Conservation Toilet Leaks and Efficiency: Facts, Figures, and Fix How Tos

Published on January 21st, 2015 | by Peter Young

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Toilet Leaks and Efficiency: Facts, Figures, and Fix How Tos

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.

1. Fixing a leaky toilet flapper

2. Fixing a leaky water supply line

3. Fixing a leaky wax ring

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

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About the Author

graduated from Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) with a degree in journalism and has made sustainability and eco-conscious living mainstays of both his professional and personal life. It was during his time at PLU that he began his journey with sustainability and it's what has led him to writing for Green Living Ideas. He currently resides in Honolulu and works for Pono Home, an energy efficiency company focused on reducing carbon emissions and promoting a healthier, greener lifestyle.



  • A majority of home owners do not notice a leaky toilet flapper. Have a handy man or plumber check it out, a few minutes can save you hundreds through a years time.

    John A,
    Owner
    Pacific Coast HVAC
    http://pacificcoastheatingandair.com

  • Ron C

    Leaky toilet flappers can cost you hundreds a year, have a plumber take a look at it. You could save yourself money. If you hear water running when no one has used the restroom then most likely you have a leaky Flapper Valve its happened in our offices alot.

    Ron Cooper,
    Manager
    Helping Hand HH
    http://helpinghandhomehealth.com/

  • Rom

    Well written leaky toliet flappers cost many people a lot of money each year. Having plumbers and handy men there to assist does likely help and make all the difference for many people.

    Romar H.
    Director
    Blue Diamond Home Care
    http://bluediamondhomecare.com/

  • If you are flushing Toilet Paper or (God forbid) Wet Wipes down your toilet then you are wasting money when you could be enjoying superior hygiene with a Hand Bidet Sprayer. Using water is 10X cleaner, healthier and better for the environment. And yes it’s even more efficient in a drought, just Google toilet paper manufacture and see how much water they use!

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