Toilet Making Noise When Not in Use

by Jennifer Porterfield | Last Updated: December 14, 2023
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Is your toilet makes loud noise randomly when not in use and you’re wondering why does toilet make noise? It may seem complicated at first but it doesn’t need to be. There are several things that could be causing your toilet to make either a gurgling noise or a loud noise.

This article will provide you with the 3 most common reasons your toilet making loud noise when not in use, along with what to do to fix the problem!

Table of Contents

Types of Toilet Noises and Their Reasons

First of all, I want to discuss the types of toilet noises you may be hearing. These will typically include:

  • Banging
  • Ghost flushing
  • Gurgling
  • Hissing
  • Vibrating

Banging Noises

If several minutes after you flush your toilet, the toilet makes loud noise randomly as if it was a construction site, this shouldn’t be ignored. These loud banging or knocking sounds are likely because of high water pressure in your water supply line. When the toilet tank fills, and the water flow stops because the fill valve closes abruptly, it will make this loud banging sound, referred to as a water hammer.

If you were to ignore this loud banging noise it may result in burst pipes. Therefore, you will likely need to install a water hammer arrestor on the water line to stop your toilet from making noises like this.

Another option is to reduce the flow by adjusting the shut-off valve so that the water pressure is lower and less likely to cause you any loud noises.

Ghost Flushing

If you’re hearing flushing when no one is in the bathroom, you’re naturally going to be worried immediately. This is the sort of freakish situation you might see in horror movies. However, fear not, this is quite a common problem. There are a few things you will need to check.

In brief, you should remove the toilet lid, check that the refill tube is over the overflow pipe, and check for a worn or faulty flapper. Then, you should check the flush valve drain for any issues- if all of these elements are in working order, then it’s time to call a plumber. I’ll discuss this method in more detail later in the article.

Gurgling Noise

A gurgling toilet can be a result of many problems, and it is generally recommended to diagnose this one with the help of a professional. The reason is, that it is usually caused by a blockage somewhere along with your sewer system, whether that be in the vent stack, a clog inside the toilet, a blocked drain, or the sewer drain itself may have broken and collapsed.

Some of these problems are going to be far easier to fix than others. Regardless, you should stop using the toilet and immediately call a professional plumber to ensure you avoid a huge plumbing disaster.

Hissing Sound

A brief hissing sound may be normal as your tank refills, but a constant hissing sound will indicate that the toilet flapper isn’t doing its job correctly. You are likely to be losing water as water leaks very slowly into the toilet bowl and never fills it completely. You’ll need to fix or replace the faulty flapper to solve this issue, which we’ll get into detail later.

It is also possible that the water is draining into the overflow tube- therefore, you must make sure the fill valve is set to a level that is below the overflow valve.

Vibrating Sound

Finally, if your toilet is making an aggravating vibrating noise around the wall whenever the toilet is flushed, it is likely that the fill valve is the problem. The diaphragm gasket within the fill valve is liable to wear down, lose elasticity, and harden, leading to such an issue.

You can test whether the issue is a faulty fill valve by removing the toilet tank lid and lifting the float arm gently. It is connected to the fill valve, and if it stops the noise from occurring, it will have to be replaced.

Most Common Reasons Why My Toilet Won’t Stop Making Noise

There are a number of reasons why you will be able to hear varying sounds coming from your toilet when its not in use, as already touched on. Some of these reasons may mean there’s an underlying problem in your toilet system that will first need identified and then fixed.

Here are the 3 most common reasons your toilet making loud noise when not in use:

  • Calcium deposits
  • Leaky toilet valve making noise
  • Faulty fill valve

Calcium Deposits

If you’re unsure about calcium deposits, you should inspect the area outside of the pipes and toilet fittings. You should see white deposits there, as well as inside the components. Calcium that builds up on the inside will be allowed to clog the pipes, and subsequently, cause toilet makes loud noise randomly.

If you hear whooshing or gurgling noises when the toilet is filling up, this is usually a sign of calcium buildup.

Leaky Toilet Valve

A leaky toilet valve noise involves the toilet continuously filling up the tank when it’s losing water elsewhere. Hence, the toilet will continue to produce noises while leaking water. You may be able to determine this after inspecting the shut-off valve for any signs of moisture or leaking. When doing so, you should also check if there are any signs of corrosion, rust, or calcium deposits.

If you hear constant vibration sounds even when the toilet is not in use, it’s possible that the diaphragm gasket inside the fill valve is hardening, wearing down, and losing elasticity all at the same time. If this is allowed to occur, the valve will let water leak through and the vibrating noises begin.

Faulty Fill Valve

If you don’t find any calcium buildups or leaky valves, it’s then possible that the fill valve is not working as it should. This will lead to you possibly hearing hissing noises because the valve is not adjusted to the appropriate level. Therefore, water will begin filling the overflow valve.

Understand the Parts of the Toilet

Before you being to fix your toilet making loud noise when not in use, and unscrewing or dismantling anything in the toilet system, you must know the vital components you’re dealing with.

So, let’s first briefly go over the basic internal parts of a toilet, so you’ll know, if you don’t already, which ones you need to work on for repair or cleaning.

  • Flapper – is linked to the toilet handle. Whenever you flush the toilet, you’re lifting the flapper to release the water in the tank.
  • Float – responds to the tank’s water level. When the tank fills the water back, the float lifts high enough to switch off the water coming from the fill valve.
  • Fill Valve – is responsible for letting water into the tank.
  • Lever – the handle you’re pushing down to flush the toilet.

How to Fix a Toilet Making Loud Noise When Not in Use

Here’s a list of fixes to specific scenarios that may be of great help to you. However, sometimes it may feel too risky to try to tinker with the flushing system on your own, especially if you don’t have the best skills. Hence, it may be a reasonable decision to call a qualified plumber for help.

