Fixing ThingsHome & Garden

Toilet Tank Constantly Running Or Leaking?… Toilet Tabs With Bleach Might Be The Problem

fix-leaky-toiletLooks like we’re having minor toilet troubles… again!

Our house (and everything in it) is only 5 years old.

We have 3 toilets, and I’ve already been through the “changing of the toilet seat” routine with them all.

Now, 2 of them have been constantly dripping water in the toilet tank.

Here’s what I’ve learned about toilets constantly running…


Things That Make You Go Hmmm…

In our case, I can tell the leak is at the flapper because when you use your hand to apply pressure to the flapper itself, the dripping stops.

I guess it’s just not a perfectly tight seal there anymore.

The first thing that came to mind was this: of our 3 toilets, the 2 that are leaking are the ones we placed those bleach-powered toilet-cleaning tabs inside the tank.

We only did it twice (…and the entire house wreaked of bleach for weeks each time, a drawback in and of itself).

But the toilet we didn’t put a bleach-powered cleaning tab in isn’t leaking.

So I wondered if there was any correlation.

I finally found this:

“In-tank cleaners (tablets or jars) that release bleach to the tank water expose tank parts to elevated chlorine levels that can damage part components. Excessive chlorine levels can warp, weaken or corrode materials used in tank parts. Resulting failure can range from inefficient flushes to wasteful leaks to major flooding and property loss.FluidMaster

They recommend using the Flush & Sparkle toilet bowl cleaning system which ‘isolates cleanser from tank water so tank parts aren’t damaged by the detergents or bleach used by other in-tank cleaners.’


fluidmaster-flush-n-sparkle-toilet-bowl-cleaning-system.jpg fluidmaster-flush-n-sparkle-toilet-refill-cartridges.jpg

What We Did To Stop The Leak

For the quick fix, we shut off the water to one of the toilets late last night.

When we checked the water level in the tank first thing this morning… it was entirely empty!

In a matter of 5 hours the tank of that toilet had drained itself dry — one drip at a time.

Then, we shut off the water completely in the 2nd toilet (that we didn’t think was leaking as badly), and 1 hour later that tank was bone dry!

Looks like we’ve been wasting more water than we realized.

A “running” toilet can waste 2 gallons of water per minute (…that’s 96,000 gallons a month). A “silent leak” in a toilet can waste up to 7,000 gallons of water per month. — EBMUD and This Old House


…Who knew?

an-empty-toilet-tank.jpgSo now, we’re feeling terribly stupid about all the water we’ve wasted over the past few months.

Then again, there is light at the end of the tunnel. We can’t wait to see next month’s water bill. I’m envisioning quite a savings!


Enough Wasted Water To Fill A Swimming Pool?

I got to thinking, maybe this is our swimming pool! What I mean is… we got a letter from Williamson County, TN a few months ago that said:

We notice that you’ve been using a lot of water lately. We’re sending this letter just to let you know — in case you have a leak or something. Or, perhaps you’ve installed a swimming pool?

We just brushed it off, thinking all our water usage that month was during Tennessee’s worst drought when we were watering the lawn quite a bit (…before the community-wide water ban).

But now, we’re thinking that our 2 dripping toilets might have actually amounted to a good deal of wasted water — maybe even a swimming pool sized amount of water!

Unfortunately, we didn’t really notice the drips until recently — when they started dripping more loudly and more quickly.


The Permanent Fix

We’ll most likely have to replace the flappers or the entire flush valves on those 2 dripping toilets. (Jim’s out of town quite a bit in the coming weeks, so we’ll see if I’m brave enough to tackle it myself — like the time I fixed the dishwasher.)

UPDATE: See how we fixed our 2 leaky toilets.

I’m not sure if 5 years is the standard length of time when a flapper goes out or not, but in our case it is.

Then again, the toilet tabs (mentioned above) might have sped up the aging process a bit by weakening the rubber flapper and causing gaps large enough to permit water to slip through. Who knows?

Leaking toilets may cause more water waste than any other fixture in the home. Even a silent toilet leak (that’s one you normally can’t hear) will waste from 120 to 2000 litr. of water per day, while the ones you can hear will waste much, much more. Such wastage can normally be attributed to a faulty water level adjustment or to a leaky flapper. Source

My next step is to research a number of different “fixes”. Here are some that look good: