Leaking Toilets – Guaranteed to Drive You Crazy!

Leaking Toilets

Leaking Toilets – Guaranteed to Drive You Crazy!

Toilets – if they’re not operating properly – are one of the prime water-wasters in your home. Which, when you think about it, makes sense. Your toilet and your water heater are the only appliances that constantly hold water, so when there’s a leak – there’s a leak.

A toilet may have a cracked tank, or a cracked bowl, and that will cause leaking on the floor around the base. Leaking can also occur when the washers, bolts, and/or gaskets that connect the tank to the bowl and the bowl to the floor wear out, rust, or corrode, which is what happens when metal parts spend their life in water.  These leaks are generally silent, but deadly; they can cause a great deal of damage to your flooring and sub-flooring. However – there’s one leak that’s unmistakable because it’s audible – very audible: the sound of water running inside the toilet tank. Constantly. Running. Water. It’s a sound that will drive you – and your wallet – around the bend.

Leaking Toilets

How much was that water bill again?

A running toilet can go through 2 gallons of water per minute. If there are 1,440 minutes in a day then it’s possible to go through almost 3,000 gallons of water a day. Now, 2 gallons of water is a lot of water running, and it sounds like a lot of water running, so it’s hard to imagine you wouldn’t notice it. But it can happen, particularly if you go out of town for a few days, or longer. It can also happen when people have large homes with a toilet (or toilets) in far-flung parts of the house, out of earshot. And of course – you – or other members of your family – might be hard of hearing.

The problem is – a running toilet can run up a big price tag. One of our customers went out of town for a couple of weeks, and came home to a water bill that went from $25 to over $400. Almost makes you want to just stop reading here and jump up and go check every toilet in your house, doesn’t it?

The main culprits if your toilet is constantly running

The “constantly running toilet” is almost always caused when some part of the mechanism inside the toilet breaks down. If you take off the lid of your toilet tank and look inside, you’ll see what’s actually a fairly simple mechanism that’s pretty universal – no matter what kind of toilet you have. Even if you have no “formal plumbing training,” you should be able to identify the major parts that cause the most problems. These generally include:

The Flapper Valve

A flapper valve is what controls the flush; it’s generally “round-ish” and made of rubber and sits down into a hole in the bottom of your tank – stopping the water from flowing out and down so it can refill. When you push the handle to flush – the handle lever lifts a chain (or rod or something) that will lift the flapper valve. Because the valve is made of rubber it can become hard or brittle – so that when it flops back down to stop the water from running out – it doesn’t seal properly over the opening to stop the water flow. When the water flow isn’t blocked, the water just keeps running. You need to replace your flapper.

The Float System

There’s a float assembly inside toilets that usually consists of some kind of “large-ish” plastic ball that’s attached to a metal rod; it floats on top of the water in the tank. Sometimes this breaks off, or develops a hole that fills it with water so it stops floating. If you look inside the tank and see a plastic ball unattached to anything, just floating aimlessly around,  then your toilet float isn’t doing it’s job. If the float isn’t floating – it’s not stopping at the level that will shut off the water and stop it, so the water just keeps running. You need to replace your float.

The Flush Handle

The flush lever – or handle – is the part of your toilet that will take the most use and abuse; it’s what activates the flushing action. The handle on the outside attaches to a rod on the inside, and because it’s constantly used, over and over, and its constantly wet, it will rust and corrode until the rod just finally breaks off, rendering your toilet inoperable, which often means, yes – the water just keeps running. You need to replace your flush handle.

In reality, the way the inside of a toilet is designed is pretty brilliant – it’s such a simple mechanism, and it works so well – except when it doesn’t. Repairing and/or replacing any of the above issues are easy to do if you’re handy, but again – if you’re not? Give us a call; we can get your toilet up and running in no time! (sorry, we couldn’t resist!)

Faucets – the “Drip, Drip, Drip” is the Sound of Money Down the Drain

Dripping faucets – probably the #1 plumbing problem in homes today

A dripping faucet – or two or three – is so common that people often don’t notice it. If they do notice it, they tend to just think of it as a nuisance rather than an honest-to-gosh plumbing problem, water-waster, and slow-moving money-melter.

 

A slow drip can waste 7 to 10 gallons of water per day, and that ends up to 3,600 gallons a year. Several slow drips – or a fast drip – can go through 30 to – well, hundreds of gallons of water a day. $60 to $200 a year buys a fair amount – or a lot of groceries!

 

The other problem with a leaking faucet is that – if you don’t fix them – they don’t get better on their own. A leaky faucet will not “heal” itself; it’s always going to get worse, and if it gets significantly worse, then it can mean repair problems that can cost upwards of $200 to $1000 or more. Hard to believe that such a minor problem can turn into such a major headache – but we’ve seen it happen, unfortunately.

 

5 Reasons your faucet might be dripping

The primary culprits when it comes to causing drips are corrosion, mineral deposits, or washers, gaskets, and “O-rings” that have gone bad. If you happen to have the tools and a little DIY experience, most faucet fixes can be done yourself. Here are some of the problems:

 

  1. Washers: Washers are one of the first parts to wear out; they’re what sits between the handle and the water source and tighten up to stop the water from flowing. Sometimes, they may be improperly installed, or they might be the wrong size, so check for all of these possibilities.

 

  1. Loose parts: These are easy to identify – if you can see water dripping or running from somewhere whenever you turn it on – whether it’s the handles, the spigot, or the entire faucet mounting – something needs to be tightened up, for sure.

 

  1. O-ring problems: There’s a small disc at the top of the screw that holds the faucet to the mount or water valve, and this is called the “O-ring.” This disc wears out with constant use, and can become loose. That’s often what causes a drip around the handle.

 

  1. Valve seat corrosion: The valve seat is the connection between the faucet piece and it’s spout. An accumulation of sediments can cause this to corrode, and that causes leaking around the spout area. This one often needs a plumber, however, as it’s a little difficult to do on your own.

 

  1. Broken plumbing: Occasionally broken fittings – or even a broken pipe – will cause a dripping faucet. Pipes develop cracks that disrupt water pressure and can lead to water dripping – somewhere. If you’ve tried all of the above repairs and nothing has fixed it – then chances are this is what’s going on. If this is the case, you need a plumber, because it’s usually not something you can take care of on your own.

 

If you don’t know an “O-ring” from a washer – give us a call!

We’re always interested in saving our customers money whenever we can, but if you don’t have a few wrenches handy, or think that duct tape is the world’s answer to home maintenance – then just give us a call. We’re always happy to come out and help fix anything you’ve got going on – as long as its plumbing related. Not only that – but it might even be time to do an inspection of your plumbing in general – because we think that heading off a problem before it becomes one is a great idea, so give us a call!