Almost a third of water usage in households across the U.S. comes from flushing the toilet. Therefore, it’s safe to say that leaky toilets can significantly affect our water bills. Toilets are among the most significant water wasters. One reason being that such leaks aren’t as easy to notice as faucet leaks, for example.
If you’ve been wondering “how to test if toilet is leaking,” you’ve come to the right place. In this article, you’ll find the ultimate tips for identifying (and fixing) toilet leaks. For more complex leaks, we’ll help you find a reputable plumbing company in your area.
How to Diagnose a Leaky Toilet – Check Toilet Leak
Wondering how to tell if your toilet is running? Here are some hard-to-miss symptoms.
Phantom flushes happen when the toilet begins to flush without you being anywhere near the handle. If a toilet flushes on its own, it has a leaking issue that needs to be inspected by professional plumbers.
Slow Leaking Into the Bowl
If toilet water leaks slowly into the bowl, there may be an issue with the flapper. There are numerous tests you can try (explained below) to test whether there’s a slow toilet leak.
Long Toilet Run Time
If the toilet runs longer than usual, it may be because of a leak. There may be an issue with the chain, flapper, or flush valve that you should have checked.
Leaky Toilet Base
Toilets often leak around the base. If this is the case, there may be a loose water supply line, a wax ring issue, tee bolts issue, etc.
Shut-Off Valve Leak
Shut-off valves in toilets are rarely used. The washer inside them can become covered with minerals over time. When you close and open the valve, the washer on its stem may not sit properly. This can cause leaks around the valve stem nut.
Loosely Attached Toilet
Toilets are attached to floors with bolts. Over time, those bolts can loosen. It’s necessary to tighten them to prevent the water from leaking. Sometimes, the seal can also be loose, which can cause the toilet to leak.
Here’s an overview of other common signs of leaky toilets:
- You have to jiggle the handle to stop the toilet from running.
- You need to hold the handle down for the tank to empty.
- Strange noises come from the toilet when not in use.
- Water trickles down the sides of the toilet bowl for a long time after flushing.
Note that you don’t always have to hear or see the water run to notice a leak. It’s possible to experience silent leaks in your bathroom.
A toilet can leak in different places. When the water pools around the toilet’s base, it’s often a sign of a wax ring leak. Alternatively, you could be dealing with a toilet tank crack. If a toilet runs frequently, there’s usually a leak between the bowl and the tank.
If you want to test your toilet for leaks, you can do so by following the methods below.
Food Coloring Toilet Test
Here’s a simple toilet water coloring leak test you can try:
- Remove the toilet tank lid by placing your hands on each side of the tank and carefully lifting it off.
- Put the lid safely on the floor near you.
- Investigate the water level in the tank by looking for the “water line” mark on the back or side of the interior wall. The water level should be correct before you proceed to the next step.
- Drip 15 drops of food coloring into the toilet tank. Alternatively, use a dye tablet.
- Leave it inside for 20-30 minutes.
- Look inside the toilet bowl after time passes.
- Look for traces of colored water.
Don’t flush the toilet when you insert the color in Step 4. If you notice colored water in your toilet bowl after 20-30 minutes, it’s a clear sign of a leak.
If you don’t have any coloring nearby, you can try different methods to test your toilet for leaks:
- Shut off the water from the toilet before bedtime.
- Verify the water levels in the tank when you wake up in the morning.
- If you can only see an inch of water in the bottom of the tank, the problem is located somewhere in the tank.
Toilet Flapper Leak Test and Replacement
The flapper is a very common place for a toilet to leak. This little rubber seal is placed in the base of your toilet seat that covers the hole where the water flushes from the toilet. When you pick up the chain on your toilet, the flapper raises and flushes the water. When the flapper closes, the tank will refill.
However, if there are flapper leaks, the water constantly drains.
Take a marker and make a mark inside your water tank where the water meets the porcelain. You can leave the tank without water for a couple of hours. When you come back, if the water is below the level where it was initially, you have a leak.
If your toilet flapper is causing the toilet to leak, the only way to solve the issue is to get a new flapper. Below, you’ll find the steps on how to do that.
1. Turn Off the Water
The first step is to turn off the water to the toilet completely. The knob will be either on the wall or on the floor next to the wall. Sometimes, it’s below the toilet tank. You want to turn the knob clockwise.
2. Remove the Flapper
The next step is to remove the flapper. Start by removing the toilet tank lid and flushing the toilet to empty it.
Remove the flapper and disconnect the lift chain from your flush lever. Then, pull the flapper from the overflow tube pegs. The flapper will fall off the pegs.
