Troubleshooting And Repair Tips For A Leaking Toilet

Toilets can spring a leak in one of several places, although most leaks tend to occur in the tank or around the floor seal. Most toilet leaks are slow leaks, which are the type that can really cost you since you may not notice your water bill creeping up over time. You also may not notice water outside the bowl, which means you may initially miss the damage may be occurring to the floor, wall, or toilet. This guide can help you identify a toilet leak before it becomes a major problem.

Leak Types

There are several types of leaks that can affect a toilet. The most common are as follows:

  • Internal leak: This is when the toilet seems to constantly be running. You may hear water running or bubbling noises may sometimes emanate from the toilet. In this case, water is literally going down the drain at a consistent rate. This is an internal leak, so you won't find any water outside the bowl.

  • Damaged seal: Toilets have a wax ring around their base. If this ring isn't sealed properly around the base of the toilet, you end up with water leaking out and onto the floor.

  • Valve issues: Sometimes the leak isn't the toilet, but the water valves behind the toilet. If the leak is showing on the wall or closer to the valves, these may be the culprit.

  • Cracked tank: Finally, a crack in the tank or bowl can lead to a slow or fast leak, depending on the size of the crack.

Verifying a Leak

The quickest way to figure out the cause and location of a leak is with a small amount of food coloring. Put a few drops in the tank and hold off using the toilet for several hours. If the water in the bowl develops a tint, there is a likely an internal tank leak, which is usually a quick fix.

If you suspect an external leak, flush the toilet so the colored water moves to the bowl, and then wait several more hours. If colored moisture shows up on your floor, then you likely have a broken seal or a crack in the toilet somewhere. Inspect the outside of the bowl and tank to see if you can spot any beads of colored water, which will indicate a crack.

If the colored water stays inside the toilet, the valves are likely the issue.

Basic Fixes

Some fixes are easy enough to handle yourself. If the tank has sprung an internal leak, the ball and flapper apparatus is likely the cause. This means the flapper inside the tank is no longer sealing properly after you flush. You can fix it by adjusting the flapper chain, or replacing the whole assembly.

A broken wax seal is a little more involved, but it is possible to repair it yourself. Sometimes, simply tightening the bolts that hold the toilet to the floor is sufficient. If this doesn't work, you will need to remove the toilet and and the old wax seal, and then install a new seal before replacing the toilet.

Cracked tanks or bowls usually require the help of a plumber to replace the entire toilet. Leaking valves may also necessitate valve replacement or a repair, if you can't simply tighten them by hand.

To get local professional help, contact a company such as Hilmans Plumbing.