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.
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!)