Published on May 22nd, 2014 | by Peter Young


How To Check For A Leak In Your Toilet Tank

Identifying and fixing water leaks in your home can add up to some big water and money savings. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 10% of US homes have a leak that wastes 90 gallons of water or more per day! One of the places these leaks might be occurring is in your toilet.

Toilet Flapper

The most common leaks is in the seal on the toilet flapper. If the flapper isn’t in good shape, water will continually run from the toilet tank to the toilet bowl, causing your toilet to be constantly refilling the tank. Basically, it’s like leaving a faucet on 24/7. This is one of the reasons NOT to put a brick in the back tank of your toilet (as some well-intentioned but ill-informed people advise to do as a way to save water) – it can have chips of brick come off over time and get caught under the flapper and eventually create a small tear, which then causes a leak. If you do put something in the back of the toilet make sure it’s for an older toilet (most modern ones are right-sized for optimal water efficiency for #2 at least). And make sure what you put in the back of the tank is a sealed glass or plastic jar, or a product meant for the purpose, like a toilet tank bag.

Back to determining if your toilet has a leak – it is a quick and simple process. Just follow these steps to see if you’ve got a leak in your toilet.

Things you’ll need for the job:

  • Toilet leak test kit (or food coloring)

Instructions: how to test for a leak in your toilet tank 

1. Remove the lid from the toilet tank. With two hands gently lift up on the lid and set it to the side.

2. Pour your test dye or food coloring into the toilet tank. Simply pour the entire contents of your test dye tablet, or add 8-10 drops of food coloring to the water in the toilet tank. After a few minutes, the water in the tank should change to the color of the test dye or food coloring.

3. Wait 15 minutes and check the toilet bowl for the test dye or food coloring. If the water in the toilet bowl matches the color of the water in your toilet tank you’ve got a leak. Odds are, this leak is being caused by an incomplete seal around the toilet flapper. Also, check the floor around the toilet to be sure that no water is leaking from another part of the toilet.

Once you’ve identified a leak, the next step is to see if you can identify its source. If you found a leak in this process above, the odds are it’s the flapper, and if not, it’s in the fill valve. Here’s how to replace a leaky toilet flapper.  If you see water pooling around the base of the toilet, it’s more than likely the wax ring has worn out. Here’s how to check that out and info on fixing the toilet wax ring. If you see water dripping or pooling out of the toilet supply line, check out that link for how to fix that. But if you aren’t that kind of handy-person, your next step, if you have a leak, is to call the plumber. Fixing that leak will pay for the plumber’s service very quickly!

If you’re looking for more ways to save water in your home, try using some of these tips to become a water conservation hero.

Be sure to check out more of our green home improvement projects: Green Living Ideas, after all, is a top 20 home improvement website!

Photos courtesy of Angies List and Ask Me Help Desk.

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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.

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