We had to replace a section of the main water line where a tree root had caused a leak. After turning the water back on we had air and a little bit of dirt in the lines. After a little sputtering the water came back on in the sinks. But the toilet tanks are not refilling. What could be causing that?

  • Silly question, but did you open up the fill valve connected to the supply line? Did it make any noise when you turned it?
    – TX Turner
    Commented Dec 15, 2014 at 20:09
  • So you are saying that there are multiple toilets and none of them are refilling?
    – Gabriel
    Commented Dec 15, 2014 at 20:40
  • My son and a room mate have been helping with this. But as near as I can determine the water was never turned off. A slow leak turned into a complete break in the line when my son accidentally cut the pvc while trying to clear a tree root. We did find some dirt in the water. And I suspect that the dirt went to the toilets first because the other faucets would have had to be turned on before they would draw water. The toilet tank should have automatically refilled. Commented Dec 16, 2014 at 2:23

2 Answers 2


The toilet fill valves are often sensitive valves with small water passages that can easily get clogged up with debris in the water line. It is a sure bet that this is what has happened in your case.

Some styles of fill valves are designed so that they can be opened up to allow removal of grit, sand or other debris. On the other hand if your toilet fill valves are old, maybe even with plastic that has turned brittle from age and exposure to chlorine in the water, now may be the perfect time to replace them with newer style valves with the shut off float built right into the valve assembly. New float valves are available at very reasonable cost.

It is also a good time to possibly update the water supply connection pipe with a rugged braided steel jacketed flex fill line.


For the Fluidmaster valves (fairly common in the US), the method to clean them is pretty quick and easy.

Fluidmaster valve

Sample image from homedepot.com, no affiliation

  • Shutoff the water to the toilet.
  • Drain the toilet as much as possible with a full flush.
  • Lift the float to the top
  • While the float is raised, press down on the top and give it a 1/8th turn counter clockwise (I think, if that doesn't work, try clockwise).
  • Lift off the cover and carefully remove any small parts, gaskets, etc.
  • With the cover removed, place a cup over the top of the valve and turn the water back on for a moment. This will cause a rush of water straight up into the cup and clean any debris from inside the valve.
  • Clean and replace the gaskets and and other small parts, then reattach the cap with the reverse procedure.

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