Plumbing: Why Would A Toilet Flush By Itself?

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Plumbing: Why Would A Toilet Flush By Itself?

Have you ever been sitting alone in your Waterford, MI or Oxford, MI home when suddenly you hear the toilet flush…AND THERE’S NO ONE ELSE IN THE HOUSE? Talk about spooky! Kotz Heating, Cooling & Plumbing assures you there’s no reason to call the Ghostbusters just yet.

Ghost Flushing

When that happens, it’s called ghost flushing but it’s really not a mystery about why it happens. First let’s look at the two main components of the toilet:

  • Tank—A valve inside the tank is connected to the home’s water supply allowing the tank to fill to a certain level. As the name implies, the tank holds water until the flush happens. 
  • Bowl—A certain amount of water is trapped in the bowl to capture the waste. The water level in the bowl should remain constant.

The Anatomy of the Flush

When you pull the flush handle on the toilet, water from the tank rushes into the bowl. The weight of the water forces the water in the bowl, and the waste material, into the drain. As the tank refills the water in the toilet bowl returns to the normal level.

What Can Go Wrong

When the toilet isn’t being flushed, a “flapper” seals the tank and prevents water from leaking into the bowl. Ghost flushing is often caused when the flapper no longer seals tightly and water leaks into the toilet bowl. Eventually the leak raises the water level in the bowl to the level that causes a flush to happen spontaneously.

Usually Easy to Fix

The good news is that on the gamut of plumbing problems, a leaking toilet is pretty minor and easily fixed. Many homeowners are very capable of replacing a flapper or even the fill valve in the tank. Here are a couple other signs your toilet has a leak:

  • When you look in the toilet bowl the water appears to ripple even when the toilet hasn’t been flushed.
  • You can hear a hissing sound in the toilet, usually sounding like it’s coming from the tank.

Still not sure? Then use the tried-and-true food coloring test. Put a few drops of your favorite color in the toilet tank. Wait for a half hour and if the water in the bowl changes color, then you have a leaking tank.

When to Call For Help

If you haven’t been able to fix a leaking toilet don’t hesitate to call for plumbing help. The leak can waste a huge amount of water and cost you hundreds of dollars over the course of a year. Kotz Heating, Cooling & Plumbing is always ready to help, so don’t hesitate to make an appointment to discuss your plumbing with an expert.