How to Stop a Leaking Toilet: 3 Effective Step-by-Step Steps

By: Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
Updated on: September 22, 2020

A leaky toilet drives up the water bill, and it sets the stage for soaked flooring, rotted baseboards and moldy sheetrock – so you have to deal with this issue fast!

A leaking toilet isn’t a complicated piece of equipment. You can take care of leaks by yourself, but you have to pinpoint their source.

Our Chicago water damage restoration professionals put together this guide to help you to identify and fix common toilet leak problems.

How to Fix a Leaking Toilet Tank

A constantly running toilet can waste as much as 200 gallons of water a day. Jiggling the handle to make it stop is only a temporary fix.

Instead, remove the tank lid, flush the toilet, and follow these steps.

Step 1 – Watch What Happens

If water fills the tank and then continues to spill into the overflow tube, you’re dealing with a faulty float or flapper.

If water sprays out of the ballcock assembly, it needs replacement.

Step 2 – Adjust the Ball Float

Older toilets operate with a ball float that’s suspended on a rod secured by an adjusting screw. Turn the screw clockwise to lower the float and the water level.

This fix is much more accurate than good old bending of the float rod.

Step 3 – Lower the Float Cup

Newer toilets control tank water level with an all-in one float cup mechanism.

To stop constantly running water, lower the float cup’s elevation by turning its adjustment screw counterclockwise.

Step 4 – Inspect the Chain and Flapper

Turn off the toilet’s water supply, and then flush to empty the tank. F

ix any tangles in the flapper chain, and make sure the flapper drain is clear of debris.

If the flapper is worn, replace it to ensure a tight seal around its drain.

Step 5 – Replace the Ballcock Assembly

If the ballcock assembly constantly sprays water, empty the toilet tank as described in step 4. Disconnect the water supply line from the tank, and remove the outside nut attached to the bottom of the ballcock.

Push the ballcock up to remove, replace it with a new mechanism, and reattach the nut and supply line.

Power Tip – If you’re replacing an old ballcock assembly, it’s easier to install a float-cup kit. These new models are inexpensive and come bundled with replacement parts.

How to Fix Leaking Toilet Tank Bolts

Water dripping behind the toilet quickly creates a wet environment that encourages unhealthy mold growth. To repair this type of leak, you have to determine its source.

Step 1 – Empty the Toilet Tank

Turn off the water supply valve, and flush the toilet until the tank empties. Place old towels on the floor under the leaking area while you work.

Step 2 – Check the Ballcock’s External Connection

If the drip is around the ballcock’s external connection, gently tighten the nut that secures it to the supply line. Turn the water supply back on, but be prepared to replace the ballcock mechanism if the leak persists.

Step 3 – Replace the Supply Line and Valve

To repair a leaky supply line valve, disconnect it, and replace its old valve with a stainless steel model. If water drips from the line, change it out with a replacement made of braided stainless steel.

Step 4 – Look at the Tank Bolts

If these attachments are the source of your leak, carefully tighten them. If the leak continues around the bolts, replace their rubber washers inside the tank.

Power Tip – When you shop for replacement parts, take the old hardware with you. This strategy makes it easy to pick up the right shapes, sizes and lengths.

How to Fix a Leaking Toilet Base

You don’t usually notice this type of leakage right away. Water seeping from around the base of a toilet slowly soaks flooring and often causes long-term damage.

Step 1 – Tighten the Anchor Bolts

These fasteners secure the toilet to the floor and ensure a tight seal around the flange and wax ring between the toilet and the waste line. Remove their covers and carefully tighten them with no more than one full turn.

Step 2 – Monitor the Area

Check the floor around the toilet several times a day, and run fans in the room to speed up the drying process. If the area is still wet after a day or two, don’t try to tighten the bolts a second time.

Step 3 – Replace the Wax Ring

Water seeping around the toilet base is often the result of a failed wax ring around the flange. To replace it, empty the tank, shut off the water supply and unbolt the toilet base. Lay the fixture on old newspapers, and replace the wax ring. Carefully reposition the toilet over the waste line, bolt it into place, and reconnect the water supply.

Power Tip – Moving a toilet by yourself can be heavy work, so ask a friend to help you handle the load. Consider replacing the old fixture with an EPA-approved upgrade that holds down monthly bills.

Dealing with a Leaking Toilet in Chicago, IL or the Suburbs? We’re Here to Help!

Most homeowners are pleasantly surprised when they fix their first leaky toilet. It’s usually an easy project, and replacement parts are inexpensive.

We hope that our guide helps you conquer your next leaky toilet, but we know how quickly a small problem can flood the house. If your bathroom fixture does its worst, contact ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba.

We’re here for you 24/7 with professional water damage repair and mold removal for your Chicago home. Just give us a call at 773-647-1985