Fix Leaking Toilet

How to check a leaking toilet

You hear that?  That half a second woosh sound your toilet makes?  Do you know what that is?  It’s a leak; and that’s cold hard cash you’re flushing down the drain.  Leaking toilets cost you money.  According to the EPA, the average house leaks or waste about 10,000 gallons of water a year.  Based on what I pay for water here in Louisville KY, that’s about $150.00 a year.   Now add a leaking toilet to the mix, and depending on how bad the leak is, you could easily triple that number.  I’ve been told a severely leaking toilet could fill a swimming pool in a year. That’s a lot of dough.

Fix leaking Toilet
Drop your food coloring in the tank and wait. Don’t flush!


So you think you may have a leaking toilet?  It’s super simple to check.  All you need is a bit of food coloring and time.  Lift the tank lid off and drop a few drops of your favorite color in the tank.  Now you wait.  Depending on how bad your leak is will depend on how long the next steps take.  At minimum I’d wait a few hours though.  I like to do this as I’m going to bed, or heading out for the day (just in case you have a very slow leak), and you can give the toilet time to send the colored water into the bowl without you having to worry about flushing.

How do I know if it’s leaking?

Leaking Toilet Flapper
The next morning my water was blue without flushing.  Be sure you flush out all the colored water now, it can stain if you leave it too long.

If, after time, colored water has made it into the bowl of your toilet without you flushing it…you have a leak.  A perfectly working toilet should pass zero water from the tank to the bowl without flushing.  If you have colored water in the bowl, you have a leak.

I’ve got a leak, now what?

This really depends on what toilet you have.  Most have a flapper in the center of the tank that loses it’s seal over time.  Some of the newer ones (like the one in the upper picture) use a canister style flush valve. Either way, that rubber seal is typically the culprit.   If you are unsure which you have,  it’s always a great idea to take a quick pic of the parts with your phone before heading out to the hardware store.  It’s also a great idea to know the brand name of your toilet.  Some manufactures use specific parts.  Replacing the parts shouldn’t take more than a few minutes.

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