6 Potential Reasons Your Toilet Is Making Noise When Not in Use

Has your toilet been making random noises when no one was using it? Whether you can hear thumping, clunking, gurgling, or whistling, the sound is most likely an indicator of an underlying issue that needs your attention.

Luckily for you, this article is here to help you. Below, I’ll cover the most common causes of random toilet noise, as well as what you can do to eliminate them.

1. White Calcium Buildup

If you hear gurgling sounds coming from your toilet when you aren’t using it, the noise might be coming from the pipes. Namely, when white calcium builds up inside the pipes, the water has trouble flowing freely, resulting in whistling or even thumping noises.

Besides the noise, you will also notice visible evidence of calcium buildup. As its name suggests, this type of calcium is distinctly white, and if you notice it on the outside of your bathroom pipes, it’ll definitely be on the inside as well.

This problem is quite common, especially in areas that have particularly hard water. Depending on the severity of the buildup, there are several remedies you can try.

The Fix

If you want to fix this issue on your own, using chemical cleaners is the best way to go. Anything from phosphoric acid and glycine to strong bleach and barium nitrate can be of help.

In case you’d like something a bit more natural and easily accessible, you can also pour some white vinegar into your toilet bowl. However, this trick will only work if the calcium deposit isn’t too severe.

Whatever you go for — especially if it’s a professional store-bought cleaner — make sure you wear protective equipment. Gloves are an absolute must, as is a face mask if you opt to work with strong chemicals.

Lastly, if you’ve never dealt with anything similar and you aren’t sure how to proceed, you can never go wrong with contacting a professional. In fact, doing so is the best option if the buildup is hefty, as you likely won’t have a cleaner or equipment strong enough to handle it.

So, it’s completely fine to contact a plumber. Your pipes will be as good as new in no time, and you won’t have to get your hands dirty at all!

2. A Leak in Your Shut-off Valve

Another common cause of a noisy toilet is a damaged or leaking valve. If that is the case with your toilet, you’ll hear water trickling, as well as some gurgling. The noise occurs because your toilet tank is leaking and thus needs constant refilling. If the problem is serious, you’ll also notice water on your bathroom floor.

Now, there are two possible solutions for this issue, all depending on how severe it is.

The Fix

First off, you should take a pair of pliers and inspect your water shut-off valve. If you notice that the bolt connecting the valve to the toilet tank is just loose, use the pliers to tighten it into place.

When you’re done, the noise and leaking water should become a thing of the past. If it’s not, the issue definitely stems from a different part of your toilet, so keep looking.

The second possibility is a bit more complex. Namely, if you notice that the bolt or any of the connecting pipes are damaged or corroded, you’ll likely need to replace them. Otherwise, the leaking will continue, and you’ll probably have to deal with more severe problems down the line.

Once again, it might be best to let a professional handle any replacements. That way, you’ll make sure the parts you buy are suitable and that everything will be connected properly.

3. A Faulty Fill Valve

If you’ve eliminated both of the causes I shared above and the noise still persists, you need to check your fill valve. This task is a tad trickier, but you can still do it on your own.

Firstly, make sure you shut off your water. Then, open up your toilet tank and drain it fully. The easiest way to do that is by flushing it once or twice, depending on how much water there is.

At this point, you’ll be able to see the fill valve located at the bottom of your tank. If you can spot visible tears, corrosion, or any other type of damage on the valve, you’ll know it’s due for a replacement.

The Fix

In most cases, the only fix for a faulty fill valve is a replacement. If you want to DIY it, you can buy one and use a pair of pliers to unscrew the nut connecting it to the toilet tank. Then, replace the valve with a new one, screw everything back into place, turn on your water supply, and you’ll be good to go.

Although this process looks quite simple on paper, it can get a bit tricky in practice. For one, the valve — and everything else inside your tank, for that matter — is pretty delicate. So, you’ll need to be extra careful not to nick something and do more harm than good.

In addition, finding the right valve for your particular toilet can also be a handful. Therefore, to avoid all of these issues, you should definitely consider calling up your local plumber.

4. A Malfunctioning Toilet Flapper

Do you hear hissing sounds coming from your toilet long after you flush? If the sound is also accompanied by consistent trickling of water inside your toilet bowl, you definitely have a malfunctioning flapper.

This part of your toilet moves whenever you flush, allowing water to enter and clean your toilet bowl. When it breaks or becomes stuck, it doesn’t close all the way up, leading to noise and excess water waste.

To check and see if your flapper is faulty, you will need to take off your toilet tank lid. You’ll see the flapper attached directly to the flush handle. If it’s broken or worn, you will need to replace it.

The Fix

Before you begin replacing the flapper, it’s smart to shut off the water supply to the tank by twisting the shut-off valve. Then, drain any water that will prevent you from reaching the flapper easily.

After that, you can slowly pull off the faulty flapper by detaching it from the flush handle lever. Doing so is easy, as flappers have little ears that you can pull in order to slip them off the valve.

Finally, you can start installing your new flapper. How you’ll do it depends on the type of toilet you have, but usually, you need to connect your new flapper to the pegs on either side of the flush valve. Next, connect the flapper chain to the flush lever and adjust the length as you please.

This process is pretty straightforward, and it shouldn’t take more than ten minutes. However, if it seems a bit overwhelming, you can also have a pro handle it for you.

5. High Water Pressure

Sometimes, toilets make banging noises when not in use due to extremely high water pressure in your toilet pipes. This occurrence is quite common in residential plumbing, as the same pipes are connected to a large number of different toilets and appliances (like dishwashers or washing machines).

When these appliances have fast shut-off valves, the water flow is quickly stopped, causing loud noise. If left alone, the high water pressure could lead to leaks and broken pipes. Therefore, it’s essential to do something about it as soon as possible.

Fortunately for you and your bathroom pipes, the solution is quite easy.

The Fix

All you’ll need to do to solve this issue is to install a water hammer arrestor on your waterline. As its name suggests, this handy tool will stop the loud banging (or hammering) noise coming from your pipes. Namely, it will absorb excess water movement and reduce the shock waves it produces.

As a result, the water will neither make noise nor create excess pressure on your pipes. So, your drainage system will be safe, and your bathroom will be blissfully quiet.

6. Sewer or Piping Issues

In case you’re woken up every night by gurgling noises coming from deep behind your toilet walls, the issue you’re dealing with is probably quite big. In most cases, such noise points to blocked or obstructed pipes, as well as drainage and sewer problems.

The Fix

If you suspect that something more serious is afoot, you should call a professional right away. Unclogging pipes by yourself can be quite difficult, and you could end up injuring yourself or causing even more damage.

Plus, if you live in an apartment building, you also have to think of your neighbors who share the same pipes or sewer system. So, it’s best to let someone else inspect everything and fix it appropriately.

Some Final Thoughts

If your toilet is making noise even when it isn’t in use, chances are that one of its parts is malfunctioning and needs replacing. The usual culprits are calcium buildup, the shut-off valve, the flapper, high water pressure, or a faulty fill valve.

Whatever the cause, it is pivotal to get to the bottom of the noise quickly. That way, you’ll be able to avoid more severe damage and higher replacement bills down the line.

Although you can always fix any issues on your own, it’s usually smartest to let a professional do the job. That way, you will protect both yourself and your bathroom from any further injury and damage.

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