Toilet flushing with a ghost coming out of it.

What Is Ghost Flushing?

You are alone in your house on a dark, creepy night when you hear the distinct hissssssss of the toilet tank refilling. Your mind races with possibilities and you can only come to one terrifying conclusion: your bathroom is haunted! But, hey it’s a polite ghost because at least it flushed.

However, this was no paranormal plumbing incident. The more likely explanation is that your toilet is losing water. The industry has a term for this. We call it ghost flushing. Of all the plumbing mishaps that can occur, it’s probably the least scary.

I Ain’t Afraid of No Ghost Flushing

Often, ghost flushing happens because water is slowly draining out of the tank because of a weakened flapper. This causes the float to lower, triggering the water to fill the tank.

Here’s how to troubleshoot the problem:

  • Test the flapper by putting food dye in the tank. Don’t flush the toilet for 30 minutes. If the bowl is the same color as the water in the tank, the flapper is leaking.

  • A short chain could be causing the tank to lose water. The chain is connected to the flush handle that opens the flapper. A short chain prevents the flapper from settling into the hole, allowing water to leak through. Lengthen the chain several links and conduct the dye test again. If you still see dye in the bowl, move onto the next step.

  • Turn off the water supply to the toilet and hold the flush handle down until the tank is empty. Remove the flapper by detaching the chain and unhooking it from the overflow tube. Find a replacement at a hardware store. Keep in mind, there are many makes and models of toilets. You’ll need the right flapper, so bring your old one with you as a reference.

If the toilet still flushes on its own, check for visible signs of leaks around the base and feel along the underside of the tank for water. There may be a loose bolt that connects the tank to the toilet bowl. If you find one, tighten it.

And if that doesn’t do it, call S&D Plumbing at (512) 648-4663. If we can’t fix it, call the Ghostbusters.