Toilet Leak Troubleshooting and How-to

This toilet leak repair tutorial addresses whether you have condensation or a leak, finding the source of the toilet leak and how to seal a crack in toilet bowl.

So you have a toilet leak…what do you do next? If you notice water regularly pooling on the floor around the base of the toilet, you are right to think that you may have a leak. It’s important to take steps right away to determine the source of the leak and to get the toilet fixed. Besides being inconvenient, toilet leaks waste water and increase your utility bill. Declare the leaky toilet “out of order” and don’t use it until you solve the problem.

Step 1: Check to see if the leak is really just condensation

See if the leak could be from condensation forming on the tank or bowl that is dripping on the floor. Feel around the sides of the tank as well as the bottom to see if you notice any droplets of water. This common problem can be solved in different ways including changing out the flapper, lowering the room humidity, insulating the tank, and other methods including replacing the toilet.
Step 2: Identify where the leak is coming from

Determine if the leak is coming from inside the tank or elsewhere. If you hear the sound of continual running water, trickling water, hissing, or if the toilet never seems to properly shut off, you may have a leak inside the tank. However, you don’t always hear a noise when there’s a leaky tank so you can perform this simple test using household food coloring if you suspect you might have a leaky toilet tank. If the food coloring shows up in the bowl water, you may need to replace the toilet tank mechanisms. If the food coloring shows up at the base of the toilet on the floor, you need to investigate further.
Step 3: Check and seal the crack in toilet bowl

Water at the base of a toilet can be coming from several places. There may be cracks in the toilet bowl that need sealing. To seal the toilet tank cracks, you’ll need to drain and empty the bowl. If sealing the cracks doesn’t work, you’ll need to replace the toilet.
There could be a leak between the water supply line and the ball cock at the base of the tank. You can try tightening the connections, or you may need to replace the parts.
The bolts that connect the toilet to the floor may need tightening or replacing. Take care when tightening them to avoid cracking the base of the toilet tank.
The wax gasket seal that connects the toilet to the waste pipe may have failed. This is a common cause of toilet leaks around the base.
If you can’t find any leak source in the toilet itself, check the water shutoff valve to see if it could be the culprit.
To replace the wax gasket, you’ll have to remove the toilet from the floor and then replace it after the gasket is fixed or a new one is installed, so decide if you’re up for this DIY task or whether you’ll need to call in a professional.
Whatever the reason for your toilet leak, remember to clean up afterwards carefully and sanitarily. Use a disinfectant or bleach solution on all surfaces that the leaked water has touched, including the toilet and floor. If you’ve used a mop, be sure to disinfect the mop head, too. Make sure to wash any towels or cloths that you used to clean up the leak in the washer using laundry detergent and hot water. You may want to wear gloves when cleaning the leaked water, and be sure to wash your hands thoroughly when you’re finished.

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