How To Fix A Leaking Toilet

Do you hear running water long after you flush your toilet? You might be dealing with a a leaky tank that needs immediate repair. Don’t worry, this is actually a problem you can fix yourself. Learn how to fix a leaking toilet with help from our A-Abel Plumbing team.

Tools & Materials Needed:

  • Adjustable wrenches (x2)
  • Screwdriver Set 
  • Gaskets or toilet sealant 
  • Sponges (optional)

Step 1. Get your work area ready

Before you attempt to fix a leaking toilet, make sure you have your workspace ready. Turn off the water supply valve and flush the toilet. Disconnect the supply line from the tank. An optional step is to use a sponge inside the tank to collect water until it’s totally dry. Make sure to have a bucket on hand to catch water. 

Step 2. If you need to replace a fill valve

Using 2 adjustable wrenches, remove the old fill valve. A good idea is to take this part to a home improvement store to ensure you get the right replacement part. If you’re not planning on or needing to replace other parts, get a new fill valve and gasket. Install both parts properly, turn on the water supply line and check for leaking. If leaky, tighten a quarter turn (be mindful not to overtighten to prevent damage). 

Step 3. If you need to replace toilet gaskets

Remove the tank bolt with the right size screwdriver and a wrench. Clean the nuts and bolts with a little white vinegar to remove any built up hard water or other gunk. If you’re not planning to replace the spud washer, reinstall the bolts and nuts with new gaskets (if needed, bring the gasket to a home improvement store to find the right replacement part). As you tighten the nuts, make sure to alternate between sides to evenly tighten the tank tight. If you’re going to replace the spud washer, move on to the next step. 

Step 4. If you need to replace the spud washer

Carefully lift the tank straight up and off the base of the toilet (these are heavier than they look so make sure to have a helper on hand, if you need assistance lifting). Set it upside down either on an old towel on the floor or on a towel in your bathtub (be careful if putting it in your tub to avoid scratching the porcelain). 

Remove the spud washer and take it with you to a home improvement store to find the correct replacement part (you’ve already done a lot of work so far so you don’t want to make a second trip). Install the new spud washer over the flush valve tailpiece. Once installed, you can reinstall the toilet tank back to its base. Add the tank bolts, gaskets, and nuts in correct order. Again, alternating tightening the nuts from side to side so they tighten evenly. 

The Problems With Neglecting a leaking toilet

It is easy for a homeowner to become complacent with minor plumbing problems that don’t seem to be causing much of a nuisance. After living with a small plumbing leak for a short while, the problem tends to be ignored or completely forgotten. This can lead to a number of unwanted consequences.

Undetected Leaks

One common problem that is often overlooked is a toilet that refills itself when not in use. This happens when there is a leak between the tank and bowl. It is often not easy to see and is usually detected when you hear the toilet occasionally make the sound of refilling itself. The length of time between these refills is a good indicator of how much water is being wasted. A very slow leak might only cause your toilet tank to refill once an hour or so. The more often it happens, the worse the leak.

Running Water

Another common problem is a toilet that is constantly running. This problem is usually indicative of a problem with a faulty toilet fill valve, or “ballcock”, not shutting off properly, so water from the tank is constantly filling and spilling into the bowl through the overflow tube.

Though not considered emergencies, these common problems should be addressed quickly. These two issues can add up to significantly higher water bills and potentially result in water damage, caused by condensation from the fixture itself or anywhere along the water supply line because of the constant flow of cold water. Tackling these minor issues early will save money not just on water bills, but on repair costs and potential damage as well. For any plumbing problems large or small, contact us!