Stop the Drip: Identifying and Resolving Toilet Leaks in Your Bathroom
Have you noticed a suspicious puddle near the base of your toilet? Chalk it up to condensation or wet feet after a shower, you dry it up but it comes right back. Water puddles and the faint sounds of water running are subtle signs that can indicate a leak in your toilet. In this article, we’ll show you how to become a detective in your own bathroom, teaching you to identify those elusive leaks and how to fix them.
A leaking toilet can waste water, lead to higher water bills, and potentially cause damage to your bathroom. Here are some common signs to look for if you suspect your toilet is leaking:
1. Visible Water Around the Base
Water pooling on the floor around the base of the toilet is one of the most common signs of a toilet leak. This is most likely caused by a faulty wax ring seal between the toilet and the floor flange. The job of the wax ring is to maintain a watertight seal between the toilet and the sewer pipe below. If that seal is broken, then water can leak out onto the floor.
2. Persistent Dampness or Water Stains
Check for dampness or water stains on the floor near the toilet. These can appear as discolored or buckled flooring materials and may indicate a slow, ongoing leak. If the leak has been there for a while, it may cause the wood underneath to get soft or have some “give” when you press it with your foot. You want to prevent it from progressing this far (water damage) through early detection.
3. Bubbling or Peeling Paint or Wallpaper
If the wall behind or near the toilet shows signs of bubbling, peeling paint, or wallpaper, it may be due to water damage caused by a hidden leak. A crack in the back of the tank can remain hidden until it becomes necessary to remove the toilet.
4. Sewer Odor
If the wax ring seal is compromised, sewer gases can escape into the bathroom creating a “stinky” situation. This is a definite sign that your toilet has a leak. This can cause health issues and should be dealt with as soon as possible. A professional plumber should be contacted to repair the leak.
5. Water Meter Activity
To check for a silent leak, turn off all water sources in your home and monitor your water meter. If it continues to register water usage, there may be a leak in your toilet or plumbing system.
6. Constantly Running Toilet
If you grew up being told to “jiggle the handle”, you’ll know what this means. If your toilet tank constantly refills and doesn’t stop running, it could indicate an internal leak. This may be due to a faulty fill valve, flapper, or flush valve that is not sealing properly.
7. Dripping Sounds
Sometimes, you may hear a faint dripping sound in the toilet bowl even when the toilet is not in use. This can indicate a slow leak in the tank that is causing water to drip into the bowl.
8. High Water Bills
A sudden increase in your water bills without an obvious explanation could be a sign of a toilet leak or other plumbing issue. This is most often due to water dripping onto the floor or running continuously from a leak in the tank.
9. Toilet Bowl Water Level
Does the water in the bowl look higher one time and lower the next? If the water level in the toilet bowl is constantly changing without flushing, it may be due to a leak in the tank or the flush valve not sealing properly.
10. Visible Cracks or Damage
Inspect the toilet tank and bowl for visible cracks, rust, or other damage that could lead to leaks.
If you see any of these signs of a toilet leak, it’s important to act quickly. This helps you save water and stops any possible damage from getting worse. Depending on what’s wrong, you might have to change things like the wax ring seal, fill valve, or flapper. And if things seem too tricky, don’t hesitate to call a plumber for more complicated fixes.
Remember, taking care of your toilet regularly can stop leaks and make your toilet last longer. So, a little maintenance goes a long way!
Types of Water Leaks
There are two types of toilet leaks: internal and external leaks. External leaks are the most obvious ones marked by the presence of water puddles. Internal leaks are leaks between the tank and bowl sections of your toilet, most often caused by a faulty flapper. This means that your toilet is having trouble retaining water in the bowl. While this type often causes no external damage, it does increase your water bill since the water is running continuously trying to keep the tank full.
Steps to Fixing a Leaky Toilet
Fixing a leaking toilet typically involves identifying the source of the leak and then taking appropriate steps to address the issue. Here are the general steps to follow to fix a leaking toilet:
What You’ll Need:
- Adjustable wrench
- Replacement parts (e.g., wax ring seal, fill valve, flush valve, flapper)
- Towels or rags
- Bucket or container
- Gloves (for protection)
Step 1: Shut Off the Water
Find the water supply valve located on the wall or floor behind the toilet.
Turn the valve clockwise to shut off the water supply to the toilet. This stops the flow of water into the tank and bowl.
Step 2: Drain the Tank
Flush the toilet to drain as much water as possible from the tank and bowl.
If the toilet continues to run, lift the tank lid and manually close the flapper to stop the flow of water.
Step 3: Remove Excess Water
Use a cup, towel, or a shop vacuum to remove any remaining water from the tank and bowl.
Place towels or rags on the floor around the base of the toilet to catch any water that may spill during the repair.
Step 4: Identify the Leak
Inspect the area around the base of the toilet for signs of water. This will help determine if the wax ring seal is the source of the leak. If you commonly have water puddles around the toilet base, you can safely assume it’s the wax seal.
Check the tank for cracks, and inspect the flush valve, fill valve, and flapper for signs of wear or damage.
Step 5: Replace the Wax Ring (if necessary)
If the wax ring seal is damaged or leaking, you’ll need to replace it. First, you will need to loosen and remove the nuts securing the toilet to the floor bolts. Carefully lift the toilet off the floor and place it on its side. Scrape away the old wax ring from the toilet flange on the floor and the bottom of the toilet.
Install a new wax ring by centering it on the toilet flange. Carefully lower the toilet back onto the wax ring, aligning it with the floor bolts. Hand-tighten the nuts onto the floor bolts and then use a wrench to snugly secure them, but do not over-tighten, as this could crack the toilet.
Step 6: Inspect and Replace Toilet Components (if necessary)
Inspect the tank components (fill valve, flush valve, flapper) for any visible damage or wear. Replace any faulty or worn components as needed. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper installation. You can have internal leaks at the same time so replacing the flapper at the same time can save you time and effort from doing it later.
Step 7: Reconnect Water Line
Reconnect the water supply line to the fill valve on the bottom of the tank. Tighten the nut securely with a wrench. Check for leaks and turn on the water supply. If this worked and you see no signs of leaking after 10 minutes, congratulations! If not, then take the next step and seek the help of an expert.
Hire a Professional Plumber
Not everyone is handy with tools or skilled in fixing things around the house. When in doubt, it’s a smart move to call in a professional plumber. We know plumbing inside and out and can work our magic to fix your toilet troubles.At Always Plumbing & Heating, we’re your go-to experts for fixing leaky toilets. We’re here to take the load off and return your bathroom to the secluded oasis it was before! We understand the urgency of a leaking toilet, and we’re committed to providing quick solutions. We’ll promptly assess the issue and get to work, so you can get back to your daily routine. If you see signs that you need a repair, contact Always Plumbing & Heating at 780-489-8118.