Do you know that water leaks account for approximately 12% of all water use in the average Brisbane home? This is how serious water leak can be. If your water bill shows unexpected spike and you have not added an appliance at home, then check for a leak in your plumbing system. Toilets are the most notorious for this. They may seem small at the start, but they will surprise you when the bills arrive. Fortunately, most of these leaks are easy to detect. But how do you detect and fix some of these plumbing problems? Here are simple tests and solutions for a leaky toilet tank.
Sight and Sound
A sudden or unexpected spike in your water bill is an indication that your toilet could be leaking. If you haven’t added a new appliance that could have increased water consumption, then check the toilet for the leak. Water bills provide one of the best ways to know whether you have a leaky toilet even without carrying out a physical test. But it’s always good to stop the problem before it reflects on your bills. You can do this by looking and listening every so often, particularly while cleaning your bathroom.
In case your toilet is running, you are likely to hear the flow of water. The severity of the leakage will determine how loud the sound will be. A small leak will produce a faint sound while a big one can be heard clearly. But a small leak doesn’t mean less waste of water. If the listening test fails, try to sport minor water rippling around the edge of your bowl. If you can see some water movement, it’s a good indication that you have a leaking toilet.
A Colour Test
This is the most effective test for a leaky toilet. If your water bill shows an unexplainable spike, carrying out a colour test is be the perfect way to tell whether your toilet is the problem. Here are 4 simple steps how a colour test can detect toilet leaks:
• Remove the tank lid. Some of the tank lids are delicate, and they should be removed carefully to avoid breakage. Lay the lid down on the floor so that it doesn’t fall over. Be very careful with the condensation built up on its underside while handling it.
• Check the tank’s water level. Every toilet tank has a marked line by the manufacturer indicating where the water levels should reach. If it is above that, adjust the ball float and then flush the toilet and allow the tank to refill. Let it stop on its own and confirm if the setting is okay.
• Drop a dye tablet or food dye. Once the tank is refilled, colour the water by dropping a food dye or dye tablet and wait for 15 minutes. DO NOT flush.
• Check the water in the bowl for colour. After 15 minutes are over, test the water in the bowl for the colour. If there are traces of coloured water no matter how small they are, it’s an indication that your toilet is leaking.
Fixing a Leaky Toilet
Once you have identified the leak, having it fixed is the easy part. You will realise that the toilet tank leaks as a result of worn out gasket around the spud washer and the tank bolts or the spud washer itself. Mostly, the two are deteriorated by hard water and mineral. To fix the problem, you need the following tools: small wire brush, a screwdriver, adjustable wrench, sponge, white vinegar, and rags. Here are the key steps to fixing a leaky toilet tank:
• Turn off the shutoff water valve. It will be impossible to work with water still coming into the tank. You might end up flooding the bathroom or the entire house. By turning off the shutoff valve below the tank, it will stop any water coming in.
• Drain the tank. Make sure that the tank is drained completely by flushing and using the sponge to soak any remaining water. Be sure that it is completely dry of ease of its holding while working.
• Unscrew the nuts. There are two sets of bolt and nuts connecting the tank to the bowl. Using the adjustable wrench, hold the nuts located on the underside of the tank bolt and the screwdriver to loosen the bolts inside the tank.
• Remove the tank from the bowl. Depending on the material the tank is made from, you may need a helper to do this. Materials such as porcelain are extremely heavy for one person.
• Replace the old spud washer. A proper functioning washer should always budge. If it’s not budging, remove it using the adjustable wrench and replace it with a new one. Be sure that you have tightened the new spud washer over the spud nut.
• Replace the gasket. Remove the old bolts and gaskets, and clean the areas around the holes on both sides of the tank. This is the stage where you need the wire brush to scrape off the remains of the old bolt gasket on either side of the tank. With the surface thoroughly cleaned, place the new gaskets and be sure that they are firmly held in place by tightening the nuts by your hand until they’re snug.
• Replace the tank on the bowl and tighten the bolts and nuts by alternating side to side (make use of the adjustable wrench and the screwdriver). Make sure that the gaskets are properly seated to prevent another leak. It’s important to avoid over tightening the bolts when reattaching the tank to the bowl since they can easily crack it.
• You can now test for the leak to find out if your toilet repair was successful.
These are simple ways that you can detect and fix a leaky tank. The steps of very simple and you don’t need any special tool to fix the problem. But if after fixing this process the tank continues to leak, just call your local plumber to deal with the problem.