How to Repair a Leaking Toilet

leaking toilet with water around the base

Taking Care of Your Toilet

Water is one of our most precious natural resources, we need water to live. So when you have a dripping faucet or leaky toilet, it isn’t only costing you money each month, it is wasting this valuable resource. As a homeowner, toilet repair is something that needs to be taken care of as quickly as possible, along with issues such as fixing leaking faucets.

How much water can a toilet leak in a month?

Sometimes there is a small trickly inside the toilet bowl. Many people may not consider this a water leak, but it is, and it is costing money with every trickling second. Other times, the leaking toilet repair is inside the tank. This is when you flush the toilet, and it keeps filling up the tank – something that can waste up to 200 gallons per day, or more than 6,000 gallons in a month. And that is just one toilet! 

What causes a toilet to leak?

Most toilet leaks are from the internal parts inside the tank wearing out. The parts inside the tank that make it work are either metal, plastic, or rubber. Considering that they are all under water 24/7/365, it only makes sense they would wear out, making toilet repairs necessary. 

What is the most common cause of a toilet leak?

There are eight common parts that most toilet repairs require. Ignoring any of them is costing you money with your monthly water bill as well as wasting a natural resource. Those 8 parts are: 

The Flapper

A toilet tank is where the water is held until it is flushed. When you activate the flush, there is a rubber flapper inside the tank that raises up allowing water to flow out of the tank into the toilet bowl. Once the water has emptied from the tank to the bowl, the flapper returns to its position, and the tank fills up with water.

Over time, as it sits in water, the flapper will become warped, or break and crack, making it unable to control the water flow. This results in that trickling sound you hear from your bedroom at night. This is a fairly easy toilet repair, and the parts are available at the local home improvement or hardware store. 

Sometimes the flapper is in good condition but becomes stuck in the open position. This allows water to keep running, filling the toilet bowl. This can usually be fixed by looking inside the tank and make sure the flapper and handle are connected. If it has disconnected, simply reconnect the flapper to the flush handle. 

Supply Line

Your toilet is connected to a cold-water supply line and this line will close when water isn’t needed for the toilet. This keeps air from leaking into the toilet plumbing, where it will seep out. Over time, and with a high water pressure setting, the supply line sometimes will crack. This is usually discovered when there is water around the toilet on the floor. 

You can call a plumber to repair, or you can do your own toilet repair. Start by turning the water off to the toilet, most toilets have a valve under the tank. Then carefully remove the cracked water supply line and apply plumber’s tape to the new water line and attach it where you removed the old one. Turn the water back on and you have completed a toilet repair! 

Damaged Tank

If you have water around the toilet on the floor, you need to check the tank. It could be the water supply line, which we just reviewed, or there could be a leak at the water line connection to the tank. This toilet repair can usually be one with plumber putty. Or if your toilet is older than 10 years, you’ll be better off replacing it with a new low-flow toilet. 

Float Gone Bad

If the water doesn’t stop filling the tank when it reaches the predetermined level, this is could be because the float has gone bad. The float is what sits on top of the tank water and monitors the water level. When the water has reached that level, the float disengages the supply. Fortunately, this kind of toilet repair is an easy process by simply replacing the float. In most cases, you can do this without tools.

Rusted Fill Valve

If the float is in good condition, but the tank is overfilling, it may be a corroded or rusted fill valve. The fill valve controls how much water can flow into the tank, working with the float to not let too much into the tank at one time. 

This is another toilet repair that most homeowners can do themselves by replacing the valve. There are several pieces involved, and you’ll want to check each piece to assure they are not corroded or rusted. It is recommended to turn the water off at the tank while doing this toilet repair. If you’re not comfortable with all the parts of a valve, call a plumber for a professional toilet repair.

Other Parts to Check 

A toilet is like other plumbing fixtures and has several connectors that prevent any water leaks. If those connections rot or rust or begin to disintegrate, this toilet repair requires replacing the connectors. If a toilet bowl becomes cracked, it will start leaking water, and at that point, the best toilet repair is to replace the entire toilet. If you’re not able to purchase an entire toilet, here is how to repair a cracked toilet base: 

  1. Drain the water from the toilet tank and then absorb any leftover water with a towel. 
  2. Using a waterproof epoxy or plumber putty, fill the crack and wait 24 hours.
  3. Check for any further cracks, then turn the water on and allow the tank to fill. 

Why does my toilet leak when I flush it? 

It happens, and when it does, you’re first wondering, what would cause a toilet to leak when flushed? There are several things that can be the culprit here. It could be a faulty or loose fill valve or water supply valve. Those are both easy toilet repairs for any homeowner. Or it could be a cracked toilet tank, in which case it would be best to replace the entire unit and upgrade to a low-flow toilet. Note that it can also be leaking because the valve seat is allowing the flush valve to leak. 

What would cause a toilet to leak at the base?

When your toilet appears to be leaking from around the base, you want to check the items we’ve mentioned already. Like the water supply line, fill valve, and other internal parts of the tank. If the water appears to be coming from under the toilet, it is the wax ring seal between the toilet base bottom and the floor. 

This isn’t the easiest toilet repair, and it is a two-person job. The water needs to be emptied from the toilet bowl and tank, the water turned off, and then the toilet needs to be lifted. A new toilet wax ring seal is then installed and, making sure is in the proper position, the toilet sat down perfectly onto the wax ring seal. 

What causes a toilet flapper to leak?

The toilet flapper is rubber and when that rubber has sat inside the tank full of water 24/7/365, it is going to cause it to rot. This is one of the most common toilet repair needs along with the float and the handle. 

view from above of a leaking toilet

In Closing – Can a clogged toilet cause a leak?

Yes, a clogged drain line will keep the water and waste from flushing down, and that will put added pressure on the wax ring seal. This is usually the reason the wax seal needs to be replaced, a frequently clogged toilet.