How to Adjust the Water Level in a Toilet Bowl

Toilets should maintain a standard level of water in the bowl most of the time. If you notice that it seems like there’s too much water or you’re worried that there might not be enough water to flush away waste without clogging, then you’ll have to adjust the water level.

To raise or lower the water level in a toilet bowl, first make sure that the pipes aren’t clogged. Turn off the water supply and flush the toilet to clear the tank. Then adjust floats inside the tank. How you do this depends on whether you have a ball and arm float or a cylinder-style float.

Messing with plumbing can be intimidating, but adjusting the water level of a toilet is relatively simple. Let’s take a closer look at how to adjust the water level in your toilet bowl and why knowing how to do so is important.

Why the Water Level in Your Toilet is Important

A hand presses the toilet bowl flush

The last thing you want is for the water level in your toilet bowl to be too low. If there’s not enough water, blockages can occur as the waste gets stuck and can’t flush through the pipes.

Although it’s possible to address clogging when it does happen, blockages are usually a hassle to deal with. When blockages keep happening, they can cause even bigger issues.

Too much water also creates a problem. In the best-case scenario, you’re wasting water every time you flush. However, over time, this can also cause damage. That’s why it’s important to maintain the proper level.

How to Adjust Your Toilet’s Water Level

How to adjust your water’s toilet level will depend on if it’s too high or too low.

If the Level Is Too High

When your toilet’s water level is too high, the first thing you need to do is unclog the pipes. Often, the water is resting too high because there’s a blockage, which means there’s nowhere for the water to go. This leaves it sitting in the toilet bowl. If there’s any issue you can’t see and aren’t sure how to deal with, you can ask a plumber to check things out.

After you’ve checked this out, you need to adjust the float. How you do this will depend on if you have a ball and arm float or a cylinder-style float, which we’ll take a look at later on.

If the Level Is Too Low

If the level is too low, you should first take a look at the water in the tank. It should be a couple of inches below the overflow valve, and some toilets have a fill line you can feel for to check.

Make sure the water is at the proper level in the tank. Then you can use the floats inside the tank to adjust it the water level in the bowl.

Changing the Flushing Force

White toilet tank with an open lid and flush system

You can also try changing the flushing force of your toilet. If you follow the pipe, there should be a valve. Turning it will increase the force of the flush, which can help to adjust the water level in the bowl. If that doesn’t work, there may be other issues contributing to lack of flushing power.

Types of Floats

Once you’ve unclogged the pipes and adjusted the water level from the tank, if you’re still seeing the wrong level in the bowl, it’s time to adjust the floats. A toilet float allows water to fill the tank but prevents it from overflowing. Here are the two major types of floats and how to deal with them.

Ball and Arm Float

The ball and arm float has been used for a long time, and you can still find it in many toilets. A long metal rod connects a small ball to the toilet fill valve, so it’s easy to identify because of its name.

To adjust the float, first turn off the water supply. Then get rid of the water in the tank by flushing. The float will sit at the level the water does, so adjust it depending on whether you want less or more water. You should also ensure that no water has gotten inside of the float itself and that the plastic isn’t broken. If it is, you’ll have to replace it.

Cylinder-Style Float

The cylinder-style float is a modern alternative to the ball and arm. To adjust it, turn off the water and flush the toilet to get rid of what’s already in the tank.

You’ll see a long tube coming from the fill valve. You should be able to find a clip on it called a release clip, which you can then squeeze to manually adjust the float. Squeeze it again when you have it at the correct level for the water, and it will lock back into place.

Unclogging Pipes

If you suspect that your water level is too high because of clogged pipes, there’s an easy test to find out. Pour a lot of water into the bowl and wait. If it flows out through the pipes, there’s no blockage, but if it sits in the bowl, there is one.

There are a few things you can do before calling a plumber. The first is using a plunger to try to clear the toilet of any clogging. When dealing with a blockage that’s more stubborn, you can try using a drain snake (on Amazon). You can also make a DIY snake by untwisting the metal from a coat hanger and using it to pull out the blockage.

If that doesn’t work, call a professional before proceeding. Either way, adjusting the water level in a toilet bowl usually isn’t too difficult of an issue to deal with. It shouldn’t be long before things are running fine again.