A leaky toilet can waste a gallon of water every 30 seconds, and over the course of a year, that can add up to hundreds of dollars or more. This depends largely on the severity of the leak, but some leaky toilets can waste thousands of gallons of water every month. That could mean an extra $150 to $250 every month, or potentially a few thousand dollars a year, added on to your bill.
A leaking toilet will place additional stress on your sceptic system if your property has one. If too much water builds up in the tank, it can overwhelm the system and cause flooding around the drain field outside. In some cases, this can cause untreated sewage and solids to back up into the home’s drains and contaminate groundwater outside.
Sceptic tank repairs can cost $2,000 or more, but a leaky toilet can be fixed for $300 or less in most instances. Addressing a leaky toilet early on can potentially save thousands of dollars in wasted water and unnecessary repairs.
What are some signs that a toilet is leaking?
It’s usually easy to tell when a toilet is leaking, though it may not be clear how severe the leak is at first glance. Is it time to call a plumber? If any of the following instances are true, the answer is yes:
The floor around the toilet is wet or stained
This is one of the surest signs that a toilet leak is present, and it may indicate that a severe leak is present. Look for discoloration around the toilet base, rippling in the flooring or a “spongy” feeling when pressing down on the floor.
There is water collecting around the toilet’s base
Sometimes the leak is visible. If it is, it will be most obvious around the toilet’s base. This is particularly common in toilets that are older or are heavily used.
The toilet keeps making noise after flushing
When the toilet makes noise, that means water is running. If it’s running when not in use, the toilet could be experiencing a leak. There is also a chance that a valve or the flushing mechanism itself is malfunctioning.
There’s a noticeable sewage smell
This is always a sign that something is wrong, even if it doesn’t always indicate a sewage leak. It could be a sign that the toilet or sewage pipes are leaking, but a foul smell often indicates a vent pipe leak. A vent pipe leak can be hazardous, however, as some of the gases inside are noxious.
What can cause a toilet to leak?
Toilet leaks can happen nearly anywhere in the system, so they are tough to pinpoint without the proper experience. Some of the most common problem spots include:
The tank holds water in reserve for flushing, so any damage to it can produce an immediate leak. In most cases, this damage will be obvious, but not always. Hairline cracks can still result in persistent leaking, even though the crack may be invisible.
The flapper sits in the bottom of the tank and seals the flush valve, but if it has been worn down by use and sediment in the water, it may not seal properly. Warped or stuck flappers can produce severe leaks with time, though these leaks may also be tough to detect before they become severe. Damaged flappers are the leading cause of major toilet leaks.
The fill valve
The fill valve controls the flow of water into the toilet, and it too can be worn down with time and sediment. Eventually, this wear can cause the valve to operate continuously, resulting in a running toilet.
Connections and supply lines
Leaks can also occur wherever there is a joint in the supply line or where the toilet’s components are connected together. With time, the rubber seals that create a watertight fit may wear down, resulting in a worsening leak.
Who can help with a leaky toilet?
A leaky toilet may only require a quick, inexpensive fix, but not always. If the leak is difficult to reach, recurring or a result of major component failure, replacing the toilet may be necessary. Addressing a leak early on, though, may preserve the toilet for longer.
Finding a plumber you can trust is important. Here’s what to look for when searching for a reputable plumber:
In most states, including Texas, a plumber’s license is required before engaging in any plumbing work. If a plumber is licensed, they have received the proper training and education to perform their job safely and to standard.
Insurance protects you, your property, the plumber and anyone working for the plumber from damage or injury. Without insurance, you could be held liable for either. Proper insurance is a must for any plumber you hire.
The more experience, the better. Plumbing is a complex job that takes years to master, so you will want a plumber with plenty of experience.
An experienced plumber should also have some references they can point you to, so you can consult with the plumber’s previous customers before making a decision.
Plumbers typically guarantee their work and the parts they use for up to a year. Be wary of any professional that won’t stand behind the job they do.
A leaky toilet can also spring a leak in your wallet, but only if it is ignored. An experienced plumber can quickly inspect your toilet, assess where the leak is coming from and make the needed repairs so you can avoid a more expensive leak or repair down the road.