How to Adjust a Toilet Float

hand adjusting toilet float in tank
  • 1 hours
  • Beginner
  • 10
What You'll Need
Screwdriver
Towel or rag
Gloves
What You'll Need
Screwdriver
Towel or rag
Gloves

To get that perfect flush, you need a functioning toilet float. A toilet float is a little device that essentially allows your toilet bowl to fill with water without overflowing. Sometimes called a ballcock, this little device can get messed up from time to time and leave you with a crappy situation on your hands. If you can't seem to get the right amount of water in your toilet bowl (too much or too little) or the toilet sounds like it's constantly running, check your toilet float.

On occasion, your toilet float may need to be adjusted. Knowing how to adjust this float is relatively easy. Before you call a plumber or flood your bathroom, check your toilet float and see if you can adjust it yourself. It's a simple fix that could save you time, money, and a few headaches.

Step 1 - Remove Tank Cover

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Begin by removing your toilet tank cover—you know, the big cap that sits on the back of the toilet. Next, you're going to need to identify the float inside your tank. Everyone's toilets will look a little different inside, but as a general rule, toilet floats are easy to identify. Your toilet float should look like a ball floating on the water in your toilet tank. Or, if you have a newer toilet model, the float will appear as a plastic collar attached to a rod.

If you need a little extra help finding your toilet float, Google your specific toilet, and you'll likely find images or graphics that will help you identify the float.

Before you pull out the toolbelt and go full plumber, we do recommend that you turn off your toilet's water supply, just in case.

open toilet tank with float and valves

Step 2 - Adjust the Valve Screw

If your toilet is an older model, you will likely find the arm that is fastened to the water valve is held in place with a screw. If you want to adjust the float, you will need to loosen the screw. You can loosen this screw to adjust the float to the correct position with a screwdriver or a wrench. You will want to adjust the float higher or lower to change the water level in your bowl.

Adjusting the float higher allows more water to enter the bowl, while dropping it lower lets less in.

hand adjusting toilet valve screw with screwdriver

Step 3 – Bend the Float Arm

If your toilet doesn’t have a screw, very carefully bend the arm downward to increase tank water volume, upward to decrease water volume. You will need to apply light pressure. Too much pressure could break or damage the arm, and then you'd have a flood on your hands.

If you have a newer model toilet, you are in luck. Adjusting the toilet float is easy. All you need to do is compress the spring clip on the float collar. If you are a visual learner, a quick peruse of YouTube can quickly take you from plumbing novice to plumbing professional—in the realm of adjusting toilets with a spring clip, at least.

toilet float valve

Step 4 - Reassess

Once you've adjusted your toilet float, give it a flush and see if your problem has been solved. If you're still having issues, throw on another pair of latex gloves and get adjusting again. It may take a few tries to get it just right.

If your toilet is only partially flushing or if the water sounds like it is constantly running, adjusting the float should fix these problems as well.

Regardless of your problem, be patient with yourself and make little adjustments till you get the result you want. Especially if this is your first time on the Tour de Toilet, you're going to need to take it slow and concentrate on getting it right.

If you keep running into problems with your not-so-royal-flush, it may be time to replace your toilet. And if you feel like you can take on the entire toilet world after your quick fix, it may be time to install that bidet you've been eying up. And yes, toilet-taming master, it's totally DIY-able.

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