The Ghost Flush: Four Common Causes

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The Ghost Flush: Four Common Causes

8 May 2020
 Categories: , Blog


Does it sometimes seem as if your toilet flushes itself for no reason? If so, then you are experiencing a ghost flush. Ghost flushes indicate that something is wrong with the water level in the bowl or tank. The following are four common causes of this issue.

1. Flapper Damage

The flapper is the plastic or rubber seal inside the tank that closes over the hole in the bottom of the tank. It is attached to the flush handle by a chain or plastic cord. Sometimes, the flapper doesn't seal properly, which allows water to run through from tank to bowl. To test the flapper, flush the toilet and wait for the bowl to finish filling. Then, place a few drops of food coloring in the tank. Check back in a few minutes. If the dye has leaked into the bowl, then you need to adjust the flapper for a better seal or replace it entirely.

2. Cracked Bowl or Tank

A crack in the tank or toilet bowl allows water to leak out. As the water level inside the toilet drops, it may be triggered to flush. If water is leaking through a crack, you will likely be able to find the moisture near the toilet. Although some leaks can be patched, most repairs are temporary at best. It's generally advisable to replace the entire toilet if the porcelain has cracked.

3. Refill Tube Problems

The refill tube is a plastic or rubber hose that is only mildly flexible. It is attached to the overflow pipe inside the toilet tank, but it shouldn't go into the pipe. If it does and there is no water in the pipe, the toilet may continue to run and occasionally even ghost flush. To prevent this, remove the tube from the pipe and clip it to the outside of the pipe with the attached hardware.

4. Damaged Floor Seal

Toilets are seated onto what is called a wax ring. This ring seals the base of the toilet to the floor so that leaks can't occur from the bottom of the unit. The ring can give out for a myriad of reasons, including aging or damage from the toilet moving (such as if the unit wasn't bolted down tightly). Much like a cracked bowl or tank, the leak from the toilet base can lead to a ghost flush. The seal will need to be replaced as soon as possible to fix the issue. Keep in mind that water leaks can lead to more damages than just the inconvenience of the ghost flush.

Contact a residential plumber like one at Eddie B Plumbing for more assistance.