Is a Leaking Toilet an Emergency?
An emergency is a sudden occurrence that requires immediate action and sometimes involves danger.
A leaking toilet may not be considered a plumbing emergency going by the definition above. This is because a leaking toilet isn’t a sudden occurrence and doesn’t usually involve danger.
However, with the rising water bill, property damage, imminent trip and fall, and unsightly toilet appearance that appear over time, a toilet leak becomes a plumbing emergency.
Here are some questions that can help you determine whether a leaking toilet is an emergency or not:
1. Can you use the affected toilet right away?
If yes, I would say the leaking toilet is not a plumbing emergency. As long as the leak can probably wait until the scheduled plumbing appointment, it’s not an emergency.
However, if you already have a flooding toilet, the leak requires an emergency call. In that case, you and other household members must avoid using the toilet after turning off the toilet’s water supply.
2. Can you turn off the water supply to the fixture?
If it’s a minor leak – just trickling sound yet, as long as you can turn off the water valve to stop the leak, it isn’t an emergency. Even if you can apply a quick DIY fix to rescue the situation, you don’t have an emergency.
However, if you need to shut off the main water supply to the house, then you have a plumbing emergency.
3. Will the leak cause more problems?
For a small or silent leak, you may not worry much until the next plumbing appointment. You may even collect the silent leak with a bucket.
But if it’s a large leak or fast trickle, then you’ve got a more serious leak, which is an emergency.
Large leaks can damage either the ceiling or the floor as well as the adjoining walls.
4. Can you easily fix the leaking toilet?
Most times, leaks that you can easily fix shouldn’t always turn into an emergency.
If the property is yours or it’s your responsibility to fix any issue, and if the leak is what you can handle, fix it ASAP. You don’t need to wait until it becomes an emergency.
Why Does Toilet Leak Silently?
Now that you understand that a leaking toilet can become an emergency, especially if immediate attention is not given.
Let’s look into the various reasons why toilets can leak silently. The main reasons can be grouped into two – flush valve problems and fill valve problems.
Flush Valve Problems
Flush valve problems are the most common reasons for toilet leaks. These problems include:
A flapper is a rubber/plastic seal that acts as a barrier in the flush valve assembly. When resting, it prevents the water in the toilet tank from going into the toilet bowl. When pulled, water goes into the toilet bowl to flush it.
However, the flapper can crack, wear out, or warp over time. If any of these happens, the flapper will no longer be able to block water effectively.
As a result, water will silently leak from the tank into the toilet bowl.
Sometimes, a good toilet flapper may stick in the open position. This may be due to dirt/debris or a bad lift chain.
If this happens, the flush lever may become unresponsive and water will escape continuously from the tank into the bowl.
Faulty Flush Valve Seal
Another problem is a faulty flush valve seal. In most toilets, the flush valve seal is located in between the flush valve assembly and the toilet tank. It’s fitted under the flush valve assembly above the winding.
In modern toilets, the flush valve seal is located under the flush valve float/ball. When this seal becomes faulty, a leaking toilet is inevitable.
Fill Valve Problems
Fill valve problems can also cause your toilet to leak silently. These include:
Bad Toilet Float (ball cock, cylinder, cup)
The toilet float is part of the fill valve assembly and monitors the water level in the toilet tank. It stops the water supply into the toilet tank once the water reaches a certain level in the tank.
A damaged or misadjusted toilet float may cause the toilet tank to overflow, leading to a toilet leak.
Faulty Fill Valve
If the toilet float is working fine but there is still an overflow, the fill valve is possibly faulty – damaged, cracked, or corroded.
A damaged, cracked, or corroded fill valve will cause excess water to flow into the tank, leading to an overflow.
Aside from the main reasons above, other reasons include:
Broken or Worn-out Compression Nuts
The compression nuts are plumbing fixtures that secure the internal components of the toilet tank firmly to the tank’s body.
The compression nuts are located under the toilet tank and hold the fill valve and flush valve firmly in position.
With time, these compression nuts may lose their seal, causing water to leak out from the tank slowly.
Damaged Toilet Tank or Toilet Bowl
The toilet tank and bowl are made of porcelain or ceramic. A heavily used toilet tank or bowl can easily get cracked for any reason.
A cracked toilet tank or bowl is damaged and will leak water.
Worn-out or Rust Tank Bolt
Water can also leak silently from the tank bolts. This happens when the tank bolts are worn-out, rusted, or loose.
Broken or Worn-out Connector
A connector tightly connects the water hose to the fill valve under the toilet tank. Just like the compression nuts, a connector can also break or wear out and cause water to leak out.
Cracked Water Supply Line
A water supply line can crack over time or due to high-water pressure. Once the water supply line is cracked, it will leak water silently on the toilet floor.
How to Fix a Silent Toilet Leak?
A silent toilet leak must be fixed immediately before it causes big damage to your bathroom. This step-by-step guide will help you to fix a silent toilet leak.
Perform a leak test
This will enable you to know exactly where the leak is coming from and take necessary actions immediately.
Place a toilet tablet into your filled toilet tank and wait for about 15 minutes. If you find the colored water in the toilet bowl, you have a leaking toilet tank.
Either the fill valve or the flush valve is faulty. Remove the tank lid and check for water entering the overflow tube. Carefully check if water is oozing from the body of the fill valve or flush valve.
Also, check whether the flapper sits properly, the seal is not damaged, and if the toilet float is functioning properly.
If you detect the culprit, change it immediately. You may need to change the whole fill valve or flush valve assembly if necessary.
Check beneath the toilet tank
If you find colored water on the toilet floor, then neither the fill valve nor flush valve is faulty.
If yes, tighten them further with a screwdriver and/or wrench if they feel loose. However, if they are broken, rusted, or worn out, get a replacement.
Change the toilet tank or bowl
If a cracked toilet tank or bowl is the culprit. The only solution is to replace the faulty tank or bowl with a new one. It’s not possible to fully fix cracked porcelain or ceramic tank or bowl.
Call on a professional plumber
If after the test, you realize that nothing is wrong with any part of the toilet tank and bowl, a faulty connector or water supply line may be the cause.
We don’t recommend a DIY solution to solve this problem. Instead, call on a professional plumber to fix it for you.
More so, if your toilet is leaking but you aren’t able to find out the exact cause or source, get a professional plumber to help you pinpoint the culprit and apply the right fix.