Easy Fixes for Leaky Toilets

June 30, 2015

A minor leak in your toilet can be a major problem, but before calling the plumber, check to see if this is a issue you can fix on your own.

Easy Fixes for Leaky Toilets

Water drips from the toilet onto the floor

Find the fault and prevent condensation

It's often hard to pinpoint the source of a leak from a toilet. It may be no more than condensation, which forms on the cold toilet tank in a steamy bathroom and drips onto the floor.

  • First, carry out a quick diagnostic check. Lift off the lid of the tank and add a couple of drops of food colouring to the water within. Flush the toilet and then wipe the outside of the tank, bowl and soil pipe with a paper towel.
  • If the paper is clear, the problem may be condensation. Switch off the water to the tank by turning the stop valve on the pipe. Flush the toilet, then line the empty tank with a layer of insulating material, such as an old foam camping mat or even some bubble wrap. The insulation will help prevent condensation.
  • Avoid condensation problems by keeping your bathroom warm when in use, and by opening a window or fitting an exhaust fan to clear moist air after you have used the bath or shower.

Water leaks from under the toilet

Tighten the toilet bolts

A toilet is connected to a large waste pipe in the floor. The connection is sealed by a wax ring. Over time, that seal may fail and leaks may appear around the base of the toilet. This is a serious issue and should be dealt with immediately. Left uncorrected, the sewage leak can do major damage to the floor and to the ceiling below.

  • Pry off the two plastic caps (one on each side of the toilet's base) that cover the bolts that fasten the toilet to the floor. Tightening the nuts may reseal the connection.
  • Also tighten the nuts if your toilet isn't securely fastened to the floor. A toilet that rocks, even slightly, will eventually damage the seal and leaks will appear below the toilet.
  • Often, the bolts are corroded and impossible to tighten. In that case, call in a professional plumber before serious damage is done.

Water leaks from the tank

Check the inlet pipe and link between tank and bowl

  • First check the joint between your domestic water supply and the tank. Wrap a sheet of dry paper towel around the joint and leave it for a few hours. If the paper is wet when you return, there is probably a leak in the joint. Try tightening this using a clamp and wrench. Apply minimal pressure — a fraction of a turn will often do the job.
  • If this doesn't work, the problem may lie in the foam washer (sometimes called a spud washer) between the tank and the bowl. While it is possible to replace this washer yourself, this fix requires the complete removal of the tank from its fittings and so is best left to a plumber.
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