How to Easily Stop Almost Any Toilet Leak by Checking These Two Things
Do you know which appliance in your home uses the most water? By far, the answer is your toilet. A standard toilet will use anywhere from 4-6 gallons per flush and if you multiply that by how many people are in your house times how many trips to the toilet they take, that number gets very big, very fast.
Now, add on to the number of gallons consumed by normal use a leaking, running toilet. A slow leak can waste 30 gallons of water per day, while a medium leak can needlessly waste around 250 gallons of fresh water per day! Considering the average person uses 80-100 gallons of water per day, that is a massive amount of wasted water. And this problem is not only bad for the pocketbook, it’s also bad for the state’s water supply. Beyond all of those reasons, it’s just plain annoying to have to listen to a constantly-running toilet as well. But the best news is that most of the issues with your toilet are really easy to solve yourself!
So, if you can hear the toilet running long after a flush, go through the following list to see if you can troubleshoot and then solve the problem. But, if you feel at any time like this is a bigger problem, call a licensed plumber you trust to come help you.
1. TOILET FLAPPER
If you continue to hear water continue running in your toilet when the tank has refilled after a flush, give the handle a little jiggle. If the running water stops, the problem is likely a faulty flapper. When new, the flapper is flexible and seals tightly in the drain at the bottom of the tank, settling easily back into place after every flush. Over time, however, the rubber can harden and the flapper won’t fit as snugly into the drain.
This video will walk you through all the supplies you need and steps to take in order to replace a toilet flapper. The steps are written out below as well.
STEPS TO REPLACE A TOILET FLAPPER:
- SHUT OFF WATER & REMOVE LID - The first step is to shut off the water by turning the water valve below the toilet. Once the water is off, remove the lid from the toilet tank.
- FLUSH TOILET TO DRAIN TANK - Next, flush the toilet to empty the water out of the tank. Hold the handle down so all of the water drains out of the tank.
- REMOVE CHAIN FROM FLUSH ARM - Free the flapper by disconnecting the chain from the flush arm.
- REMOVE THE OLD FLAPPER - The flapper should still be connected to the flush valve at the base by two tabs. Unhook the tabs and completely remove the old flapper. Be aware that over time, the flapper starts to deteriorate and can leave a black, sooty residue on your hands when changing it.
- CHECK & CLEAN FLUSH VALVE - Run your fingers along the inside and the top of the valve to make sure it's smooth. You don't want any mineral deposits or hard water buildup to cause the flapper to not seal well. It's good practice to clean the rim of the opening as well, using a sponge or a paper towel.
- CONNECT NEW FLAPPER - Hook the new flapper to the base of the flush valve with the two tabs.
- ATTACH & ADJUST FLAPPER CHAIN - Connect the chain to the chain arm. If you find you have excess chain, you will want to adjust the length. You don't want to have too much play in the chain, because when the flapper closes, it could get caught between the flapper and the flush valve, causing it to not seal correctly.
- TURN WATER BACK ON & TEST - Turn the water back on to fill the tank and flush the tank to see how it all works. Hopefully, your leaky days are over!
2. TOILET FILL VALVE
Sometimes, a running toilet is caused by a bad fill valve that needs to be replaced. If you look inside the tank of your toilet and see that the fill valve is leaking or spraying water from either the top, or leaking water from the bottom of the tank, chances are good it needs to be replaced before it wastes you any more water or causes any damage to your home. Fortunately, it’s a relatively easy fix that can be done with minimal expense and a few basic tools and supplies.
Pick up a new fill valve at your local hardware store, making sure it’s the correct fit for your toilet. This will generally run you anywhere from $10-$20. You may also need a new supply line (the tubing that runs from beneath your tank to your water supply) if yours is a solid, inflexible line. Check this first and pick up a flexible supply line so you have one on hand to make this repair. Other supplies you will need include a small bucket, a sponge, a pair of pliers, a pencil, a screwdriver, a tape measure and possibly a utility knife.
