The Reason Why Toilets Ghost Flush
A ghost flush. A phantom flush. Is it real? Is your house haunted? Perhaps it is a rare bathroom – urban or rural – legend? If it happens in your home, should you get it checked? Should you get yourself checked?
It’s late, and dark, and everything is quiet. Maybe you’re home alone during the day, and you’re sure you’re alone. You hear a flush. It could be worrying, creepy or just humorous. Did the cat learn to use the toilet? Maybe it’s paranormal. You have a ghost flush. It could be a sign of a real plumbing problem. There’s no need to freak out more.
It Really could be Ghost Flushing
Ghost flushing happens, yes, for real, when the toilet tank is leaking, the water level drops until it refills. Out of nowhere, you hear the sound of water running back into the tank. It sounds like a flush. This is the ghost or phantom flush.
If it goes untreated for long, the ghost flushing can go from very rare, to every few hours to a few minutes. You can wind up using thousands of gallons of water, and paying for the wasted water.
Usually, ghost flushing takes place due to the fact water is slowly draining from pipes out of the tank because of a damaged flapper. This triggers the float to fall, causing the water to fill the tank. A loose fill tube, a worn or misplaced float ball or an issue with a chain in the tank could all cause ghosts and phantoms, too.
A slow leak can grow over time. If left too long, the funny ghost using your bathroom can become a larger leak, more wear on the whole toilet, a mess on the floor or a big water bill.
DIY for Ghost Flushing
Finding the ghost and fixing the toilet could be a DIY job. If you want to tackle it yourself, here are some possible answers.
- The Dye Test
An easy way to see if you have ghost flushing is to perform a food dye test. Drop a few drops of food dye into your toilet tank. Wait about 30 minutes. If you see the color in the bowl after half an hour, you have a leaking tank on your hands.
- Check the Chain
The problem might be caused by a short or broken chain. If you just recently replaced or reattached the chain, it may be making the flapper open prematurely or have a poor seal. You may need to loosen, tighten or replace the chain and the flapper itself is fine.
- Fixing the Flapper
Most of the time, the flapper is the true ghost causing the headache. Replacing the flapper is a moderate-level DIY project. This could be the point to call a pro. If moving ahead on your own, start by turning off the water supply before going into the tank and removing the old flapper. Clean it and cover it with plastic. Take it to a hardware store and get an exact replacement. Before putting in the new flapper, clean any sludge or gunk in the tank, especially near the flapper or anywhere it’ll touch. It’s a good time to clean the insides of the toilet and it will make sealing the new flapper better.
- Fixing a Flush Valve
To check this, turn off the water, remove the lid and see the water level in the tank. Check it again in about 30 minutes. If the water is lower, you might have to look at the flush valve seal. This is a higher level DIY job. The best option here is to contact a licensed, expert plumber and get it fixed.
A Hissing Toilet
You might not have paranormal flushing in your bathroom. A hissing toilet, though, is another sign of something wrong, likely with a valve and a leak, which could be wasting water and money.
The main cause of a hissing toilet is air or water moving through a waterline. If it’s water, it should be a simpler issue to fix as it’s primarily caused by a problem with the refill valve. This valve controls the amount of water in the tank after a flush. A faulty valve means you’ll get too much or too little water. If there’s isn’t enough water, you’ll get hissing with each flush.
You can adjust the water level by adjusting the valve. According to the type of refill valve you have, you can fix this. With an old toilet, the tank might have a round float inside. Newer toilets use a marked wheel which can be turned to be adjusted. After changing it, make sure water does not go down the overflow pipe.
If the water level is right but the hissing sound is still there, you should check for any clogs. If you can’t see or treat this on your own, it’s likely time to call a plumber.
Get Help for a Phantom Flushing Toilet
If your toilet seems to be haunted by ghost flushing but you can’t discover the source of the trouble, the best step is to look at your water bill. If it’s surprisingly higher, there’s a good chance you have a toilet leak. You’ll want to call a plumber. Just because you can’t see a toilet leak or another problem, doesn’t mean it’s not there. Such a problem could become worse over time. It could become more expensive. It will likely cost less money for the plumbing service than continuing to pay higher water bills.
South End Plumbing specializes in toilets, leaks and detecting problems, so remember, we are just a click away. We also specialize in leak detection – give us a call! South End Plumbing is one of the only companies that will give you a free estimate. Call us at 704-919-1722 or fill out the form online to schedule a visit.