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So, you wake up in the morning, stumble into the bathroom, and sploosh, you step into a puddle. Your toilet randomly runs. Not a great way to start your day! Or maybe you find yourself waking up several times a night because the toilet randomly decides to refill every 20 minutes or so.
Either way, it would seem that you are the victim of a leaking toilet.
So why is your toilet leaking? What can you do about it? Is it something you can fix or do you need a plumber? These topics and more will be covered in today’s article.
Why is Your Toilet Leaking?
The question of why your toilet is leaking is first answered by how it is leaking and from where. Both internal (stepping in water) and external (toilet randomly refills) are considered toilet leaks. Let’s start with external leaks…
External leaks – These are leaks that cause water to leave the toilet, often winding up on the floor. There can be several causes for this, and we will touch on them here:
- Leak at the base of the toilet – These are usually caused by water seeping through the wax ring. This is usually a sign of poor installation, or a bad toilet flange.
- Leak from the tank to the bowl – The telltale sign of a tank to bowl leak is that it leaks while being flushed. This is usually caused because the tank had a chance to move around too much and the gasket between them has worn.
- Leak from the fill valve gasket – This is fairly rare unless the fill valve was recently installed or the toilet is cracked.
- Crack in the toilet – A crack in the toilet can show up almost anywhere. It can also mimic a wax ring leak or a leak at the fill valve gasket.
Internal leaks – These are leaks within the toilet parts that cause the water to either not shut off completely, or to cause the toilet to refill itself every so often. There are really only a few things that can cause this, and most are fairly easy to correct:
- Worn fill valve – Old style “ball caulks” are notorious for wearing out to the point where they can no longer shut off the water completely, but even newer “Fluid Master” valves can suffer from this. In essence the water keeps filling (sometimes really slowly) and just the toilet randomly runs into the overflow tube.
- Worn flapper – This is by far the most common cause for the toilet to randomly refill itself. The flapper will not properly seal on the flush valve so that water will leak down into the toilet bowl. This causes the water in the tank to lower to a point where it must refill itself.
While those two are to two most common internal leaks, there can be others as well such as sediment in the fill valve, a worn flush valve, an improperly adjusted flapper chain, etc.
What Can You Do About It?
Hopefully after reading about and doing some poking around, you have an idea as to why your toilet is leaking. The next question is what do you do about it?
As with many things, some repairs on toilets are pretty easy if you are at all handy. Others should only be handled by a professional, no matter how handy you are.
For instance, it is a pretty simple thing to adjust a fill valve, or flapper chain. Even replacing a flapper can be fairly easy, assuming you get the correct one for your toilet. Beyond that, it gets a little more technical, and you run the risk of having complications that definitely require a trained plumber.
For example, the fill valve is bad. You go to Home Depot and pick up a Fluid Master. According to the instructions it seems pretty straight forward. When you remove the supply line, it is evident that the shut off does not actually shut off the water. You run to the front of the house to turn off the main, and that shutoff doesn’t work either.
I’m sure you can see the result in that situation, and it’s not pretty. Anything other than a simple flapper, or chain adjustment should always be done by a trained, professional plumber.
If you think you may have a leaking toilet, go ahead and give Allstar Plumbing a call. We will come out, on a free estimate basis, and take a look for you. Whether a simple repair is all that is needed or you want to go with a toilet replacement, we will take good care of you.