Fixing a leaky toilet requires some detective work because the problem isn’t always that obvious. So, finding the cause of the leak means taking off the lid of the tank and going through the different working pieces and checking to see what is worn out or damaged. Surprisingly, this can be the easiest and cheapest home repair to make. Here are a few common problems that you should be able to fix yourself:
If the toilet is continuously running, remove the tank lid and check the float arm. Reach in and lift it up. If the water stops running, you’ve found the problem. Adjust the screws or bolts to the inlet float valve until the water stops flowing.
Also, check to make sure that end of the refill overflow tube is standing above water. If it isn’t, gently pull the tube upward until it is. If the toilet still keeps running, shut off the water supply to the tank and flush the toilet a few times to drain the water.
Take off the inlet float valve, which works with the float arm to refill the tank, and see if any parts are worn out. If they are, you will have to replace them.
Plunger Ball and Flush Valve
If the toilet periodically refills without flushing, examine what is called the ball stopper or the flush valve.
First, place a few drops of food coloring in the tank. Do not flush. Wait ten minutes. If you find coloring in the bowl, then you probably have something wrong with the plunger ball or flapper valve in the bottom of the toilet tank. This is the stopper that prompts the flow of water from the tank to the bowl.
Look at the lever or chain that operates the plunger ball when the handle is flushed. If the rods are crooked, gently straighten them.
For toilets having a chain-pull attached to the flush valve, make sure the chain is slack when the valve is seated to insure a snug fit. A flapper valve must sit securely in the seat in order to keep the water from flowing from tank into the bowl.
If there is corrosion that is preventing the valve or stopper from sitting correctly in the seat, clean both pieces with steal wool.
If the plunger ball or flush valve itself is worn out, replace it. These parts can be purchased inexpensively at a home improvement center and don’t require any special knowledge to install.
To replace these parts with new ones, turn off the water by using the shut-off valve at the base of the toilet. Flush the toilet a few times to get rid of the water and then use a towel to wipe up the remaining water in the tank. Make sure to purchase the right pieces for your particular toilet. If you can, try to buy them in a kit. This way, you get a diagram, instructions for your particular model and extra parts if you need them.
Water Leaking From Under the Toilet
If you notice water leaking out from under the toilet, the wax ring that seals the toilet to the flange has probably somehow managed to spring a leak. The good news is that the part that you need, a new wax ring, is less than ten dollars.
The bad news is that you have to shut off the toilets water supply, drain the entire toilet and remove the tank and the base in order to put the new seal back in place. This repair doesn’t require a plumber, but you will need some patience and definitely some help with lifting.