One of the most costly household wastes of water is a leaky toilet. According to the American Water Works Association, toilets account for 45 percent of all indoor water use in a typical residence. It is estimated that 20 percent of all toilets leak. A serious toilet leak left undetected and uncorrected for any length of time can result in both a huge loss of water and money. If your bill has been creeping steadily higher, you hear the sound of water coming from your toilet long after flushing, or your toilet seems to flush by itself for no apparent reason, you could have a leak. Prompt action may result in large savings of water and money.
Simple Leak Detection Tests
How do you tell if your toilet is leaking? A worn out tank ball, overflow, or defective valve assembly cause most toilet leaks. Some leaks can be heard by the sound of running water but some leaks are silent and often go undetected. To discover a silent leak, put dye tablets or food coloring in the tank. Do not flush. If, after a half hour, colored water appears in the bowl, you have a leak.
Another easy detection test is to note the water level in the tank after flushing by making a pencil mark at the water line. After a few minutes, check the level. If it has dropped, you have a leak.
Finding the Culprit
Most toilet leaks are caused by a faulty valve (also known as "flush valve ball" or "tank stopper"). A flapper valve should be replaced every 3 to 5 years. Most hardware, plumbing and home improvement stores supply flappers.
Another problem source can be the ballcock which is located inside the tank behind the flush handle. If the water stops running when the float ball rod is gently lifted, there may be a problem. Float balls occasionally need to be adjusted or replaced. They can also be easily fixed with replacement parts from your local hardware or home improvement store.