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How can I Fix a Leaking Toilet?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 11 November 2016
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Dealing with a leaking toilet is a task that many people prefer to leave in the hands of a plumber. While it is true that the leak may be caused by problems that require the attention of a professional, that is not always the case. Before you call in reinforcements, take a little time to see what you can do to repair the leak yourself. Here are some tips on how to begin.

It is important to note that there is more than one reason for a leaking toilet. The problem may be nothing more than a deteriorated wax ring that needs replacing. At other times, the origin of the issue may be the float arm, flush valve, or the ballcock in the tank. When the leak is due to some component that can be replaced with relative ease, there is a good chance you can do the work yourself.

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One of the more common examples of a leaking toilet is a tank that seems to refill even when the toilet has not been flushed recently. An easy way to determine if the float arm or flush valve is not working properly it to place a few drops of food coloring in the water tank. If after ten minutes or so there is evidence of food coloring in the bowl, that means the flush arm and ballcock is not working as it should, or that the flush valve at the bottom of the tank is no longer completely closing. Fortunately, both these problems can be fixed by replacing the defective parts. Many hardware stores carry tank kits that contain everything needed to address this type of leak.

However, if water colored with the food coloring puddles below the tank, your leaking toilet problem may be a hairline crack along the bottom of the tank. While there are sealants that will address the problem in the short term, the tank should be replaced eventually.

The tank may not be the origin of the leaking; instead, the problem may focus on the bowl. If you notice some seepage of water on the floor surrounding the bowl, there is a good chance that the wax ring creating the between the toilet bowl and the discharge pipe needs replacing. While this does require shutting off the water supply, draining the tank, and moving the bowl to replace the ring, this is something that many homeowners can accomplish with a little time and determination.

However, if the leaking toilet is due to cracks in the bowl, the time has come to call a plumber and buy a new toilet. While sealants may buy some time with a cracked tank, they are not recommended for cracked bowls. In order to prevent damage to your flooring, the bowl should be replaced as quickly as possible.

Keep in mind there are ways to handle minor issues that result in a leaking toilet. However, know your limits. If the problem is beyond the scope of your skills, don’t waste time and money trying to fix it yourself. Call in a professional and turn your attention to other matters.

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mobilian33
Post 3

@Feryll - Sealants in general are much better today than they used to be, so there is no telling how long a cracked and leaking toilet might last once you have it sealed properly.

I have used sealants to patch leaks in my boat and this worked great. I have a boat that has been patched with sealant several times and I have been putting it in the water for years since the first time I patched it. And I think if the sealant works on a boat then it should work even better on a toilet. I bet the toilet could last for years if you seal it properly.

Drentel
Post 2

@Feryll - Unless you have some type of major emergency where you absolutely have to stop a toilet bowl leak immediately, you are better off to go ahead and replace the toilet when the bowl is cracked. Sometimes the hairline cracks can be difficult to find, and you may have to take a few shots at the repairs before you get the leaks all patched up and stopped. As you probably know, leaking water can cause serious damage over time, so you want to be sure you get the job done right the first time.

I should also add that replacing a toilet is simple for a plumber since this is a job he or she does regularly. However, if you are thinking of doing the job yourself then you should know that it can be messy and a little more complicated than you might think it is.

Feryll
Post 1

Has anyone tried using a sealant to stop a leak in a toilet that is caused by a crack in the bowl? If so then how long did the sealant work, and was it long enough to make the repair worthwhile?

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