Leaks are often silent, allowing a loss of water to go undetected for long periods of time. Some toilets may produce a running water sound that is easy to hear. Some leaks are visible as a small trickle running from the rim to the water in the bowl. The average leaky toilet can waste about 200 gallons of water per day.

Leak detector tablets

To detect silent leaks, remove the lid from the toilet tank, remove any colored cleaning agents, flush to clear water in the bowl, then add dye tablets, leak detector fluid or a few drops of food coloring to the tank. If the tank is leaking, the color will appear in the bowl within 30 minutes. Flush as soon as the test is complete.

Fixing leaks

To fix a leak yourself, you need a large adjustable wrench and a screwdriver. Now follow these simple steps:

  1. Jiggle the handle. If that makes the toilet stop running, the chain or guide wire attached to the handle may have been out of alignment.
  2. If the toilet flush handle frequently sticks in the flush position, letting the water run constantly, replace or adjust it.
  3. Make sure the handle fits snugly against the tank. If it doesn’t, use the adjustable wrench to tighten the nut attached to the handle on the inside of the tank.
  4. Check the rubber flapper or flush valve at the bottom of the tank. It may not be resealing tightly after flushing. If it is worn or corroded, it needs to be cleaned or replaced. Replacement kits with easy-to-follow instructions are available at most hardware and home stores.
  5. Check the tank water level. The correct water level is about one-half inch below the top of the overflow tube in the middle of the tank. The overflow tube drains directly into your sewer system. To lower the water level, use the screwdriver to adjust the screw on the end of the ballcock float arm or bend the float arm down until the correct water level is achieved.
  6. If the water won’t shut off at all, replace both the flapper and the ballcock.

If these simple procedures don’t stop the leak, you should call your plumber.

Low-volume toilets

Since the mid-1990s, all new toilets have been redesigned to conserve water, using 1.6 gallons of water per flush. Older models use 3 gallons or more per flush.

If your toilet is not a newer water-saving fixture, you might want to consider purchasing a newer model.