Leaky toilets are among the last problems you want to encounter in your bathrooms. Not only can a leaky toilet damage indoor property and furnishings, but the leakage can also expose your family to harmful contaminants and raise your water bill. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), leaks within the typical household can account for 10,000 gallons of water wasted annually, and 10% of households have leaks that lose up to 90 gallons of water every day.
But what happens if your toilet suddenly begins to leak uncontrollably? A look at the potential causes of a toilet leak can point you in the right direction for the most effective solutions.
Toilet Leaking From the Base
Toilet water leaking from the base poses significant property damage risks and can expose your family to harmful bacteria. A professional plumber can accurately pinpoint the source of this issue. If you’ve already cleaned your bathroom and still discover water on the floor, a visible leak from under the fixture confirms a significant problem with the bowl and base. In this case, a plumber can discuss repair options or the need for hardware replacement.
If there’s no visible water around the base, a plumber can inspect the pipeline leading from the wall behind your toilet and examine the water supply valve in that area. Leaks may originate from damage or malfunctions where the water supply line connects with the fixture or due to a faulty water supply valve. Additionally, the plumber will check the wall behind your toilet base for signs of damage. Plumbing issues or damaged pipes behind the wall may be responsible for substantial leakage and floor pooling.
Signs of a Leaking Toilet Base
Recognizing a potential toilet leak can be challenging if you’re not a plumber. While a visible puddle upon each flush is a clear indication of a leak, other, less obvious signs should also raise concerns. Experts recommend keeping an eye out for subtler indicators. For instance, you might notice that the floor around your toilet feels soft and spongy, a telltale sign of persistent water damage. Additionally, visual cues such as rotting boards, wrinkled laminate, or cracked grout lines all signify excess moisture in your bathroom.
If your bathroom is located on an upper floor, you might even observe signs of water damage in rooms beneath it, like brown water stains or crumbling drywall on the ceiling. If this is the case, immediate contact with a plumber is crucial to prevent accidents or emergencies. Other signs to be aware of include persistent condensation on the toilet hardware’s exterior, which often indicates a small but continuous leak requiring inspection and repair.
Moreover, a toilet that wobbles or shifts when someone sits on it signifies extensive damage, typically necessitating floor repair or toilet hardware replacement. Finally, if you detect sewage gas coming up from the toilet after flushing, it’s a strong indicator of a leak and pipe damage, prompting the need for a plumber to conduct a video inspection and perform necessary repairs.
Causes of a Leaking Toilet Base
There are several common causes of a leaking toilet base. These causes include loose tee bolts, damaged wax rings, misaligned valves or pipes, or a faulty bowl. Scheduling a diagnosis session with a plumber can identify the exact cause and determine the right course of action.
Loose Tee Bolts
Tee bolts are the fasteners that hold your toilet to the floor. These bolts can wear out over time or due to environmental damage. If they become loose, the wax ring cannot form a watertight seal because the tee bolts are no longer holding the toilet down firmly. A telltale symptom of this occurrence is a toilet that shifts or wobbles when you sit down on it. Fortunately, a plumber can reattach or replace loose connections and bolts. You should not attempt to work on connections yourself as over-tightening these fasteners can crack the porcelain.
Damaged Wax Rings
The role of the wax ring is to create a waterproof attachment where your toilet connects to the wastewater pipe. It is located within the base of your toilet fixture. As your hardware ages, however, this wax ring can degrade or deteriorate with use. This deterioration eventually allows wastewater to seep through this attachment each time you flush. Unfortunately, this water leakage can expose your family to toxins and bacteria. It is important to contact a trained plumber to install a new ring that allows your hardware to flush correctly again.
Misaligned Valves or Pipes
Your toilet base contains valves that connect to the main sewer line. Unfortunately, this valve can shift position or become damaged with age. In some cases, these valves can also move around if someone has failed to install the toilet correctly in the first place. Problems with interior hardware valves or your sewer mainline definitely require help from a plumber. A plumbing technician can tell you whether it is possible to replace individual parts or if you should opt for new toilet hardware.
Faulty Toilet Bowl
If there is a crack in your toilet bowl, water can seep out and it will appear to leak from the base. Some hairline cracks are hard to see with the naked eye, but a constantly damp toilet bowl often means that a crack is the culprit. Plumbers have the equipment to repair the faulty bowl, or you may decide to upgrade to a new toilet altogether.
What to Do About a Leaking Toilet Base
Regardless of the cause of toilet water leaking from the base, experts recommend getting a plumber to diagnose the issue. The reason is that plumbers have the equipment and sanitation training to deal with issues that may involve your sewer line. Attempting to address a toilet base issue yourself can inadvertently cause germs, bacteria, microbes, or pathogens to spread. In addition, some issues require the replacement of the unit and proper toilet installation requires a professional who understands complex plumbing connections.
Toilet Leaking From the Tank
When the toilet leaks from the tank instead of the base, the water often remains contained within the fixture instead of puddling across the floor. Some homeowners also notice water trickling down the sides of the tank or constantly flowing down the inside of the bowl. In fact, some people confuse a tank leak with the pipes “running” and may not consider doing anything about it until they notice a spike in their water bills. The two components most likely to cause a tank leak are the flush valve and the toilet fill valve.
The flush valve is the part that allows water to gush into the bowl each time you flush, and the fill valve allows the water to refill and controls the water level in the tank. Damage to either part can cause leaks. For example, the fill valve has a float attached to it. If this float is worn out, the valve can leak and cause tank water to eventually overflow into the toilet bowl.
What to Do About a Leaking Toilet Tank
While water leaking from the tank may not seem as dramatic as water seeping from the toilet base, it is still important to fix the issue as soon as possible. In the long run, toilet tank leaks can damage the system. If you allow it to leak long enough, you will eventually need to replace your entire toilet valve assembly. Reach out to a plumber early to correct leaking tank issues.
Contact Us Today
Toilet leaks can raise water bills and put the health of your family at risk. Black-Haak is here to help resolve any toilet plumbing problems. Our technicians service households in Fox Valley, WI, and surrounding areas. We offer inspection, pipe repair, toilet troubleshooting, and new toilet installation. Similarly, we offer drain cleaning, drain repair, and sump pump repair. If you have problems with your water heater, we offer diagnosis as well as tankless water heater installation. ContactBlack-Haak today for all plumbing needs.