How To Adjust A Toilet Float Water Level To Stop Running?

Photo showing a toilet float and a person's hand showing how to adjust a toilet float.

If you are having an issue with a constantly running toilet, you may need to adjust your toilet float. Here’s how to adjust a toilet float and all you need to know about how to do that!

To adjust your toilet float, you’ll need to start with understanding what kind of toilet float you have. You’ll then need to cut off your toilet water supply and then flush your toilet to drain it of water. Take a look at the float valve. It should match the water line on the inside of the toilet tank. If it’s too low or too high, adjust it using a screwdriver. You can also use the release clip if that’s the kind of float that you have. Turn the water supply back on and fill the tank. Flush it and then refill.

If it’s still not high enough or too high, you can repeat the steps until you are happy with it. Below, we’ll go over that in more detail.

Toilet float types

As you read above, you’ll need to start with understanding what kind of toilet float you actually have. Whether you’ve got an older or a newer toilet, here is some information on the most common floats!

Ball an arm float

This is a classic toilet valve. It is a ball connected to the valve on a long metal rod. While it has been around for quite some time, this is still used in many toilets today because it’s so simple and functional!

A cylinder float

This is similar to a ball and an arm float. This has a shaft connected to a metal rod, controlling the float valve itself. On the end of the shaft is a plastic float cap that will control the shaft’s movement. This is considered more modern and is thought to be a bit more user-friendly!

Floatless fill valve

Some toilets have graduated to a true floatless valve, And that’s exactly what it sounds like. This uses a sensor to gauge its water level as opposed to anything manual. While it is modern and made using modern materials, professionals still prefer a cylinder float because the sensor isn’t always the most reliable, and it’s harder to fix!

What is the float arm in the toilet?

A float arm is a metal piece that connects the float to the rod (which is connected to the valve). The arm ensures that the float stays in the right spot to get a proper reading of the tank’s water level.

Where is the float in a toilet?

There’s no shame in asking this question! If you are wondering where the actual float is in your toilet, you probably know it’s in the tank itself! So, take the lid off (all the way off, versus just a peek) and get a good look at it. 

You’ll see something, well, floating in the water. This is your float valve! Some have them in the middle, but others are on either side (typically your right). 

The float, hanging on the arm, is secured by a rod, which directly connects to the valve itself. When the float drops below where it should, the valve opens, and water flows in. It closes again and stops the water flow when the rod is straight-on again. 

As you can guess, ensuring that the rod is at just the right level will be important! If you have reason to think that yours isn’t, this is your place to learn how to change that!

How do you adjust the height of a float? (6 Steps)

As introduced above, specific steps must be followed when looking to adjust the height of the toilet float. Here they are again in more detail to help guide you step-by-step!

  1. Learn what kind of toilet float you have
  2. Turn off the water supply
  3. Flush the toilet
  4. Inspect the float and the water line mark
  5. Adjust up or down
  6. Test and inspect

1. Learn what kind of toilet float you have

While they do tend to work similarly, as you will read, understanding what type of toilet float you have is a good starting point so that you can determine what tools you need, as well as match photos up with instructions! Using the explanation above, take a look at the options.

2. Turn off the water supply

The next thing you’ll need to do is turn off the water supply. Since the valve is automatically going to refill the water in the tank when it drops below the level needed, it will defeat the purpose of getting a detailed look at the tank and the valve’s pieces.

3. Flush the toilet

With the water supply turned off, flush the toilet. It should flush as usual, and then it will be dry in the tank as it refills the bowl. Wait until the water drains entirely before you adjust the float!

4. Inspect the float and the water line mark

Now that the tank is empty, you’ll want to closely inspect both the float and the water line mark on the inside of the tank. The float should be level with this line, and if it isn’t, then that’s where you’ll make your adjustment.

The water line mark is the point that the water should sit at. It’s considered the minimum and maximum. Water levels below or above are inefficient, potentially damaging to your toilet, and even dangerous!

5. Adjust up or down

Next is the adjustment. With the water line as your guide, you can adjust the height of the float so that it matches up perfectly. You’ll need either a screwdriver or your fingers to twist the clasp loose, depending on your float.