It’s important to understand the situation first so that you or the plumber is able to solve the problem. That way, you avoid paying too much for unnecessary work. Although, plumbers do have years of experience with noisy toilets, which means they should be able to locate the source of the problem and act on it swiftly.

Let’s now discuss some of the possible methods to fix a toilet making loud noise when not in use.

Removing Calcium Buildup

While it’s very possible that you won’t see any calcium buildup on the outside of the toilet, that doesn’t necessarily mean that there is none on the inside. Therefore, you must check by turning off the water, unscrewing a part of the pipe, and looking inside.

If you find calcium deposits, there are typically two options on how to clean them:

  • High-Powered Steam Cleaner – this will help to loosen the calcium buildup. The steam aids in softening up mineral deposits to enable them to break off faster.
  • Toilet Cleaners – that contain the right chemicals to break down calcium deposits. The most common and effective toilet cleaners include glycine, barium nitrate, and phosphoric acid. If you want something more natural, you could use white vinegar, but understand that the process will be fairly slow.

Here’s an example of a suitable toilet cleaner readily available on Amazon, the Scrubbing Bubbles Power Stain Destroyer:

Regardless of whether you’re using chemicals or natural cleaners, you must take precautionary steps to protect yourself from the smell and fume risks that will be present. You should, first of all, ensure that the bathroom is well-ventilated. It is also advised to put on clothes that cover your skin and wear eye protection and rubber gloves.

The remove the calcium deposits, you should pour five gallons of water into the bowl before adding cleaning chemicals. Then you can use a toilet brush with a long handle to spread the solution around the calcium buildup.

This process should then be repeated for at least 30 minutes until you’re able to remove the calcium deposits. Before leaving the bathroom, close the toilet lid, and let the cleaning solution soak the bowl of the toilet.

Fixing and Replacing a Faulty Fill Valve

To stop your toilet from making noise when not in use, you must ensure that the valve isn’t preventing the tank from filling up all the way. To fix this, you must first remove the lid of the tank and turn off the shutoff valve by twisting the valve clockwise.

After doing this, you will need to drain as much water out of the tank as you can by simply flushing the toilet. I would advise holding the handle a little longer than usual. After emptying the tank, find the water supply tube and use a pair of pliers to detach it from the fill valve.

After this disconnection, locate the lock nut on the underside of the toilet, which holds the fill valve in place. After unscrewing the nut, pull the old fill valve out and put in a new one. Screw the nut back in and reconnect the water supply tube before turning the water back on.

Here’s a useful YouTube demonstration:

Installing a New Flapper

If your toilet has a malfunctioning flapper, you should lift off the toilet lid, find the flush handle, and detach the flapper from the system by pulling its ears off the flush valve tube’s knobs. Most rubber flappers slip off while the plastic ones will snap off.

To connect a new flapper, configure the ears to the most appropriate position for the toilet’s design, before attaching it to the flush valve. You can then proceed to install a new chain to the flush handle, making sure you size it up for it to function correctly.

After this, you will be able to put the lid back on the toilet and reconnect the water. Test the toilet when the tank fills back up to see if the toilet makes noise when not in use. 

Here’s a useful YouTube demonstration:

Assessing the Water Flow Pressure

If the water pressure is too low or too high, it can make noise in the water flow valve. To assess the water pressure, you need to pull off the refill hose, where the hose links to the fill valve. The toilet will have a high water pressure if there is a strong stream of water coming out.

If this is the problem, try turning the water valve at the base of the toilet partly down before reconnecting the hose and flushing the toilet again. You can cut down the noise of the toilet by lowering the pressure.

However, you will need to increase the water pressure if it is very low by doing the reverse.

Checking Refill Tubes to Stop Ghost Flushing

After discovering that ghost flushing is the reason that the toilet is making noise and wasting water, you need to determine whether its an internal or external fix. Here are the methods to check both:

Internal Water Loss

  1. First, check the refill tube and remove it if it is inserted or shoved into the overflow pipe. Then, reattach the tube by clipping it to the overflow pipe. By doing this, you can prevent the tube from entering the overflow pipe and should stop the leaking.
  2. Afterward, clean the tank’s bottom and flapper area before replacing the flapper. If this doesn’t work, replace the flush valve drain.

External Water Loss

  1. Replace components to remove leaks coming from the fill valve’s bottom, as well as the supply line.
  2. Remove the fill valve and clean the bottom of the tank both inside and outside.
  3. Make sure to place the shank washer on the fill valve before installing the valve. Hand tighten the fill valve lock nut. Replace the water supply line if the line is older than five years. 
  4. You may need to replace the failed bolt seals if the leaks are coming from under the tank onto the toilet bowl.

Repairing a Toilet’s Handle

If the toilet continues to make noise after all the previous steps, including the replacement of the flapper, it’s possible that the toilet handle is broken or stuck, causing the toilet to run water continually, ultimately resulting in noise from the toilet tank.

In this case, you need to repair the handle follow these simple steps:

  1. First, shut the water off and remove the toilet lid.
  2. Drain the water in the tank.
  3. Spray or apply lubricant to stuck handles.
  4. If the handle is broken, locate the nut inside the tank that holds the handle firmly in place.
  5. Use pliers to unscrew the handle.
  6. Unclip the broken handle from the flapper and pull it outward.
  7. Put the lid back on, turn the water on, and check for sounds.

Here’s a useful YouTube demonstration:

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Why does my toilet make noise when not in use?

There are a number of reasons why you will be able to hear varying sounds coming from your toilet when it’s not in use. Three of the most common reasons include the build-up of calcium deposits, a leaky toilet valve, or a faulty fill valve. Each of these problems can be easily remedied by following the correct steps.

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