Why Does My Toilet Randomly Empty Itself?

Owner E.R. Plumbing Services

Does your toilet empty itself every once in a while? Do you hear the toilet running for a short while even when you are quite sure no one has flushed it recently?

Problem: Toilet Empties Itself Randomly or Toilet Runs on Occasion

Possible Cause of Problem: Poor or No Venting

If your sewage system is not properly vented, problems like this can develop. Sewer vents allow air to flow to the toilet sewage system, which is required for proper function. If the venting is not set up correctly, air pockets get trapped inside the sewer branches can cause a backdraft of sorts known as back-siphonage. If the vent is not working properly, the trapped air tries to escape through the sewer system and pulls the trap of the toilet in a way that causes the toilet to empty from time to time.

If this is the problem, you’ll need a plumber to come out and inspect the venting of your toilets.

Possible Cause of Problem: Flapper is Damaged and Cannot Seal Properly

The water that sits in the tank behind your toilet bowl stays there because of a flapper that seals the tank. Every time you flush the toilet, the flapper is lifted, allowing water to move from the tank and into the toilet bowl. Once the water level of the tank has reached a certain point, the flapper falls back into place, resealing the tank.

If the flapper has deteriorated, the seal is no longer reliable. In many cases the flapper will become brittle or will have accumulated a good deal of sediment, interfering with proper sealing. If the tank leaks enough water out, it will trigger a random flushing. You can solve this by replacing the old flapper, which is not hard to do.

Possible Cause of Problem: High Water Pressure

In some cases, high water pressure can cause a toilet to start running at random times. You can solve this by replacing the pressure reducing valve (PRV). If your toilet is emptying itself, you may have high water pressure problems that will adversely effect your other appliances as well.

Need Charlotte Plumbing Services?

Are you interested in more information about ghost flushing? Feel like you need help solving the problem of your toilet empties itself and you can't seem to get it to stop or replace the flapper on your own?

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Article Summary

Quick question & answer: Why does my toilet randomly empty itself?

Your toilet may randomly empty itself for one of the following reasons. Your sewage system may not be properly vented, causing back-siphonage. The flapper in your toilet may be damaged and is not sealing properly, triggering random flushing. High water pressure can also cause your toilet to run at random times.


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7 comments on “Why Does My Toilet Randomly Empty Itself?

  1. Inka on

    I have tankless toilet in my apartment and it stopped flushing , making loud noise , leaks and after you using it drains out on its own. Also it looks like water always running a little inside bawl . How to fix all that? How hard to fix all that without a plumber? Which part must be replaced?

    • David Parker on

      Inka, I feel we would need pictures, or have you schedule an appointment if you're saying it's Tankless to help diagnose if you're in our area.


  2. Mario handyman services on

    Hi Wendi, Your toilet may have just dried up depending of how long you have not used it and how dry your home is, If you are not going to use that toilet you may think of shutting the water off and empty the tank by flushing the toilet. put a little bleach in the bowl, close the lid, and that should take care of any new growth of mold.

  3. Wendy on

    I am disabled & cannot get upstairs - so one toilet is fine, lid always open. The other someone left closed & I had someone check & there is no water in bowl and there is mold... I do not have someone wndysho can go up & flush weekly or ever. Why is one toilet fine and the other not. Is the bowl emptying because the lid was left closed? cuz neither have been used or flushed. I did have plumber year ago & replace whatever he felt both needed but this is the issue now... I read all the "possibilities" but that is for toilets that are being used - mine are not being used. Thanks for your help.

  4. Angela Waterford on

    Thanks for telling me that if my toilet's flapper has deteriorated, it's usually the problem that causes ghost flushing. I guess I should call a plumber to fix this problem for me since I don't know where I can get a new flapper for it. My toilet has been automatically flushing for a week already, and I've heard that this has been going on even during the night, so I need to get this fixed before my septic tank gives up on me.

  5. Rene Scott on

    My toilet loses about three inches of water after an hour or so in the bottom bowl I have no leak on the floor what so ever. I hope you can answer my question. Thank you so much!
    Rene Scott

    • David Parker on

      Rene, of course, this may be a difficult question to answer since we do not know the make and model of your toilet 😉 Remember that the water stays at a given level because of the u-bend, which is called a trap, within the porcelain of your toilet. The shape of the bend will determine the height of the water level. So, it is possible that that there is a crack in the trap of the toilet its self and the water is slowly running down the drain (lucky you ). The other, and actually more common issue can be a clogged or improperly installed vent. One way you can check for a plugged vent by flushing the toilet, When the toilet then fills and the tank shuts off the water to the toilet, turn on the hot and cold water on the closest fixture to the toilet, most likely your sink or the tub. If the water level moves in the toilet you have a clogged vent. The change in the level will happen within minutes. Check the vent where it sticks up through the roof and look for obstructions. You can use a snake to snake out the vent stack or flush it with a garden hose (could be messy). The other problem can be a partially clogged downstream drain line. That could siphon the water out of the toilet. give your system a good cleaning with a snake and see what happens. The other thing is pulling the toilet and making sure nothing like a tampon and strings are hung up and causing capillary action wher wicking is removing the water from the bowl. I will also say sometimes it could be the valve itself in the bowl siphoning. Hope this helps, good luck.

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