One of the most costly household wastes of water is a leaky toilet. According to the American Water Works Association, toilets account for 45 percent of all indoor water use in a typical home. It is estimated that 20 percent of all toilets leak.
Toilet leaks can range from small to large, constant to random, or from loud or silent. They all cause wasted water. Depending on the water pressure to your house, a running toilet can leak over one gallon of water per hour. This is almost one unit of water a month. If left undiscovered, a running toilet can waste almost 13 units of water a year.
Fortunately, most toilet leaks are relatively easy to fix.
In a properly functioning toilet, no water should move from the tank to the bowl unless the toilet is being flushed. A leaking toilet loses water from the tank to the bowl without being flushed.
- Most toilet leaks are caused by a faulty valve (also known as “flush valve ball” or “tank stopper”). A flapper valve should be replaced every three to five years. Most hardware, plumbing and home improvement stores supply flappers. How to check for a leaky toilet flush valve (flapper):
- Carefully remove and set aside the tank lid (this water is clean until it enters the bowl)
- Add some food coloring or a dye tablet to turn the water a different color
- Put the tank lid back on
- Wait 15 minutes and do not flush
- If dye appears in the toilet bowl, the flapper valve in your toilet is leaking and should be replaced
- The second most common type of toilet leak is caused by an improperly adjusted or broken fill (ball cock) valve. If the float is set too high or if the shut-off valve fails to close completely, water will continue to enter the tank and flow into the overflow tube. This type of leak can be seen simply by taking the tank top off and observing if water is flowing into the overflow tube once the tank is full.
If you do need to replace the entire toilet, look for a WaterSense labeled model.