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I have a toilet with a relatively new, conventional, fill system. Float goes up, valve shuts of.

Except when it doesn't, and keeps dribbling a little water into the tank until I pull off the lid and jiggle the float.

I've bent the float rod down further for more leverage. Not much effect.

Is this just a symptom of 'time to replace the valve tower'?

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There are several potential causes

  1. It might just need lubrication. Try greasing things up and see if that helps.
  2. The float itself might be bad. Try replacing that (they're quite cheap).
  3. You could have a flapper or stopper that is old, which would make it sometimes not align properly to shut off the water flow. This is easy enough to test, just smear the edges with vaseline and—if the flapper/stopper is the problem—the problem will go away for a while. It's not a permanent fix, but it'll last long enough to get a replacement in there.

Great title, by the way

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The biggest problem I have found in toilets is the fill valve gets small bits of rust, scale and sand stuck in it. Flushing the valve may clean it out and return things to normal. To flush most valves. Turn water off, flush toilet, remove top of the fill valve, place a cup or bowl over the top of the valve, Turn the water back on and let it flow for a few seconds. Turn off water and replace the valve top removed earlier. Turn water back on. Observe through several fill cycles if that did the trick.

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