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How To Find Toilet Leaks

A toilet leak may not seem like a big issue until you get your water bill, or you notice damaged flooring. Other signs of leaky toilet include having to hold the handle down or toilets that flush by themselves. 

However, some leaks are not always noticeable, and it seems like you have to play detective to find them. It is still easy to find toilet leaks by following these tips.

Prepare to Detect the Leak

To detect leaks, gather: 

  • plastic gloves
  • dry cloth
  • pencil
  • screwdriver
  • light food coloring or dye tablet
  • thick towels
  • white paper towels   

Clean the surface of the toilet with a dry cloth, and detach the lid. Lay the lid on thick towels, or prop it carefully against the wall.

Flush the toilet, and wait for the water to rise to the water line. All cleaners should be removed from the bowl, so flush it until the water has cleared.

Do the Dye Test

Squeeze four or five drops of food coloring into the toilet tank, or drop a dye tablet in the tank, attach the lid, and wait thirty minutes. Don't flush the toilet while you wait, and inform other snot to flush it. 

If there is a leak, the water will turn a darker color and leak into the bowl. Wipe the toilet base and under the sides with a paper towel. A dyed paper towel around the base could mean a broken wax ring. If the paper towel picks up dye on the underside, a leaking spud washer, gasket, or fill valve. 

Colored water in the bowl commonly indicates a flapper problem. The flapper could be broken, or it may need adjusting or cleaning. Wearing plastic gloves, try to tighten or loosen the flapper by reinstalling the hook on another chain link.

Don't add more than a half-inch of slack, or make the chain too loose. Repeat the dye test on other toilets, if needed.

Try the Pencil Test

Draw a pencil line on the inside of the toilet at the water line and on the wall behind the tank. Look for the toilet shut off valve behind or behind the toilet, and shut off the water. 

Restore the water after half an hour, and check the pencil line. If the water level comes below the mark, the issue could be the flush valve in the center of the tank. Rotate the adjustment screw with a screwdriver to fix water levels based on the manufacturer's suggestion.

Water marks that stay unchanged usually mean a problem with the refill valve. Adjust the screw on the float arm or slide the float clips or contacts to balance water levels. 

Contact a leak detection service for more help.


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