Published on January 21st, 2015 | by Peter Young
Toilet Leaks and Efficiency: Facts, Figures, and Fix How Tos
How much money is getting flushed down your toilet? Learn about the most common types of toilet leaks and how to fix them.
With record droughts plaguing many regions of the world, using our freshwater resources efficiently is becoming increasingly important. Toilet efficiency has improved substantially in recent years, but is it better to fix a leak or to buy a new toilet? How would you know if your toilet is leaking or where the toilet leak is? What about dual-flush toilet converters?
Water Efficiency Facts and Figures
Let’s start with some facts and figures. Did you know that according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) roughly 30% of the water used throughout your home is actually used just to flush your toilet? I know, it’s not a glamorous statistic, but when you take a step back and factor into the equation that every time you flush your toilet it adds to your monthly water bill, it’s enough to make you stop and think.
Just how much money are you (literally and figuratively) flushing down your toilet? The answer might be more than you’d care to know, and to make matters worse, if you have a leaky or inefficient toilet it could be costing you even more.
Before 1992 many of the toilets that were manufactured and installed in homes throughout the U.S. were using anywhere from 3.5 to 5 gallons of water per flush (GPF)! Now, when you compare those older toilets to modern ones (many of which use only 1.28 GPF) there are significant savings to be had.
With EPA Watersense toilets, the efficiency gets even better, with higher pressure flushes yielding full evacuations with even less water. Over the life time of your toilet, you and your family could save over $2,000 by swapping out your old toilet for one that’s more efficient.
Finding Toilet Leaks
Not everyone can run out and pay to have a new toilet installed, but one thing you can do is ensure that the toilet you’re using is running as efficiently as possible. For many toilets, this means eliminating leaks. The three most common types of toilet leaks are in the flapper, the water supply line, and the wax ring under the toilet.
For each type of leak, the first way to try to identify where the leak is coming from is to do a visual inspection. Often, you’ll see evidence of water leaks. This could be consistent staining, mold growing, or actual wet conditions around the supply line or bottom of the toilet.
If you see consistent moisture at the bottom of the toilet, you may have a bad wax ring. If you don’t see any visual signs, you can take a small piece of toilet paper and wipe down the areas that might be prone to leaking. You’ll see moisture show up on the paper much more easily than with the naked eye.
If you don’t spot any leaks this way, but you hear consistent trickling or even intermittent trickling in the back of the tank, odds are your flapper might need replacing.
3 Most Common Toilet Leaks + Repair Resources
Here are the three most common toilet leaks, with links to other Green Living Ideas articles on how to fix them.
While these types of leaks might be common, they are also easy to fix. Just follow the link for each type of toilet leak to learn how to diagnose and fix the leak yourself!
Conserve More Water with Dual Flush Toilet Converters
There are a variety of kits available to convert your conventional toilet to a dual flush toilet.
The technology is not new. In fact it’s been around for decades. The early kits were just downright awful, though, so the industry took a while to take off (people definitely still have a negative connotation of these devices).
I really like the TapNFlush dual flush toilet converter, and have installed three of these in the last two apartments I’ve lived in. Check out that link for a review of the product, with videos on installation and all. Each time you use it, you can dial it in to exactly the amount of water you want to use. This makes the TapNFlush awesome for families which might have people of different sizes and, um, eating capacities.
Toilet photo via Shutterstock