Your toilet might be the cause of your high water bill. A leaking toilet wastes as much as five gallons of water per minute, which adds up fast. Even a small leak could be responsible for the loss of 20,000 to 40,000 gallons of water each day. If you think there might be a leak in your toilet, you need to repair it as soon as possible to avoid an unpleasant surprise when your water bill arrives.
How Do I Detect a Toilet Leak?
Chances are if you can hear your toilet running you have an issue, but confirming a leak is simple. Add one teaspoon of food coloring to the water in the toilet tank and wait about 15 minutes before flushing. If there is colored water in the toilet bowl after the flush water is leaking into from the tank into the bowl, which means there’s a leak.
The Process of Flushing
Fixing a toilet that won’t stop running and wasting water first requires you understand a bit about how flushing works.
Modern toilets have worked about the same since they were invented. When you flush, the lever opens a flapper to cause the flush of water, then water fills the tank and lifts the float that shuts off the water when it reaches a certain level.
Now that you understand how a flush is supposed to work, you can determine what’s causing your toilet to constantly be in a sort of flush mode.
Float and Valve Problems
The culprit for a running toilet is often the float. When the float is set too low it results in a weak flush, but when it’s set too high water spills into the overflow tube and the fill valve won’t shut off.
To determine if the float is too high, measure down about an inch on the toilet’s overflow tube and make a mark. Flush the toilet and see if the water reaches and stops at the mark. If not the float needs adjusting.
Chain and Flapper Problems
Sometimes the problem is the valve. If your valve won’t shut off it’s defective and you’ll need to have it replaced.
Another potential problem that can cause a toilet to run is the chain length. The chain affects whether or not the flapper can close, and when the flapper is left open it causes constant running.
Finally, the problem might be caused by a worn out flapper. This is often discovered by process of elimination – if none of the issues listed above is causing the toilet to run, you can assume you need to have the flapper replaced.
The good news is a running toilet usually isn’t the sign an expensive fix is needed. More often than not the cost of the water wasted because of the problem is far more expensive than the problem itself. This is why it’s so important to get things fixed as soon as possible.
If you’d like more information on detecting and dealing with leaks in your home or you need help identifying a leak, give us a call!