Loosen the screw by twisting counter-clockwise. Carefully push the arm down or up, depending on which way you want to adjust the float. Just remember to always match the water line marked on the inside of the tank. When you’ve got it in the right spot, tighten the screw by turning it clockwise. Don’t do it so tight that you can’t get it off again, or your strip the screw! After all, you might need to do another adjustment!

In the case of a clasp rather than a screw, press in on the clasp, and you’ll be able to move it up and down. Release it when you’re done. The usability of this clasp is why it was adopted in the newer models of toilet valves!

6. Test and inspect

Now that it’s adjusted, you’ll need to test it! Turn the water back on, and the tank will fill to the float’s instructed stopping point. Take a close look at where it stops. Then, flush it and watch it refill. This will give you the best sense of how the toilet will perform when you put the lid back on.

If you don’t like where it stops, you can repeat the process and test and inspect it until it gets to the point where you’re happy with the water levels.

how to adjust a toilet float 1

FAQ about toilet floats and valves

There are a lot of little details to understand when it comes to toilet floats and valves. Here are some of the most common questions that people face:

  • Why is my toilet running every 5 minutes?
  • How do I stop my toilet from running intermittently?
  • Why does my toilet float stick?
  • What happens if the float level is too high?
  • What happens if my float level is too low?
  • Why is my toilet float not stopping water?

Why is my toilet running every 5 minutes?

This is most common if the toilet tank is leaking water. The toilet bowl’s water is preset, so as it drains out, the tank will refill it, and then you’ve got water running into the tank again. Sometimes it could be a float that isn’t resetting properly, too. That’s why people will tell you to “jiggle the handle.” 

How do I stop my toilet from running intermittently?

Like above, you’ll want to “jiggle the handle” and then check the valve in your toilet. If it’s not totally sealed, it won’t be sensing things properly, which can mean that your toilet will run at random intervals even when it’s not used. This is referred to as a “ghost flush” for obvious reasons.

Why does my toilet float stick?

This is common in toilets with a lot of build-up from calcium and other mineral deposits. Or a toilet that is older and perhaps in rough shape. A simple replacement of the toilet float’s parts can help fix the problem. You also run through a chemical product to break down the deposits in your toilet tank!

What happens if my float level is too high?

If your float level is really high, you’ll be over the maximum water line, and you’ll deal with spills of water all over your bathroom floor! If you pay for your water, you’ll also notice an increase in your water bill, as it will need to bring in more water to fill it!

The excess water can also put more wear and tear on your toilet, as its machinery will have to process more water, leading to more movement of your toilet’s pieces!

What happens if my float level is too low?

Many people thought that setting the water level low would help conserve energy and water. This is correct, of course, but it will put extra stress on your toilet. Seems strange considering that it’s less water, right? It’s true, though. 

You’ll also notice more “partial flushes” where you go to wash down a load in the toilet, and it won’t flush all the way. 

We think it makes more sense now why it’s so important to match that maximum fill water line on your toilet!

Why is my toilet float not stopping water?

If you notice that the toilet float doesn’t appear to be in communication with the valve of your toilet, and your toilet is continually filling with water, you will most likely be dealing with a leaking toilet valve! Since it gets a lot of use, it wears out pretty easily. It’s common to replace your valve when you need to, and a plumber can do that without a problem. 

You can also see if our float is in good shape, too. If there is a rip or a crack in the float itself, it could fill with water, which can impact your float and valve’s reliability!

In general

After you figure out what kind of toilet valve you have, you’ll want to shut off your water access to your toilet and then flush the toilet to drain the tank. Adjust the float so it’s even with the water line mark on the inside of the tank. No lower and no higher. Otherwise, your toilet won’t be very efficient. Turn the water supply back and test by filling the tank and flushing the toilet.

Adjusting your toilet valve doesn’t have to be hard work. You can do it yourself by understanding how it works, how to adjust it, and then understanding where the right level is for maximum efficiency of your toilet itself!

Rosa Peterson

Rose is the writer and creator of Better That Home, a blog about home design and decor. Rose has been designing spaces for over 10 years and writing home design and decor for big publishers. She has been inspired by many other creatives from around the world and loves to share those inspirations with her readers. Read more about Rose here