As long as you have the right tools and know-how, replacing your toilet’s fill valve is a simple DIY task you can do in a few easy steps without taking the trouble and cost of calling in a plumber.
Below is the procedure to follow when replacing a toilet fill valve. In addition, find the most common frequently asked questions when changing a fill valve.
Toilet Fill Valve Replacement Steps
If the toilet already has an existing fill valve whose base is already in a good condition, you can replace it by following the steps below:
- Turn off the toilet’s water supply to prevent any more water from coming into the tank. You can easily locate the water supply shut-off valve by following up the supply pipe till you find it.
- Remove the tank lid then flush the toilet to drain as much water as you can out of the tank. The tank shouldn’t fill up again if you shut off the water supply properly.
- Dry the remaining water off the bottom of the tank using a sponge or you can improvise using any water absorbent piece of unused cloth or an old towel.
- Reach the base of the fill valve and pull up the lock ring, to remove the refill tube then slide the old fill valve off its base.
- Install the new fill valve by simply removing the base that came with it and slide it into the existing base in the toilet tank.
- Reach behind the fill valve and snap the lock ring down into place and then attach the refill tube to the overflow tube and adjust the new fill valve for optimum water level.
If the fill valve base in the toilet is not in good condition then, replace the entire unit by following the first three steps above as when the base is already in good condition then follow the steps illustrated below:
- Turn off the toilet’s water supply valve by rotating it clockwise till firm, to prevent any flow of water from the source into the tank. You can easily locate the water supply shut-off valve by following up the supply pipe till you come across it. In most cases, it is fitted on the wall just behind the tank.
- Remove the tank lid then flush the toilet to drain as much water as you can out of the tank. The tank should not fill up again if you shut off the water supply properly.
- Detach the water supply hose from the base of the tank while placing a bucket under it to catch the remaining water. Dry any remaining water off the bottom of the tank using a sponge or you can improvise using any water absorbent piece of unused cloth or an old towel.
- Unscrew the lock nut located on the shank of the fill valve with an adjustable wrench or rib joint pliers and with the nut removed, you can easily pull out the entire assembly out of the tank. While unscrewing the lock nut, you might need to grip the bottom of the fill valve by hand or use another set of pliers to prevent it from rotating together with the lock nut.
- With the old assembly removed, take the new fill valve unit and adjust the height to best suit the height of the tank and the overflow tube, usually preferably 1 inch below the tank’s edge.
- Insert the threaded end of the fill valve into the hole where the previous unit was removed and position the new assembly in then close the lock nut by hand, securing the tube upright while ensuring that the body of the fill valve does not rotate to or change position.
- Once hand tight, tighten the nut a quarter turn further or as necessary, using the joint pliers or wrench to ensure a watertight seal then reattach the water supply hose to the fill valve shank. All along make sure not to damage the rubber or silicone washers to avoid later leakages.
- Place the fill valve’s refill tube into the overflow tube and ensure that the end of the refill tube does not exceed the tank’s water line or water will constantly drain from the tank through siphoning. To secure it in the right position, use an angle adapter or metal clip (most fill valve kits come with either) to align the end with the tank’s water line.
- In case you need to adjust the height of the fill valve, it’s just a matter of shortening or lengthening the stem piece until the overall length of the fill valve fits inside your toilet tank. The top of the fill valve should be slightly higher than that of the upper part of the overflow tube, but not so much so that the tank lid cannot close.
- Once everything is in place turn on the water supply valve to fill the tank with water and if you need to make any adjustments to the water level simply slide the adjustment clip on the fill valve to change the height of the float cup.
- Inspect the new connections to make sure there are no leakages and flush the toilet to test its new functionality.
- Once everything is in place and the work is satisfactory, replace the toilet lid to finalize.
How long a toilet fill valve lasts depends on some factors like the brand, water composition and its cleanliness and how often the toilet is flushed.
Sometimes minerals in the water can accumulate at the valve leading to malfunctioning. This can also occur when some dirt gets trapped in the valve thus leading to leaking. In both cases, you can fix it by cleaning the valve.