3. Replace the Flapper
The next step is to replace the flapper. You can take your existing flapper to the hardware store to make sure you get the same one.
Before the replacement, wipe down the flapper seat to ensure the new one seals properly.
Finally, attach the new flapper to the overflow tube pegs.
After removing the flapper, it’s also important to remove the slack in the flapper chain. The flapper should open fully when you work the flush handle. If necessary, adjust the area where the chain and flush lever attach to each other.
The final step is to turn the water on again. Simply turn the water supply knob in the opposite direction.
Now that you know how to check if your toilet is leaking, you can proceed to some easy fixes. Note that some leaks can be treated with easy DIY solutions. But when the issue is persistent and a fix is beyond the homeowner’s capabilities, it’s time to call a plumber.
Why It’s Important to Call a Plumber
Tremendous Water Waster
A 2004 survey by Kohler found that 28 million households in the U.S. experience clogged toilets every month. Around 10% of those households have a leak that wastes 90 gallons of water daily.
Water Damage Risk
An IBHS study found that drain systems and plumbing pipes are the leading cause of water damage in the interior of a home. On average, fixing repairs related to the issue can cost more than $5,000.
Now, this doesn’t mean you should check your toilet and plumbing daily. But it’s important to know this to understand why calling a professional plumber to fix toilet leaks is necessary.
How to Find the Right Plumber
Finding a reliable plumbing company can be a challenge. Luckily, with the tips below, you’ll know what to look for.
1. Start Looking on Time
The best way to find a reliable plumber is to do the necessary research. Ideally, you want to find a good plumber before the leak arrives. This way, you can call them immediately and not waste time on internet reviews, calls, and other examination methods.
2. Make Sure the Plumber Is Insured and Licensed
A good plumber is licensed and insured. It’s important to have a certified professional do the job. In case damage or emergency occurs, the technician needs to be insured so you and your budget have peace of mind.
3. Get a Recommendation From the Better Business Bureau
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) and similar business organizations can be of great help in finding good plumber companies. You can get more details about companies you have already found or look for new service providers.
Chances are, companies included in the BBB listings are reputable and trustworthy service providers in their field.
4. Check for How Long They’ve Been in Business
No matter how small or big the leak, you want an experienced plumber to handle the job. A leak repair isn’t always straightforward. If not treated properly, it can lead to more damage and require more extensive repairs in the future.
An experienced plumber will not only look for the symptoms but also eliminate the cause. A person with experience is also highly unlikely to disappear before fixing the leak completely.
To ensure thorough, honest, and high-quality service, look for companies that have been operating for years.
5. Check the Online Reviews
One of the best ways to find a reliable company is to check online reviews. Website information and advertising are only the tip of the information iceberg you want to investigate before making that call. Preferably, go over multiple resources and look for consistent reviews.
6. Get Written Estimates
Reputable plumbing companies don’t usually offer estimates until assessing the plumbing issue in detail. Let the plumber inspect the situation and get a written estimate before starting any work. The estimate should include labor, material, and part costs.
7. Compare With Competition
Not everyone knows how to choose the right plumbing company. But everyone sure knows how to recognize the companies that simply deliver more than others. Has a company you cast an eye on won awards in the past? Check for any recognition from the customers or industry that makes one company stand out from another.
You can also check for the values of the company to see if they actively participate in community activities or share their knowledge with residents online.
A company that invests time, energy, and money in educating its customers truly cares for its people and is a good option for any work.
8. Make the First Step
Don’t hesitate to contact multiple plumbing companies. You can fill out the contact forms and emails to different service providers. Established businesses know potential clients want an overview of the service, price, and timeline.
It shouldn’t be too hard to find the phone contact, email, or online form on the website.
9. Get Personal Referrals
Do you have friends, family members, or neighbors that recently solved a similar issue to yours? Did they have a positive experience with a plumbing company? If so, ask them for referrals. Word of mouth is the best tactic for hiring reliable service providers.
10. Get Professional Referrals
Are you working with other technicians in your home at the moment? You can also consult electricians, A/C technicians, or construction workers for referrals. They often work together on large projects and can recommend good options in your area.
You may even be eligible for a discount when you get a recommendation from another professional service provider.
Doing the Toilet Check and Repair Right
A leaky toilet usually starts as a minor nuisance. It’s at this point that you want to get the issue remedied. There’s no better way to avoid excess water waste and extensive repair jobs than calling local plumbers immediately.
Now that you know how to detect toilet leak problems and how to choose the best plumbing company, you can act in your best interest.
Anytime Plumbing is a leading service provider in Santa Cruz and the surrounding area. If you want reliable, established plumbers to handle your toilet leak, contact us at 831-431-6593 or schedule your service here.