Dealing with a leaking toilet is a task that many people prefer to leave in the hands of a plumber. While it is true that the leak may be caused by problems that require the attention of a professional, that is not always the case. Before you call in reinforcements, take a little time to see what you can do to repair the leak yourself. Here are some tips on how to begin.
It is important to note that there is more than one reason for a leaking toilet. The problem may be nothing more than a deteriorated wax ring that needs replacing. At other times, the origin of the issue may be the float arm, flush valve, or the ballcock in the tank. When the leak is due to some component that can be replaced with relative ease, there is a good chance you can do the work yourself.
One of the more common examples of a leaking toilet is a tank that seems to refill even when the toilet has not been flushed recently. An easy way to determine if the float arm or flush valve is not working properly it to place a few drops of food coloring in the water tank. If after ten minutes or so there is evidence of food coloring in the bowl, that means the flush arm and ballcock is not working as it should, or that the flush valve at the bottom of the tank is no longer completely closing. Fortunately, both these problems can be fixed by replacing the defective parts. Many hardware stores carry tank kits that contain everything needed to address this type of leak.
However, if water colored with the food coloring puddles below the tank, your leaking toilet problem may be a hairline crack along the bottom of the tank. While there are sealants that will address the problem in the short term, the tank should be replaced eventually.
The tank may not be the origin of the leaking; instead, the problem may focus on the bowl. If you notice some seepage of water on the floor surrounding the bowl, there is a good chance that the wax ring creating the between the toilet bowl and the discharge pipe needs replacing. While this does require shutting off the water supply, draining the tank, and moving the bowl to replace the ring, this is something that many homeowners can accomplish with a little time and determination.
However, if the leaking toilet is due to cracks in the bowl, the time has come to call a plumber and buy a new toilet. While sealants may buy some time with a cracked tank, they are not recommended for cracked bowls. In order to prevent damage to your flooring, the bowl should be replaced as quickly as possible.
Keep in mind there are ways to handle minor issues that result in a leaking toilet. However, know your limits. If the problem is beyond the scope of your skills, don’t waste time and money trying to fix it yourself. Call in a professional and turn your attention to other matters.