Finding & Fixing Toilet Leaks | Bathroom Tips

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If you noticed water puddles around your toilet or can’t stop your toilet from leaking, you may be understandably worried. However, before you call the plumber and spend $100 or more for a service call, you might want to try and fix it yourself. Many of the causes of toilet leaks can be fixed with an easy DIY hack and don’t require plumbing experience. We prepared a list of possible leakage causes and some tips on how to deal with them.

Check to see if there is a leakage after all

fix leaky toilet

Before you start messing with the tank or toilet mechanism, it is important to determine if the water is actually leaking from your toilet. Condensation (from hot showers or bath) is the most common cause of the water accumulating on your bathroom floor.

When the steam hits cold surfaces, like porcelain, it turns into drops of water that drip onto your bathroom floor. The other possible option is that your shower liner came out of place and the water collected on your floor is actually originating from the shower and not the toilet. It’s best to first mop up all the water and get the bathroom floor as dry as possible before checking if it accumulates around the toilet.

Check to see where the leakage comes from

Now that you established that the water is leaking from the toilet, there are different factors you might want to consider. Is there water on the floor around the toilet? Do you only see the water leaking into the toilet? The easiest way to locate the leak is to eliminate the water and follow the puddles to the leak source.

There is water around the toilet and on the floor:

  • If there is water around the toilet, and the water is not leaking over the toilet seat, the source might be a cracked toilet bowl. If you can’t see a crack in the bowl, you might try pouring water from a basin into the toilet and seeing if the leakage increases. Another trick is to pour a few drops of food dye into the bowl and wait. If you can see dyed water showing up in places around the toilet- the cause is a cracked bowl.

If it turns out to be a cracked bowl, you can opt for replacing it or try to repair the crack. You can find more information here on how to fix a cracked toilet bowl. 

Whichever option you might choose, keep in mind that it is important to do something to stop the leaking from the bowl. Ignoring toilet leaks can cause irreparable damage to your bathroom floor.

  • If there is water gathering behind the toilet, the water might be leaking from the tank. There are two possible reasons for this:
  1. The bolts have become rusty and are now letting the water drip out on the floor.
  2. The bolts are loose and are letting the water drip out.

In order to fix the first problem, you will need to remove the rusty bolts and inspect the effect that rust had on the tank. If only the bolts were rusty, you’re good to go! If the tank has become rusty around the bolts, you might need to replace the whole tank.

Consider this article to see how to exchange rusting bolts on your tank.

Purchasing a rubber washer can help you with fixing the second problem, as it can help tighten the bolts and stop the leak. Keep in mind that rubber washers should be replaced once every 5 years.

Also, this article will help you in case of loose tank bolts.

  • Another possible leak source is the bottom of the toilet. Every time you flush, water runs through the bowl under strong pressure. Leaks can easily happen if the bowl is not fixed to the ground.

In order to check if this is this is the cause of your toilet leak, put a dish underneath the tank and check if it’s filling up. If it stays empty, the cause is most likely your toilet leaking at the base.

Consider this article for more information on how to fix this kind of a leak:

  • Leaks from the bottom of the toilet can happen due to the bowl not being sealed to the floor and replacing the wax ring might be the solution. Is the leak is accompanied by an unpleasant smell? Is your bowl wobbling from side to side? You can almost be sure that the wax ring is no longer making a tight seal. Check out this article to find more information on how to replace the toilet wax ring.

There is no water on the floor

The constant leaking of the tank water into the bowl is another, very common, type of toilet leak. There are different causes for these types of problems. Since this problem doesn’t bother them as much, people tend to postpone fixing it. Dealing with this problem will prevent the wasting of water and accumulation of hard water stains in your bowl. Apart from the environmental reasons for eliminating the leaks, the cost can add up over a year from even a small leak. 

Have you discovered water leaking from the tank into the bowl?

Here’s what you can do to fix a running toilet:

  1. Remove the lid from the tank
  2. Check the float.

The float rises with water and stops the flow when needed. If you lift the rod that holds the float and the flow stops, it means that the float is not doing its job. You can try bending the rod down, which will put extra pressure on the float. If this doesn’t fix the problem you can always replace the float.

If fixing or replacing the float still doesn’t eliminate the problem, it might be wise to replace the flush valve. You can find more information on how to do that here:

How to Replace Toilet Flush Valve

As you can see, there are different causes to toilet leaks and many possible ways to deal with them. We presented you with ways to identify and solve different leaking problems. The fixes are very easy to apply and don’t require plumbing experience!

Frequently Asked Questions

How Can I Tell If My Toilet Is Leaking?

At one time or another, we’ve all had an inescapable feeling that our toilet is leaking and it’s usually prompted by the fact that there’s a lot more water on the floor of the bathroom than there should be.

