How To Adjust The Water Level In Your Toilet Bowl: 3 Easy Fixes To Try


Toilets are a necessary part of any modern household. Contemporary plumbing keeps bathrooms sanitary and helps prevent the spread of bacteria and diseases by eliminating human waste before it has time to develop problems. They also make bathrooms and homes smell better. But toilets often come with their own problems, especially when the pieces break down or something goes wrong. One of the most irritating but less serious issues is when the water level in the toilet bowl is too high or too low, resulting in an expensive water bill or trouble flushing properly. To fix this problem, you need to know how to adjust the water level in a toilet bowl.

Determining Toilet Type

Comfort zone in the house picture


Toilets are complicated to those who don’t understand them but surprisingly simple once you do. Most homes will have one of two types of toilet – either one with a cylinder or ball and arm float. The float controls the water level in the tank and toilet bowl.

To figure out which type of toilet you have, remove the porcelain lid from the tank on the back of the toilet. Inside will be a couple of different pieces. What you are looking for is either a ball-shaped object or a cylinder. They are recognizable on sight.

The ball typically sits on top of the water in the tank and will descend and ascend with the surface. Once it reaches a certain height, it triggers a valve that stops water from entering the tank and bowl. The cylinder, on the other hand, will again rise and fall with the water level, controlling how much liquid enters the toilet bowl. It is typically attached to another cylinder to control pressure and tension.

Adjusting a Cylinder Float

Person fixing the valve


Adjusting a cylinder float is easy. First, remove the porcelain tank lid and be sure to shut off the water valve. This valve tends to be located behind the toilet near the pipes leading into the wall. Then, you need to find the adjustment stem. This is a long, slender tube underneath the cylinder float. It connects the float to the fill valve.

Once the adjustment stem is located, search for a release clip or an attached dial. Either piece should be along the side of the stem and its associated parts. The release clip can be loosened, allowing you to move the float up or down depending on your desired water level. A dial will also control the float, but should not be adjusted drastically in a single motion. Instead, you need to turn the dial only one full cycle at a time, allowing the float to move by half inches. This prevents the toilet from draining or overflowing.

Once you are satisfied with the water level, return the release clip so it is closed and let go of the dial. Your water level in the toilet bowl should now be the desired height.

Adjusting a Ball and Arm Float

Hand holding the arm float


Ball and arm floats are a bit different yet still similar to cylinder floats. Again, you need to remove the porcelain lid and shut off the water valve on the toilet. Then, look inside the tank. Most ball and arm float models have a line printed inside that tells you where the water should be. If the water level in the toilet bowl is too high or low, it most likely means the tank is not properly filled to that line.

The biggest reason why the water level is off in this style of toilet is damage to the ball and arm. Check the pieces and look for wear, tear, and cracks. If you see any, it might be time to go to the hardware store and find some replacements.

If this doesn’t seem to be a problem, you can adjust the ball and arm float by tightening or loosening a single screw at the very top of the system. Using a screwdriver, turn the screw a single rotation at a time. Doing too many at once can result in inconsistent flushing. Once the water in the tank reaches the desired height, leave the screw alone, return the lid, and turn on the water again. Your bowl should no longer have a problem.

Replacing the Fill Valve

If neither of these methods work, it’s time to replace the fill valve. You can find replacement pieces at more hardware stores. These should come with instructions that need to be adhered to exactly in order to ensure the toilet functions properly. Before doing any work, remember to shut off the water valve and flush the toilet so that all liquid drains out of the bowl and tank. Then you can get to work.

You’re going to need to do more detailed and complex tasks, so be sure you are up to date with some plumbing basics. The most difficult part for many is properly removing and then reattaching the plumbing hose. If you’re unsure about the instructions that come with the pieces, consider contacting a plumber for more professional assistance.


An inconsistent water level in your toilet bowl can be a bother and leave you wondering what you’re supposed to do. After all, you can’t just stop going to the bathroom, as much as many wish to. If you can’t seem to get your water to stay consistent, check the fill valve. This piece controls how much liquid moves from the tank to the bowl after a flush. You’ll need to identify the type of valve and remember to turn the water off before working, but it’s an easy fix that can be done by anyone.

What’s Next

Now that you know how to adjust the water level in a toilet bowl, you can move on to more projects around the home. If you would like more guides like this one, or beneficial tips and tricks on how to fix your throne, learn more from this page. We update regularly with interesting content that can turn you into a regular handyman or woman.

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