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You Could Be Losing Dollars from a Leaky Toilet

A toilet that“keeps running” after you flush can waste thousands of gallons of water a year. Toilet leaks can range from small to large, constant or random. Many are even silent. Even a small, silent leak can easily waste $50 per year in water and sewer costs. Large leaks can waste much more. Fortunately, most toilet leaks are relatively easy to fix. In a properly functioning toilet, no water should move from the tank to the bowl, unless the toilet is being flushed. A leaking toilet loses water from the tank to the bowl without being flushed.

Checking a Toilet for Leaks

It is a good idea to check for a leaking toilet at least once a year. Follow these three easy steps. 

  1. Remove the TANK lid.
  2. Put 5-10 drops of food coloring in the TANK. Put lid back on but don’t flush it yet.
  3. After about 10 minutes, look in the BOWL. If you see color, you have a leak.

The main causes of a leak are either a “fill valve” that will not shut off or a bad “flapper.” 

Fill Valve Problem

A fill valve problem will cause water to flow over the “overflow tube”, either because the water level is set too high or it won’t shut the water off. If you can’t adjust the water level lower or can’t get the fill valve to shut off, replace the fill valve. Pedestal fill valves are considered more reliable than the ball and float type.

Bad Flapper

If you had water run into the bowl during the dye test and the water level is not set too high, your flapper is probably leaking and it should be replaced. If your old flapper has a float on the chain, make sure your new one does too (or put the old float on the new chain).

When replacing a toilet flapper, remember that it is very important to replace it with the proper flapper model for your toilet. Using a standard flapper in many 1.6 gallon toilets can make the toilet flush up to 3.5 gallons per flush (except FlushStar models).

You can learn more about leaks and other water saving tips at The environment and your pocketbook will thank you.