How to Adjust a Toilet Float Step by Step?

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Your toilet can’t work as usual when the water level in the tank is not right. You’ll notice it quickly, but there’s no need to panic.

The solution is usually to adjust the toilet float. It’s easy to fix it yourself, even if you have no plumbing experience. The whole job won’t take more than five minutes of your time.

Let’s see how to adjust a toilet float step by step.

3 Types of Toilet Floats

Not every toilet has the same float, so it’s important to identify the model in your tank. There are three options here:

Type 1: Ball-and-Arm Float

A ball-and-arm float is the most common type. People also call it a float ball or simply a ballcock. It has a long arm holding a big empty plastic ball.

The ball sits on top of the water — when you flush the toilet, the ball moves down while the water flows out. After that, the tank starts refilling, while the float determines the amount of water that enters the tank.

Type 2: Float Cup

This type has a cup-shaped float. It’s a vertical pipe next to the toilet fill valve, which is why people call it a cylinder float. The cup floats on the surface of the water, determining its height. The higher it goes, the higher the water level in the tank.

The same rule applies vice versa — if you lower the float cup, the water level will reduce accordingly.

Type 3: Internal Float

The third type is an advanced version of the cylinder float. Internal floats can set the water level more precisely — you can find them mostly in newer toilet tanks. It spreads from the top of the fill valve to the bottom of the tank, near the flush valve. 

The system is similar to the float cup, but we’ll also explain the differences.

How to Adjust Toilet Float

Now that you know the different types of toilet floats, it’s time to learn how to adjust them. Remember that the first step is the same for all toilet tank floats — you have to close the water supply.

This is necessary because you want to double-check the water level without getting wet. How do you close water to the toilet?

Locate the shutoff valve next to the toilet or behind it. It’s often a small knob that you can turn clockwise or counterclockwise. Grab the knob with your fingers and twist it clockwise to close the water supply — it should go a full circle.

If the shutoff valve won’t shut off, use penetrating oil like WD-40 to loosen it up. It will help you twist the valve and turn off the water supply. Now that the water is off, you can start adjusting the float.

How to Adjust a Ball-And-Arm Float?

We begin with the most common type of toilet tank float. Here’s how you can adjust a ballcock.

Step 1: See the Water Level In the Tank

You’ve just closed the water supply, but don’t flush the toilet before checking the water level in the tank. Open the tank lid and make sure that the water almost reaches the tip of the overflow tube — it should be an inch below.

Some tanks have a mark telling you where the water level should be – it’s a thin line suggesting the ideal height of the water. You should go for that water level — anything more or less than that means that the float needs adjustments.

Step 2: Check the Float

The next step is to check the ball-and-arm float. It should be at the same ideal level as the water. That means the float should allow water to fill the tank an inch below the overflow tube’s top (or two inches below the fill valve). 

If not, you should adjust the ball float to fix the level of water in your tank.

Besides that, pay attention to the condition of the float. It should be free of waterlogging and cracks. If it’s not good, you have to replace it with a new model. Our suggestion is to buy the same model because it guarantees to fit your tank.

Step 3: Adjust the Float’s Height

Now it’s time to adjust the float. If it’s too high, the water will go to the top of the overflow tube — you should lower it. And if the float is too low, the water level will be more than an inch below the overflow tube — you should raise it.

In each case, your job is to use a flathead screwdriver to loosen or tighten the bolt holding the ballcock. Turning the screw clockwise will lower the float, while counterclockwise will raise it.

Step 4: Check the Water Level

Finally, you can check the water level in the tank. Begin by turning on the shutoff valve, as it will allow you to refill the toilet after flushing. Twist the valve counterclockwise and flush the toilet.

After that, the tank starts refilling. Let it complete the refilling cycle, and then check the water level in the tank. If you set the float properly, the water should reach your desired level (just below the overflow tube).

If not, you can recalibrate the ballcock again by following the same steps.

How to Adjust a Cylinder Float? 

