Ghost Flushing Explained

If you’ve ever heard the sound of a flushing toilet when no one else is around, it may have been something commonly referred to as ghost flushing. The phenomenon is a common occurrence in most homes. It has happened to me, and I’m sure many of you have experienced it, too! While the sound of a toilet flushing on its own can be unnerving, there are usually straightforward explanations for why it is happening.

Check The Flapper

If you hear the sound of water running in your toilet long after flushing, it is likely because the toilet’s float (also known as a flapper) is broken. A leaky flapper can cause your toilet to continue running long after you’ve flushed it, gradually raising your water bill without warning. To test for a defective flapper, pour colored food dye into the toilet’s water tank. After an hour or two, check to see if the water in the tank is still colored. If it is, then your flapper isn’t to blame for slow draining plumbing. Alternatively, if the food dye no longer flows into the bowl when you flush, that means your flapper is leaking. If you’re unable to fix your flapper, it’s time to replace it. You can find replacement parts in any hardware store or home center. Before replacing the flapper, however, make sure that your toilet’s fill valve is working properly by turning off its water supply and plugging the hole in the tank with a rag or sponge. Push down on the handle and try flushing again—if water flows into the bowl as usual then you know there’s no problem with your fill valve.

Faulty Handle

A common cause of ghost flushing is that the chain for your toilet’s handle is too short, causing it to fall back into place when you let go. This often happens when replacing your toilet’s chain. A short chain can also cause the handle to not correctly control the seal of your flapper, causing your water to run randomly throughout the day. To fix this problem, you need to get a chain that is longer than the one currently on your toilet’s flapper.

When Should I Hire a Plumber?

If your flapper and chain are not the cause of your phantom flush, then you might have a problem with the fill tubes (the pipes inside the toilet tank that fill it). If a refill tube is not properly positioned, leaks can occur and result in repeated flushing as well as structural damage to the tube. If you find water near your toilet, or if there’s a leak from the tank onto the floor, call us as soon as possible. A broken seal or bolt on the toilet can cause a lot more problems than just a tiny puddle around it, so you should have your bathroom inspected by a plumber as soon as you can.

At Conyers Plumbing, our professional plumbers can determine the cause of a toilet that keeps running long after it has been flushed. If you notice that your toilet is leaking or flushing poorly, contact us for help. Or if you just want to plan ahead for routine maintenance with one of our plumbing experts, give us a ring!