Beware the Phantom Flush!
Ever hear a flushing sound coming from your toilet, even though there’s no one in the bathroom? You’re not going crazy—this phenomenon is known as “ghost flushing” or "phantom toilet flush." First thing’s first, no, we’re not talking about a literal ghost flushing your toilet. This phenomenon occurs when a slow leak occurs in the toilet tank or bowl, causing the water level to drop to the point where the float (the water filling device in the back of the toilet) automatically refills the tank.
As haunting as ghost flushing can be, you can take care of it pretty easily most of the time. Just follow the proper steps, and if the problem continues, call our experienced professionals at Carter Quality Plumbing. We’ll help you get rid of that toilet spirit and bring peace to your bathroom once again.
What to Do If Your Toilet Is Flushing By Itself:
- Check for Internal Leaks: The first step to stopping your toilet’s ghost flushing issue is to determine the source of the leak. If there is no water pooling around your flow, it is often the toilet flapper that’s the source of your problem. To check the functionality of this component, just perform a simple dye test. Put a few drops of food coloring in your toilet tank, let it sit for 30 minutes, and if that same color is still there half an hour later, you will know that the flapper is causing the internal leak. Make sure the flapper is clean and working properly with the toilet chain. If the problem persists after that, you will probably need to replace the flapper altogether. You should also check the refill tube, which is usually located to the right of the overflow pipe. Reattach the refill tube to the overflow pipe, and if the problem persists from there, swap out the entire flush valve.
- Check for External Leaks: If you find water pooling at the base of your toilet bowl, then your ghost flushing problem can likely be traced back to an external leak. After you have mopped up all puddles around your toilet, check for cracks in the bowl. You may also be dealing with a loose supply valve or a broken shutoff valve. Make sure that the connections of these components are tight, as loose valves are a common cause of toilet leaks. You should make sure your toilet is properly bolted to the floor, too, and see if the wax gasket for your toilet is still in place. You can replace wax gaskets when they get worn down, and it is also fairly easy to swap out corroded valves. However, if your toilet bowl is cracked, you will likely have to install a whole new unit. You will also want to look at the bottom of the toilet tank. To check this, you will need to remove the rubber gasket connecting the tank to the bowl. Once you have put in a new one, the phantom flush should stop (but again, it if does not, you may need to call a professional plumber for a replacement.)
- Check Your Water Bill: If your toilet seems to be ghost flushing but you can’t find the source of the problem, the best thing to do is to check your water bill. If there has been a sudden increase in costs, and you have not changed your habits specifically, then there is a very good chance that a toilet leak is causing your problem. This is another scenario where you should call a plumber. Just because you cannot see a toilet leak does not mean it isn’t there, and ultimately, it’s usually more cost-efficient to simply have your toilet serviced than to keep wasting money because of a water leak.