Here is a video explaining how to replace a toilet fill valve. Below you’ll find the steps written out as well.
STEPS TO REPLACE A TOILET FILL VALVE:
- REMOVE LID AND MARK WATER LEVEL - Remove the lid from the toilet tank, then take a pencil and mark the level of the existing water line. This shows the water level of your tank so you can match it once you’ve replaced the part.
- TURN OFF WATER - Next, turn off the water supply to your toilet. The shutoff valve is usually found behind and near the bottom of the toilet. Turn the water off by turning the valve to the right. Next, we are going to be underneath the toilet, and loosen the nut that's on the bottom of the fill valve.
- DRAIN TANK AND REMOVE WATER - Next, flush the toilet to empty the water out of the tank. Hold the handle down so all of the water drains out of the tank. Remove any additional water from the tank by soaking it up with your sponge.
- REMOVE WATER SUPPLY LINE - You may need adjustable pliers to loosen the bolts at the top and bottom of the supply line. Remove the water supply line nut and line.
- REMOVE OLD FILL VALVE - Once the nut is off, remove the old fill valve by lifting it out the top of the toilet tank.
- INSTALL NEW FILL VALVE - Next, you're going to prepare the fill valve for installation. You'll need the locknut and the shank washer that comes with the new fill valve and for some models, you’ll need to remove an inner piece of the washer with your utility knife. Slide this piece up over the bottom shank of the fill valve.
Place the new fill valve in the toilet, making sure not to tighten it down yet. Adjust the top of the fill valve to about 3 inches above the overflow pipe. If you have a standard tank, the fill valve will probably come preset to the right height. But if you have a shallow tank or a deep tank, you may need to adjust the height of the fill valve by loosening the lock ring and raising or lowering the fill valve.
Next, while applying downward pressure to the fill valve, take the locknut and screw it to the bottom of the fill valve, where it exits the bottom of the tank. Tighten it down so the rubber washer squishes out and forms a good seal. You don’t want water to leak out after you've installed the new fill valve--but you also want to be careful not to overtighten it. Overtightening can crack the fill valve or crack the tank and cause flooding.
- ATTACH REFILL TUBE TO OVERFLOW PIPE - Attach the refill tube to the fill valve and attach one end of the refill tube to the refill clip. Place the clip on the side of the overflow tube. You don't need excess tubing, so measure how much you need and then cut any excess. Attach the other end of the tube to the nipple on the side of the fill valve; the tube should form a slight arc.
- RECONNECT WATER SUPPLY LINE - Next, reattach the water supply line.
Note: In this step, if you have looked under your toilet and found that you have a solid supply line instead of a flexible one, here’s where you’ll need that replacement supply line. You can save yourself the headache of trying to fit the solid line both now and anytime you may need to replace your fill valve in the future by simply replacing the line now. To remove it, loosen the nut at the bottom and it should come right off. Once it’s removed, take your flexible line and tighten it down. Once you finger-tighten it at the bottom, attach it to the bottom of your fill valve. Take your pliers and maybe give it another quarter turn, being careful not to overtighten any connections.
- TURN WATER BACK ON & CHECK FOR LEAKS - Turn the water back on and check all connections for leaks. If it’s working without any leaks, you’re good to go.
- ADJUST WATER LEVEL IF NEEDED - Finally, check the water line and adjust the water level in the tank if it’s too low. You can check this by matching the water line to the mark you made with a pencil before you got started. If the water level needs to be adjusted, you'll find an adjustment screw on the fill valve. Flush the tank first and then make your adjustments while the water is refilling. Clockwise will make the water level go higher; counter-clockwise will make the water level go lower. Put the lid back on the tank and you're all done!
As with any DIY home improvement or maintenance project, if you ever feel you've gotten in over your head, stop and call a plumber you trust. If you don’t already have a plumber, call Any Hour Services and we would be happy to send one of our licensed plumbers from our plumbing or drain departments to help get you up and running again without any leaks, drips, runs, or mess.
Copyright © 2019 by Any Hour Services
Sep 2nd 2019