If your toilet is leaking, there might not be any obvious signs. Unfortunately, people often fail to notice the symptoms of a leaky toilet until they have high water bills. Why pay the price of wasted water when you can easily check for a leaking toilet? As part of your plumbing maintenance, you can follow four steps to identifying plumbing leaks.
Why Toilet Leaks are Often Unnoticed
You might be wondering why you need to take special steps to identify toilet leaks. If you have a leak in your plumbing, there’s usually water damage or a dripping sound. While other leaks are obvious, a leaky toilet isn’t so apparent.
When your toilet leaks, the water goes from the tank into the bowl. It doesn’t spill out onto the floor unless you have a leak in your water supply lines or a crack in the tank. Therefore, you have no way of noticing the leak. You won’t hear the water or notice other signs of trouble.
Furthermore, people don’t notice toilet leaks because they tend to ignore their toilets. When is the last time you gave your toilet much thought? Typically, people don’t pay attention to their toilets until they have a problem with them.
What Causes Toilet Leaks?
Although there are a variety of reasons for you to have a leaky toilet, the most common cause is a broken flush valve. Also known as the flapper, this part is at the bottom of the tank. When the flapper is down, it forms a seal that keeps water from trickling down into the bowl.
Every time you flush the toilet, the flapper lifts up. This allows water to flow down into the bowl to replace the water that leaves the bowl and goes into your sewer line. If your flapper doesn’t have a tight fit, water will always trickle from your tank into your bowl.
The amount of water that trickles into your toilet may seem small, but it adds up. If you have a moderate toilet leak, it can waste you 6,000 gallons of water and cost you $70 a month. The average household wastes about 10,000 gallons of water each year, and your toilet could be a major contributor to that.
To determine whether or not you have a leak and need a plumbing repair service, you need to go through a four-step checklist. First, take the lid off of the tank on your toilet. As easy as this step sounds, you should proceed with caution and care. The lid is fragile and could break or chip on the ground. When you set down the lid, be gentle and place it away from foot traffic.
Then, add a few drops of food coloring to the water in the tank. It doesn’t matter what color you choose, but make sure you can clearly see the color. If you pick yellow or another pale color, add enough of the dye to make the color obvious. Red or blue are good choices.
Once the water is colored, wait three to five minutes for the dye to spread. Then, wait a few more minutes for the dye to settle in. Check the bowl of the toilet for color. If you don’t see any traces of the dye, you don’t have a leak. But if you see even the slightest color in your bowl, you have a leak in your toilet. Somehow, the water is getting from the tank to the bowl.
What to Do If You Have a Leak
A toilet bowl leak isn’t a major issue, but it does demand a repair. If you wait to fix your leak, you will continue to waste water and lose money.
Whether you plan to fix the toilet yourself or work with a plumber, shut off the water at the valve. As a result, no more water will flow into your tank, and you won’t have any more waste. Your valve should be directly behind the toilet.
Fixing the valve is one of the few plumbing repairs you may be able to handle on your own. Most home improvement stores sell flappers, and the products come with detailed instructions. Usually, you need to take out the old flapper and replace it with the new one.
Of course, there’s no shame in hiring an experienced plumber for this job. You might not have the time or the desire to replace the flapper on your own. In this case, a plumber can handle the install at a low cost.
Other Possible Issues
There’s no guarantee replacing the flapper will lower your water bill. If you have a leak somewhere else in your plumbing system, your water bills will continue to be high. It’s important to call a plumber and have them diagnose other problems in your plumbing.
Faucet and showerhead leaks are common occurrences in homes. If you have a worn faucet washer or gasket, your sink might leak. A small leak of one drip per second wastes over 3,000 gallons a year. Like replacing a flapper, replacing a gasket is a simple job.
Meanwhile, a showerhead leak could be a result of a loose connection between the showerhead and pipe stem. If you have pipe tape, use it to tighten the connection. You can buy the tape at most hardware stores. Of course, you can also call your plumber for help.
Tackling Toilet Leaks as Part of Your Plumbing Maintenance
By taking care of your plumbing, you save yourself money on water bills and future repairs. Something as simple as checking for a toilet leak can make all the difference. With some food coloring and patience, you can make sure your toilet isn’t causing you trouble.
Whether you have a toilet leak or questions about plumbing maintenance, give us a call at Reliability Home Services. Our experienced plumbers are always ready to help you. We take on everything from simple valve replacements to complete replumbing. Give us a call to learn more about our services.