When you push the flush handle on your toilet, many different processes happen simultaneously to remove your waste and fill your toilet with clean water. A critical component in this process is your toilet’s fill valve. For many Boston homeowners, the toilet fill valve can be kind of intimidating because they don’t know much about what it is or how it works. Fortunately, toilet fill valves are one of the more simple mechanical components in your home and are easy to maintain and repair. Check out this basic information from Blue Bear Plumbing to make sure your toilet keeps flushing freely.

What Is a Fill Valve?

If you’ve ever taken the top off of your toilet tank, you’ve likely seen the fill valve. Most fill valves look like a small pipe with two areas of larger diameter. Fill valves stand vertically in a toilet’s tank, and the top of the valve sits just below the top lip of the tank. The bottom of the fill valve connects directly to the water inlet on the tank. This inlet, in turn, is connected to the cold water supply line that comes into the bathroom. Important parts of the fill valve are the water level adjustment control and the float. In some cases, the float may be separate from the fill valve but still performs the function of making sure that the water cuts off when the toilet’s tank is full.

How Does It Work?

When you begin the flush process, all of the water in the tank runs into the bowl through the flush valve. This causes the float attached to the fill valve to fall. When the float falls, it opens the stopper on the fill valve. This allows water from the supply line to enter the tank. As the water level begins to rise, the float, made from buoyant material, rises as well. When the float reaches a preset point, it closes the stopper on the fill valve and stops the flow of water into the tank. At this point, your toilet is ready for another flush.

Are Fill Valves Universal?

Given the wide variety of toilets on the market, it’s natural to wonder if there are also a variety of fill valves. Fortunately, most of the fill valves that Blue Bear Plumbing installs are all exactly the same. To maintain consistent water pressure and ensure proper flushing, most toilets use one of only a handful of different fill valves. It’s important to note, though, that on high-end toilets, you may come across different fill valves. That’s because these types of toilets often have unique flushing components so that they can have more flushing power using less water. For the average home toilet, though, you can go to your local hardware store and select an inexpensive universal fill valve regardless of what the outside of your toilet looks like.

Leaking Fill Valve

One of the problems you may encounter with a toilet fill valve is leaks. Most often, leaks are caused by a worn-out gasket underneath the water-level adjustment screw. When a fill valve leaks, extra water will enter the tank. The good thing is that the tank won’t overflow because every toilet has an overflow valve that diverts excess water to the bowl. However, since the excess water has a place to go, a leaking fill valve can continue to leak largely undetected for quite a long time. If you ever receive a higher-than-expected water bill, Blue Bear Plumbing recommends that you check your fill valve for leaks to see if this component could be the culprit.

Maintaining a Fill Valve

Over time, you may experience a diminished performance from your fill valve. This can cause slower tank refills, ghost flushes, and other plumbing problems. One great way to help prevent these issues is to maintain your fill valve by keeping it clean. In some cases, mineral deposits will collect at the top of the valve, leading to the diminished performance you’re experiencing. To correct this condition, Blue Bear Plumbing recommends that you remove the cap from the fill valve after turning off the water. Next, while holding a cup over the top of the fill valve, turn the water back on. Water will squirt out of the fill valve at a high rate. As it hits the cup, the water will squirt back into the top of the fill valve and remove any mineral deposits.

Different Kinds of Valves

While a basic universal fill valve will suit most needs, there is another type of fill valve that you should know about. This type of fill valve allows you to select the amount of water that flows into your toilet’s tank. While you can control the water level to a certain extent by changing the level of the float, an adjustable fill valve offers more control. This is especially helpful if you have an older toilet that uses more than 1.6 gallons per flush. You can dial back the amount of water your toilet uses per flush to help reduce your water bills and conserve precious water resources.

Adjusting Your Valve

Even if you have a standard fill valve, you’ll want to take time to properly dial it in to ensure your toilet flushes as designed. To do this, you’ll need to control the level at which the float stops the flow of water into the tank. Most fill valves use a small spinning dial that adjusts the height of the float on the valve. When the float is higher, more water will enter the tank. This can be helpful if you’re having trouble evacuating all of the waste from the bowl with one flush. For an existing toilet, all you need to do is adjust the float so that the water level matches the line where the color of the inside of the tank changes.

Replacing a Valve

On occasion, you may need to replace your toilet’s fill valve. While the pros at Blue Bear Plumbing are happy to help, this is a task that most homeowners will be able to tackle themselves. Before you begin, you’ll want to make sure to turn off the water supply to your toilet. Then, you’ll need to remove the water supply line from the outside of the tank. Next, disconnect the fill tube from the fill valve as well as the float arm if it’s a separate component. Finally, you’ll need to unscrew the old fill valve and remove it from the tank. Simply reverse the process to install the new valve.

Taking Care of All Your Plumbing Needs

At Blue Bear Plumbing, we take pride in helping our customers with tasks both big and small around their homes. We can take care of plumbing tasks, including toilet installation, drain cleaning, and pipe repair from Boston to Cape Cod. We also offer a full slate of HVAC services, including furnace repair, air conditioner maintenance, thermostat installation, and much more. Our customers consistently leave us five-star reviews to thank us for the great service they receive. If you want to learn more about taking care of your toilet, installing a new HVAC system, or anything else related to home maintenance, just give us a call at Blue Bear Plumbing.

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