Is My Toilet Leaking?

Charlotte emergency plumber

If you’re wondering if your toilet is leaking, you’ll want to find out fast. Why? Because a leaky toilet can cost you big bucks in water bills. In February of 2010, a woman in Minneapolis was stunned to get a $1,600 water bill – all because she didn’t fix a running toilet. What was her normal water bill? Somewhere between $70-$80 per month.

Not every leaky toilet will cause that high of a water bill spike, but even a leaky flapper can cost you an extra $100 in water bills. The following are common toilet leak issues and how to troubleshoot them.

Signs Your Toilet is Leaking

While many toilet leaks are silent leaks (meaning you won’t see any symptoms other than a water bill spike), there are several signs that may mean your toilet is leaking somewhere, such as the following:

  • The toilet continues to run unless you jiggle the handle to get it to stop
  • Your toilet is making noise long after it’s been flushed (this can be a gurgling sound or a whooshing or water sound)
  • You have to hold the handle down for a long time to get the toilet tank to empty all the way
  • Water is running over the top of the overflow
  • Water keeps trickling into the toilet bowl long after it’s been flushed
  • If the toilet seems to be turning on and off by itself

What Part Of My Toilet Is Leaking?

First of all, you have to determine what part of your toilet is leaking. Leaks can occur because of the following:

  • Flapper (can be cracked, warped, or just plain worn out)
  • Ball not functioning properly
  • The gasket under the flush valve is damaged
  • The overflow tube has a crack in it
  • The ballcock (which is a refill valve) requires a seat or washer
  • The wax seal is broken around the edge of the toilet

To Figure Out What Is Leaking, Try The Following Tricks:

Take Off The Toilet Tank Cover

This way you can see into the tank to see what is happening.

Remove Any Toilet Cleaner Products

If you use a bleach tablet or some other toilet bowl cleaner tablets, remove them and flush until the water in the toilet bowl runs clear.

Dye The Water In The Tank

Put some dye (Kool Aid mix works well, as does food coloring) in the toilet tank (not the toilet bowl, but the tank – where you just took the cover off) and wait 20-30 minutes until the water is completely colored. Don’t let anyone use the toilet in this time.

Check The Toilet Bowl

If you’ve got colored water in the toilet bowl, you have a leak, and it’s probably been costing you money in water bills.

Now Draw A Line

To determine what is leaking, draw a line (using a pencil) to mark the water level in the toilet tank.  Shut off your water supply to this toilet and wait 30-60 minutes. Do not let anyone use the toilet during this time.

Check Your Results

If the water level has not changed, you have a leaky refill valve. If the water level has gone down, you have a leaky flush valve.

What If My Toilet Is Leaking From The Base?

In that case, your issue is the wax seal, which needs to be fixed by a professional plumber.

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