toilet shut off valve

Toilet Shut Off Valve Won’t Shut Off

Have you ever tried to work on your toilet without shutting off the main valve first? It’s not a mistake that most homeowners make twice!

You need to turn off the water supply at the valve if you want to avoid flooding and work efficiently.

But sometimes you’ll find that the valve won’t turn off completely. What’s worse is that this can contribute to major leaking, which adds a huge amount to your water bills.

If you’re dealing with a faulty shut-off valve, you’ll either need to replace the damaged components or replace the valve itself.

How To Shut Off The Toilet Valve

There are a few quick fixes that you can use to try to shut off the valve. They’re low-risk and simpler than unclogging your toilet. You don’t need to be intimidated.

Twist The Valve Gradually Back and Forth

twist the valve

Sometimes all you need is a little movement.

As part of your bathroom maintenance, you should turn your toilet valve off and on at least one time every year. That helps keep it from getting stuck.

If you haven’t been doing that, then you might just be dealing with a somewhat sticky valve.

Gently and slowly move the valve counterclockwise, clockwise, and counterclockwise again. Don’t use so much strength that you might damage the components.

In most cases, this will be enough to remove whatever dirt or grime has built up. After a few minutes of wiggling, the valve should become loose enough that it can smoothly turn.

Then you can shut the valve off.

This should be your first approach, but the other approaches will help if this one doesn’t work.

Use WD 40

wd 40

One option is to use a lubricant like WD 40. WD 40 tends to work better than other lubricants because it’s unlikely to affect the rubber or metal components of the valve.

Lubricant is helpful when you have a valve that will turn just slightly, but you can’t seem to loosen it with your strength alone.

Spray the valve liberally with the lubricant. Make sure that you follow all of the instructions for safe handling and ventilation.

Let the WD 40 sit for ten minutes to do its work. Then you can try turning the valve with your hands again.

Use Hot Water To Loosen The Valve


Hot water might appeal if you want to loosen the valve without using a spray. It’s ideal for very cold metal, since metal tends to be more malleable and easier to move when warm.

If you’re too aggressive with the cold valve, you might break it.

Fill a bucket with hot water, put on rubber gloves, and soak a cloth. Then put the hot cloth on top of the valve to loosen your cold water line.

Let the cloth sit there for several minutes to transfer the heat.

Another option is to use the hot air from a hairdryer to heat the valve.

Tighten The Center Screw

Sometimes the issue is just that the center screw is loose. The center screw is the most important component of the valve.

It is responsible for holding all of the pieces together.

If the center screw loosens, your valve might leak or be unable to close properly. Use a pair of pliers to tighten the screw and then try one more time to shut the valve off.

How Do You Fix A Toilet Valve That Won’t Shut Off?

shut off valve

If none of the above tricks work, you may need to replace the valve entirely. Since you can’t turn off the water at the valve, you’ll need to do a little more heavy-duty work.

Shut Off Your Main Water Supply

You can’t work effectively unless you’ve turned off the main water supply. Otherwise, you’re risking leaks and flooding when you remove the valve.

If you already know where your main water supply is, shutting it off should be simple. For those who aren’t sure, the most common places for it are in your laundry room, your basement, or below your kitchen sink.

Once you’ve shut off the water, you can get to work.

Remove Excess Liquid From Your Pipes

There will still be some liquid in your supply line. If you don’t drain it prior to removing the valve, you could end up with water overflowing from your pipes, drain, and your toilet tank.

Look at your toilet valve. Then look for a faucet that’s mounted lower than the valve. Turn it on.

The water will flow out of the pipes and into your drainage system. When the faucet runs dry, you know that you’ve dealt with the extra liquid.

Close The Supply Line To The Toilet

There’s also a supply line to your toilet. This is basically just a hose that transfers water to the valve from the toilet.

This will be a slightly messier endeavor. Since you can’t easily use a faucet to turn off this supply line, you’ll want a bucket to catch the water.

Place the bucket below the valve so that the water flows directly into it.

You should be able to identify the supply line that’s connected to the valve. It will run to your toilet.

Use a crescent wrench to loosen and remove the connecting bolt. Then take the line out.

You can expect some water to flow out of the pipe from the toilet supply line. As long as you have a big enough bucket, it shouldn’t be a problem.

Remove The Broken Shut-Off Valve

Now you can finally take off the broken valve. The steps for removal will vary depending on whether your connection uses compression joints or copper pipes.

For compression joints:

  • Use a pair of pliers to hold the pipe steady so it doesn’t turn.
  • Use the crescent wrench to take off the bolt that connects the valve to the pipe.
  • Take the valve off when the bolt is loose.

For copper pipes:

  • Take off the broken valve by cutting through it with a pipe cutter.
  • Use a tube cutter to remove debris.
  • Leave the majority of the pipe — the more, the better. Long pipes will make the installation easier.

Install Your New Shut-Off Valve

  • Put a compression nut onto the pipe.
  • Attach your replacement valve to the ring.
  • Screw in the stem threads and the compression nut using your crescent wrench.

After this, you can connect the supply line back to the toilet. Then you can turn on your main water supply and test the connection to make sure it works.


Can A Shut Off Valve Fail?

A shut off valve can fail and need replacing. In fact, these valves aren’t expected to last forever.

They usually last anywhere from 15 to 25 years before needing to be replaced.

But you might run into issues if you don’t turn your valve on and off once annually. This is an important part of maintaining your toilet.

If you don’t move the valve occasionally, then it will accumulate rust. This will make it impossible to turn and could lead to leaks down the road.

Why Is My Toilet Shut Off Valve Leaking?

Toilet shut off valves will leak for a variety of reasons. You can typically replace the valve or the broken component without needing to replace the entire toilet.

The most common reasons for the valve to leak include:

  • The valve is old and dirty and has outlived its lifespan. It has gotten stuck and is unable to close fully.
  • The valve hasn’t been maintained properly. You should be turning it on and off on an annual basis. Without this maintenance, it can rust, which will prevent it from turning and closing properly.
  • Some component of the valve has become damaged or broken. This has led to leakage or an inability to close.

In order to repair your valve effectively, you’ll need to determine what is causing the leak.


It can be very stressful to be a homeowner whose toilet shut-off valve won’t turn off. When your water continues to run, you can waste hundreds of gallons as the hours and days add up.

The sooner you deal with the issue, the more your wallet will thank you when the utilities bill comes.

Fortunately, it’s often very easy to replace your toilet shut-off valve. The replacement method will vary slightly depending on the reason.

But the most common reason is a problem with your rubber washer. In these cases, you can simply replace that component.

If you’ve replaced your shut-off valve and are still having problems, or you’re struggling to know where to start, you can also call a plumber. Plumbers may be pricey, but their rates pale in comparison to the water bill you might get if you let the toilet run for too long.