Cylinder floats are different than ballcocks, so the adjustment procedure slightly differs. Apart from closing the water, these are the steps you should take:

Step 1: See the Water Level In the Tank

Once again, start by checking the water level in your tank. You can open the toilet tank lid and see if it almost reaches the overflow tube’s top. The fill valve is even taller, so the water should be a couple of inches below it. 

Remember to determine the problem — is water going below or above the desired mark?

Step 2: Check the Float Cup

This kind of float is not as big as the plastic ball, but you will notice its signature cup next to the toilet fill valve. It’s inside the tank, so you’ll need to flush the toilet to reach the float cup.

Check its position and whether it fits the desired level. If there is not enough water in the tank, the cylinder float is probably too low. In case of excess water in the tank, the float is set too high.

Step 3: Find an Adjustment Stem

The float cup has an adjustment stem next to the fill valve. It stretches parallelly with the fill valve, so you can’t miss it. The stem regulates the float’s position, which means it also regulates the level of water in the toilet tank.

Step 4: Squeeze the Release Clip

The next task is to find and squeeze the release clip. It’s a small clip on the stem that allows you to change the toilet float’s position. You can lift or lower the float along the adjustment stem when you squeeze the release clip.

As soon as the toilet float cup reaches the targeted position, you can release the clip to tighten the float.

Step 5: Check the Water Level

Lastly, you can inspect the toilet tank. Open the water via the shutoff valve and flush the toilet. When it refills, you’ll probably notice that water reaches a new level — it should be the level you set minutes ago. 

Close the tank top, and you’re good to go.

How to Adjust an Internal Float?

Internal toilet floats are similar to cylinders, so you can recognize them quickly. However, the adjustment process is somewhat different.

Step 1: See the Water Level In the Tank

Once again, the first step is to inspect the water level in the toilet tank. You know the drill already — low water means the toilet float is too low, while high water suggests otherwise.

Step 2: Detach the Refill Tube

Your fill valve has a refill tube that connects it to the overflow pipe. You should detach it to allow the internal float to rotate around the fill valve. Disconnecting the refill tube is easy — just pinch it with your fingers and remove it from the valve.

Step 3: Rotate the Internal Float

Without the refill tube, you can rotate the internal float. Turn it counterclockwise to release the float — it doesn’t even have to make a full circle. After that, it’s easy to move this part up or down.

If you want more water in the toilet tank, lift the float — it converts a low-flow toilet into a high-flow version. If not, do the opposite and push the float down an inch or two.

Step 4: Rotate the Float Clockwise

When you adjust the float, turn it clockwise to seal it back in its original position. It will sit tightly against the fill tube, so you can reinstall the refill tube. Take the tube with your fingers and snap it on the fill valve.

Step 5: Check the Water Level 

Lastly, you can open the shutoff valve to check the new water level. Let the toilet tank fill and look at the water height to learn whether it’s good. If you want to double-check, flush the toilet again and watch the same process one more time.

How Do You Know the Float Is Not In the Right Position?

Another important lesson is knowing how to identify a mispositioned toilet float. Apart from realizing that the toilet is not working well, you can notice a few other details:

These signals can indicate many other problems, but you should start with the float because it’s easy to repair.

The Bottom Line

How do you adjust a toilet float? It seems like a tough question at first, but it isn’t if you follow our step-by-step instructions.

The first job is to find it above or between the toilet fill valve, the overflow pipe, and the flush valve. After that, it’s just a matter of moving and adjusting a toilet flow to reach the desired position.

The whole process takes not more than 10 minutes, so there is no reason not to give it a try!


Which way do you turn a toilet float screw?

Turn the screw clockwise if you want to lower the toilet float. To adjust a toilet float in the opposite direction, turn its screw counterclockwise. The screw will probably make a full circle to get the float to the targeted position.

How do you fix low water in the toilet tank?

You can fix low water in the toilet take by lifting the float. It’s a plastic cup or ball next to the toilet fill valve and the flush valve. To increase the level of water, you have to unscrew the bolt holding the ball float — it will raise it an inch or two.

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