Cleaning chemicals added to the tank water can also lead to gradual degradation of the valve components consequently causing malfunctioning.
The toilet fill valve should be replaced if it begins to malfunction or become damaged or gets corroded.
According to maintenance requirements by most manufacturers, it’s suggested that the fill valve or its parts should be replaced every five years for efficiency and to avoid disruptions in service.
The following are the indicators that your toilet’s fill valve is faulty and needs to be fixed or replaced:
The toilet will not stop running – you might start hearing the toilet constantly filling even when the toilet tank is supposed to be full. However, you should confirm where the water is leaking to. Leaks from a faulty fill valve are channeled to the overflow tube and not the toilet bowl. If water leaks to the bowl the problem is with the flapper.
When it takes too long to refill the toilet – a faulty fill valve can not only lead to excess filling of water in the tank but can also lead to slow refilling in the tank after Flushing.
The toilet flushes only partially or not at all – a toilet refusing to flush might be a result of other factors but in this case, a damaged or clogged up fill valve can hinder or slow down refilling of water in the tank thus leading to problems in flushing.
When the toilet starts humming or screeching –
When you hear either of the sounds coming from the tank, it indicates that water is not flowing freely which in most cases is due to a malfunctioning fill valve. However, the leaking can also be silent and hard to hear.
Replacing a toilet fill valve is an easy task that any homeowner can manage to perform. It does not take a lot of experience with plumbing or a lot of time. All you do need is the right tools, a little effort and know-how of what and how to get it all done as explained earlier.
However, regardless of how easy it is you should take care and work carefully to avoid making mistakes or any damage to parts.
The cost of replacing a fill valve depends on the brand of the fill valve you are buying and whether you decide to seek professional help or not. On average, the price of buying a new fill valve should cost you between $10 and $30.
You might incur additional costs if you have to buy tools or seek professional help but with the assumption that you already have the tools and skills, the project should cost you as mentioned earlier.
Most fill valves are quite interchangeable and are of standard size thus can fit the tank openings of most toilets because most tank openings have standard diameters.
The major concern is often the length of the fill valve stem rather than the diameter. The length might be long or short depending on the height and size of the tank it was designed for.
The best and most recommendable way to buy a suitable replacement is to bring the old fill valve with you to the store or shop so as to find the best match.
This way too, you can get to make comparisons based on other factors like price, quality and efficiency plus you can get advice from dealers.
The Fluidmaster 400ARHR fill valve is the brand that I would recommend most as the best one due to several reasons.
First is that Fluidmaster fill valves are standard and compatible with many toilets, both dual flush and single flush ones. Furthermore, they are easy to install due to their simple makes.
The model provides products with a long lifespan and high efficiency at a low cost. It can be installed in the vast majority of water tanks due to its adjustable height.
Fluidmaster fill valves also have a unique roller-clamp part that allows you to adjust the amount of water used to the required amount. Concurrently, it has an increased refill rate, which is faster than most other fill valve models.
The entire product is made up of plastic and employs the proprietary floating cup design, which is one of the most dependable mechanisms available.
Lastly is the long warranty period of up to seven years that the company offers for its products.
What Tools do I need to Replace a Toilet Fill Valve?
The most common tools you need include;
- Adjustable wrench
- Plumbing pliers
- A bucket
- A sponge (you can improvise using an old towel or absorbent piece of cloth)
- A measuring tape.
- Safety gloves
Do you have to Replace the Flapper when changing the Fill Valve?
No. You don’t really have to replace the flapper when changing the fill valve unless the flapper also has a functional problem. This is because the two are not directly linked to each other and work independently serving different purposes.
The fill valve allows water to get into the tank as its name suggests, while the flapper allows water to get out of the tank to the toilet bowl.
Can you Replace the Old-style Ballcock with a Fill Valve?
Yes. You can easily replace an old-style ballcock system with a modern fill valve system. This can help make your system more efficient and advanced.
However, you need to check out or seek professional advice as to whether your whole system will be compatible with the new fill valve although incompatibility is a rare occurrence due to production of the same standard size or fitting components regardless of brand and make.