A leaky toilet may seem like a crisis, but it can be surprisingly easy to fix yourself. Before you call your plumber in a panic, try the following steps to address common commode issues. Here are four of the most common ways for how to fix a leaky toilet.
How to fix a leaky toilet: Identify the Cause of the Leak
Your first step is figuring out which part of the toilet has the leak.
- Find the shutoff valve on the back of the toilet and twist it to the right to turn off the water supply to the toilet.
- Remove the tank lid and mark the water level inside with a grease pencil or permanent marker to help you monitor the response as you adjust various components of the toilet.
- Add a few drops of food coloring to the water in the tank, let it sit for 10 minutes and check to see if any of the color has appeared in the bowl, which indicates a damaged flush valve.
- If the water level in the tank has gone up, you may have a fill valve issue.
- If you see colored water on the floor, you likely have a leaky gasket or cracked tank; the latter will require a total toilet replacement.
How to fix a leaky toilet: Replacing the Flush Valve
Flush valves are widely available at home improvement and hardware stores as well as online retailers. Once you’ve got your new part in hand, here’s how to install it.
- Turn off the water supply to the toilet via the shutoff valve and flush the toilet to clear the water from the tank. If you still see water in the tank, use a cup or hose to drain it more completely.
- Take off the tank by removing the nuts attached to the toilet bowl and the supply tube, which connects the tank to the wall. Lift the tank off the bowl and set it upside down on a stable surface covered with towels.
- Unscrew the locknut in the middle of the tank’s bottom and push on the flush valve to pop it out.
- Replace the old flush valve with the new one and reattach the lock nut and gasket.
- Set the tank back on the bowl and reconnect the nuts you removed earlier.
- Turn the water supply back on and flush the toilet to ensure everything is working correctly.
How to fix a leaky toilet: Replacing the Fill Valve
Once you’ve acquired a new fill valve, follow the steps below to replace the faulty component.
- Turn off the water supply and empty the tank.
- Disconnect the water supply tube, located just beneath the fill valve on the underside of the tank.
- Use a small wrench or set of pliers to remove the locknut attached to the fill valve.
- Going in through the top of the tank, pull up on the old fill valve to detach it. Be sure the tank is completely empty or any leftover water will leak out onto the floor.
- Slide the new fill valve into the hole and reattach the locknut on the underside of the tank. Reconnect the refill tube to the side of the fill valve and position it over the overflow tube in the tank.
- Reconnect the water supply tube, turn on the water and flush the toilet. The tank should fill correctly without overflowing.
How to fix a leaky toilet: Tightening Loose Gaskets
If water is seeping out from the bottom of the tank, leaky or loose gaskets may be the culprit.
- Turn off the water supply and flush the toilet to empty the tank.
- Look inside the tank and locate the bolts fastening the tank to the bowl. They should be near the flapper in the bottom of the tank and will have rubber washers underneath them.
- Using a flathead screwdriver to hold the bolts in place, access the bolts underneath the tank and turn them clockwise with an adjustable wrench to tighten them.
- Turn the water supply back on, flush the toilet to refill the tank and watch for water escaping near the bolts. If the leak persists, you may need to replace the rubber washers under the bolts inside the tank.
If these steps fail to stop the leakage, it may be time to call in the expertise of a licensed plumber. How to fix a leaky toilet is more common of a question than one would think. Hopefully these tips are enough to get your leaks fixed before the bug guns need to be called out.