, 2016
    Another aspect to check before you call in a pro...We have very hard water and live in a dry climate. When we are away or in the less-used bathroom, we have had lime deposits build up on the mechanisms that control the float valve. As a result, the float was held artificially low, as if the tank were not full. The toilet "thought" it had to add more water to the tank, and it just ran all the time. Cleaning the bar the float slides up and down may help.

  • Nancyperdue Nancyperdue on Sep 04, 2016
    slow leak in tank under flap. check it out. hope this helps nancy-Gila Bend, Arizona

  • Johnchip Johnchip on Sep 04, 2016
    You have pooping poltergeist...;) or you need to replace the flapper system as it is leaking.

  • Phil a Phil a on Sep 04, 2016
    Whether you push a handle or swipe your hand in front of a sensor to lift the flapper, the problem is still the same. Water is slowly leaking out of the tank. If it's a one piece Kohler, the main drain sits sideways facing front. If a normal 2 piece toilet, it's as mentioned, either the flapper, the cup seal or the overflow to tank seal. Troubleshoot as previously mentioned. Check for ripples, put extra pressure on the flapper to see if the water ripples stop. If they do, check the edge of the drain hole for any rough edges and the flapper for any debris or damage. Go from there. If you hied someone else to install the toilet, call them back to fix it. If you installed it, it's up to you.

  • Mur7677735 Mur7677735 on Sep 04, 2016
    Put a drop of food color in the tank and you can see it coming into the bowl showing you that it is indeed the flapper.

  • Tan1781564 Tan1781564 on Sep 04, 2016
    Sounds like the corky flapper just fixed my daughters toilet in a few minutes for $3.58

  • Renee Renee on Sep 04, 2016
    The float is rising to high when the tank fills up. That causes the toilet to flush as if you were raining the handle on the toilet front. Raise the float so when the water rises to the top, the chain from the float to the seal has some slack left. (You can bend the arm that holds the float OR adjust the chain.) If you open the tank and watch what happens when YOU flush it, my description will make more sense.

  • B J  Alexis B J Alexis on Sep 04, 2016
    Its called a "ghost flush"--not because a ghost is flushing it, but because it seems to run by itself. As mentioned the flapper is not completely closing, try pushing the toilet handle UP, to help push the flapper down, which sometimes helps.

  • J747725427 J747725427 on Sep 04, 2016
    Replace flapper. If that doesn't work replace valve kit

  • Pap8951074 Pap8951074 on Sep 04, 2016
    I called mine the "phantom flusher". Mine was caused by a worn out seal at the bottom of the water tank. Cost about 3 dollars. Make sure you seat it completely down and all round.

  • Margaret Westervelt Margaret Westervelt on Sep 04, 2016
    Open the top of the tank. Put several drops of food color into the tank water. Wait a few minutes without flushing. If the food color shows up in the bowl replace the flapper. Examine the float ball ( old style ) is it cracked ? Replace the ball and arm. If it's the new style ( round disk like float) make sure it's not filled with water. Normally there is a clip under this type of float, lower the clip so less water is in the tank.

  • Bernadette Staal Bernadette Staal on Sep 04, 2016
    Simple answer to any plumbing problems - call a plumber.

  • Faith Rosborough Faith Rosborough on Sep 04, 2016

  • Hbet Hbet on Sep 04, 2016
    Bernadette Staal; less experienced plumbers are likely to try ineffective procedures. Having had rental property I had to learn to save $$$$$$$. J740ek's answer is most helpful. A place that I volunteer had same problem. I was sad that the first 3 plummer calls did not take care of it. Other whose office was near that bathroom had me on hand to talk to plumber the 4th time he was called.

  • JEWEL C JEWEL C on Sep 04, 2016
    Go to your water Dept. they can give you a brochure with pictures on how to fix it. I retired from a water dept . and we did it all the time.

  • Jud7872415 Jud7872415 on Sep 04, 2016
    Remove the tank lid, be sure to put it on a flat surface so it doesn't get broken, then flush. There is a valve on a chain that connects the toilet handle and a valve on the bottom of the tank. If your toilet is emptying without a flush the valve on the bottom of the tank may be leaking. You can try adjusting the chain but you may need to replace the valve. If you need to replace the valve go to any hardware store to buy one then follow the instructions. It might take five minutes.

  • Carma Schroeter- Birks Carma Schroeter- Birks on Sep 04, 2016
    Or if there is grit around the rubber seal, it will keep leaking. Put food coloring in the tank and leave it. Don't flush. The colored water will come up into the stool if there is a "silent" leak.

  • David Sherman David Sherman on Sep 04, 2016
    the seal aroun the flapper ball and the toilet is broken. simple fix. replace the flapper ball first. If it still happens, then the connecting fitting will need to be replaced....still simple but takes a modicum of plumbing knowledge...

  • Suzette Larson Suzette Larson on Sep 04, 2016

  • Bonnie D Bonnie D on Sep 04, 2016
    Fix the leak.

  • Crystal Meyer Griffith Crystal Meyer Griffith on Sep 04, 2016
    Sometimes even a new flapper/flush mechanism doesn't like to seat itself properly, particularly if the toilet is old (mine was new in '73). I found that running a piece of emery cloth (wet sanding) around the rim that the flapper is to sit on will remove any deposits on the rim. A pumice stone will work as well. I usually try this before I buy anything. If it doesn't work then get a new flapper.

  • Dia10193361 Dia10193361 on Sep 05, 2016
    I disabled it by using a wire coat hanger to stop it from flushing.

  • Patti Patti on Sep 05, 2016
    Call Ghost Busters! Sorry, just having fun. Actually, I never heard of a toilet flushing g by itself.

  • Susan Susan on Sep 05, 2016
    Take the tank lid off and flush the toilet while observing the flapper. It should raise then return to the bottom. If it doesn't seal replace it. Can typically get a flapper & float kit for under $15. In the meantime there should be a shut off near the vase of the toilet you can shut off the water in between uses.

  • Jay Jay on Sep 05, 2016
    The toilet is not flushing itself, It is just replacing the water that has been lost due to a leaking flapper valve. Just replace the flapper and that should take care of the problem.

  • Phil Phil on Sep 05, 2016
    Need a new flush valve

  • Marian Dove Marian Dove on Sep 05, 2016
    water is running out making it to flush , add a new flapper you can get it at Walmart,,

  • M E M E on Sep 05, 2016
    Replaced all the contents of my tank, except the flapper. I thought that would solve the problem. It didn't. All I needed was to replace the flapper. I bought one from Lowes. It was a universal fit. Very easy to fix. Problem solved.

  • Sandra Hahn Sandra Hahn on Sep 06, 2016
    can I borrow it? lol

  • Steve Boccalatte Steve Boccalatte on Sep 07, 2016
    This has been the best ever post. Thanks for describing the funniest toilet issue and to all the responders for their take on this funny situation. The answer is easy really. It is usually the rubber seal at the bottom of the piston that requires least that is what we call it here in Australia.