How to Tell If Your Toilet Is Leaking

The toilet is a basic necessity in every household and usually performs its role with little trouble. However, this situation can drastically change to your detriment if you fail to treat it right to the extent that it offloads in your house.

leakage of water from the toilet

The following checks will enable you to instantly tell if your toilet is leaking:

  • Establish where the water on the floor of the toilet is coming from at all times
  • Visually inspect your toilet set up for leaks and cracks, paying close attention to trouble spots like the overflow, spud, and flange
  • Stay on the lookout for any evidence of leakage under the floor, including odors, mold, spongy floorboards, and discoloration

To avoid costly structural repairs and irreparable damages, it is imperative to stay constantly updated about the state of your toilet. Today, we shall share all the tricks that will empower you to detect the leaks as soon as they start. Continue reading to learn more.

How Do You Check for Leaks?

Establish Why the Bathroom Floor Is Wet

Check for pooling of water on the floor close to the toilet base. This is usually the first indication that the toilet is leaking. It is not conclusive on its own, however, as it could be a sweaty bowl or spillage from another source.

Dry the floor completely, wipe the toilet with a towel and observe it for a while to see if another puddle forms on the floor.

If another puddle forms, pay close attention to its source. If it seeps out from under the toilet, it could indicate a compromised toilet wax seal. It may also be coming from a faulty valve, a loose pipe, or a crack on the toilet tank or bowl.

Visual Inspection

Inspect the tank and the toilet bowl for cracks through which water might be seeping out. Add some food color to the water tank to enhance the water’s visibility so you can easily tell where it is leaking from by sight.

There are specific points in the toilet assembly where most leakages occur due to the nature of their role. You should take a closer look at them.

Tank Overflow

This happens largely due to the misalignment of the toilet valves. The flush valve allows water to gush into the toilet bowl during flushing. The fill valve, on the other hand, lets water refill the tank after flushing. If you follow the colored water, it should be clear which one is faulty.

If the fill valve does not close after the tank is full, the water will continue flowing into the tank to the point of overflow. If the flush valve doesn’t close completely when you are done flushing, water will keep flowing into the toilet bowl, raising your water bill significantly.

The Closet Spud

A spud is a form of gasket or washer installed between the tank and the seat and connects the two parts of the toilet. It allows water to pass from the tank to the bowl when you flush the toilet.

A faulty, worn-out, or improperly installed closet spud could be one of the reasons the toilet is leaking. The spud is usually tightly fitted between the tank and the seat using gasket nuts, and the compression prevents any form of leakage. A loose bolt or worn-out spud will not be watertight as required, and the water will leak through this joint.

The Closet Flange

The closet flange or toilet flange is the pipe fitting or adapter connecting the toilet drain to the drainpipe used to mount the toilet to the floor. It has a PVC hub and a steel flange attached to the top used for mounting.

The flange will be mounted onto the floor with its hub connecting the drain pipe and the toilet drain. A wax ring is applied to the flange before the toilet is placed on it. The pressure from the weight of the toilet spreads the sticky, malleable sealant rendering the joint between the toilet’s bottom and the flange watertight.

Tee bolts are then used to fasten the toilet on the flange for stability. Some installers apply caulk at the toilet base as an extra sealing measure, so there is no space between the toilet and the floor.

Leakages at the flange are attributed to various reasons, including the misalignment of the toilet drain and drain pipe, a worn out or damaged flange (evidenced by the toilet rocking back and forth), and a damaged or improperly installed wax ring.

Look for Signs of Leakage Below the Toilet

If caulking was professionally done around the toilet, the leak would not be immediately detectable because the point of contact between the toilet and the floor is watertight. The toilet will be leaking from the bottom and will instead damage the subfloor or the ceiling of the room below the bathroom if applicable.

Check for dampness on the floor, sponginess, mold, and rising floorboards around the toilet. The ceiling of the room beneath the toilet or the basement will also exhibit signs of dampness.

An unpleasant odor when nobody uses the toilet could also mean the toilet is leaking even though there is no visible water on the floor. It can be attributed to sewer gases seeping into the bathroom through gaps in the toilet ring seal.

Replacing the Wax Ring

Every time you lift the toilet, whether for maintenance or repairs, you have to replace the wax gasket, regardless of if it was the cause of the leakage.

Ensure you scrape all of the initial wax off the floor flange and the bottom of the toilet using a putty knife or spatula before replacing the toilet, so there are no leakages or unevenness.

plumber in uniform installing toilet bowl using instrument kit

You can now replace the wax ring with a wax-free toilet bowl gasket, allowing you to reposition and adjust the toilet bowl until you are convinced it is lined up perfectly. This is not possible with the wax ring as you will have damaged the seal and have to get another one if you don’t get it right.

They are universal across drain lines and can be used on uneven floors and when you have recessed flanges. You don’t even need to replace this gasket every time you remove the toilet for service, and they are less messy.

The Bottom Line

Exercise vigilance and conduct a regular inspection as some of these symptoms will only be visible after extensive damage. Rotten floorboards, damaged ceilings, and other structural injuries can be costly and disruptive. The very first signs of leakage should spur you to action.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What Causes a Toilet to Leak from The Bottom?

A watertight caulk seal between the toilet and the floor during installation will force the water down below the floor level.

Can a Toilet Leak Without You Knowing?

This is possible in the initial stages if the toilet is leaking from underneath and the installer applied caulk between the bottom of the toilet and the floor. The leakage will get under the floor instead of flowing on it as the caulk is watertight, and you may not notice it until it starts to damage the floor.

Is There a Tool to Detect a Water Leak?

Several tools can detect water leaks and notify you, such as the Govee WiFi water leak detector, which can sound an alarm once their sensors detect a leakage. Nowadays, they can even be connected to your mobile devices to alert you when you are too far to hear the alarm.

How Serious Is a Slab Leak?

The severity of a slab leak will depend on the extent to which the leak reached before it was addressed. However, it can expose you to widespread damage to the walls, flooring, electrical wiring, household appliances, and furniture.

The more the water runs under the house, the more it erodes the soil beneath, making the slab unstable. It may even develop cracks that will grant the water access to your house. All leakages should therefore be given priority as soon as they are detected.

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