As a leaking toilet is the most common source of all home-based leaks, if you do have to wade through water to use the john, there’s a pretty good chance that your toilet is leaking and that leak is why your bathroom is starting to flood.

And it’s relatively easy to confirm whether or not your toilet is leaking, by checking to see if your toilet, and bathroom, has fallen victim to any of the following signs of toilet-based disaster…

The After Flush

It sounds a little off, but if you listen to your toilet and it keeps making noise long after it’s been flushed this could mean that there’s a problem with the fill valve not shutting off properly. If the valve isn’t shutting off, your toilet will keep on filling with water, and as that excess water has to go somewhere, it’ll inevitably lead to your toilet developing a leak.

A Stained Floor

If the floor surrounding the toilet is stained and doesn’t match the decor of the rest of the bathroom, it’s certainly indicative of a slow leak.

While the stains will usually manifest as yellow or brown marks on a tiled floor, if the area around your toilet is carpeted you might notice a slightly musty, moldy smell instead.

That smell, while gradual at first will become more pronounced over time, as the carpet absorbs more and more water from your leaking toilet.

It’s Always Wet

Again, and slightly similar to the previous sign, another sure-fire indication that there’s a problem with your toilet is the floor around it. If the floor around your toilet is constantly wet, or even damp, the chances are that a leak is the root cause of the issue.

Drip Drip

If you can hear a constant dripping sound in your bathroom and you can still hear it after you’ve checked to make sure that all of the facets have been switched off, check the underside of your toilet tank and the pipe that connects it to the mains.

Age can weaken the tank, and the older a toilet is, the more likely it is to start leaking from the bottom of the tank.

Constant use can also play havoc with the pipes that connect it to the mains supply, so as well as checking underneath the tank, it’s always worth checking to see if the pipe has developed a slow, but steady leak.

What Is That Smell?

At some point in our lives, we’ve all smelt sewage. And once you’ve had that smell in your nostrils, you’ll never forget it. If that stench is making its presence felt in your bathroom, and no matter what you do you can’t get rid of it, it doesn’t matter how faint that smell is, it’s almost certainly coming from your toilet and it’s probably a leak that’s causing it.

Can A Toilet Leak Without You Knowing They’re Leaking?

Unfortunately, they can and it’s incredibly common. While unseen, unknown, and undetected leaks aren’t as common on handle flush toilets as they are with push button flush toilets, it’s still a problem that can haunt both types of toilets.

Most of the time, the first place you’ll feel an unseen leak is in your pocketbook. Higher than usual, unexplained water bills usually means that there’s a leak somewhere on your property.

And if you can’t find it, there’s a pretty good chance that if you call a plumber out to have a look at your toilet, they’ll soon stumble upon the reason for your higher than normal water bills.

What Is Ghost Flushing?

Also known as phantom flushing, ghost flashing occurs when a toilet appears to flush itself when no-one has used it.

Commonly caused by the water within the toilet reaching a level at which it flushes itself, the problem of phantom flushing doesn’t have a supernatural origin, it’s usually a mechanical problem.

If your toilet does begin flushing itself in the middle of the night, or unexpectedly during the day, you don’t need to call Ghostbusters, you need to ring a plumber.

Nine times out of ten, it’s caused by a malfunctioning flapper, or fill, valve which any plumber will be able to replace quickly and quietly without any paranormal help or spectral assistance.

When Does My Toilet Leak When I Take A Shower?

If your toilet starts to overflow or the water level in it starts to rise dramatically every time that you take a shower, it means that somewhere between your toilet and the main sewage pipe, there’s a blockage in the system.

As your shower empties into the waste water pipe in your home, it causes the water in that pipe to back up and flow out of the only place that it can, which just so happens to be the toilet.

While it isn’t a traditional leak, the only way to fix the problem and stop it from occurring every time you or someone else takes a shower is by clearing the blockage.

In this instance, your plumber is once again going to be your best friend, and if they can’t clear the blockage, they’ll be able to point you in the direction of a specialist who can.

Can A Toilet Leak Internally?

Much as we hate to be the bearer of bad toilet tidings, we have to tell you that yes, yes they can. Toilets can leak internally, and you’ll only become aware that your toilet has developed this problem when water starts to continually leak into the bowl of your john.

As alarming as this can be, it’s an incredibly easy problem to address and any plumber you call will be able to fix it in less time than it takes you to brew a pot of coffee.

Almost every single internal toilet leak can be traced back to a faulty flapper (the valve that keeps the water from entering the bowl), and as soon as the old broken one has been whipped out and replaced by a new one, the internal leak will cease

The Leaking Toilet Conundrum

Even though it seems like there’s an endless list of things that can go wrong with your toilet, if you spot any of the issues that we’ve talked about today, don’t worry.

They’re all easily fixed. Just pick up your phone, call a plumber and before you know it, your toilet will be leak-free and in pristine working order again.

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