How to Fix a Leaking Toilet

Scott English repairing a toilet.If you’re going to fix something, you must first know what it is inside the item that needs fixing. That is why, when dealing with a problematic toilet, one must first make a careful observation in order to discover the problem. If the problem turns out to be external, immediate service is required, as external toilet problems have the tendency to be catastrophic.

Due to the severity of the situation, if one does not take immediate action, a leak might leave behind a numerous different unwanted aftereffects. If the problem is too large for a do-it-yourself, seek the help of a certified professional.

Here are the causes/factors of a leaking toilet and how to fix it:

External Leak

If the leak is external, it is most likely coming from the bottom of the toilet where it meets the floor, or from the back of the toilet at tank level. Use a flashlight to scan the commode for signs of the source of the leak.

If there is water dripping down, the leak is likely coming from an upper area of the toilet. However, if there is no dripping water and the leak worsens after flushing the toilet, chances are your problem has something to do with the seal located around the bottom of the toilet.

Dripping Water

If you notice water dripping down the toilet bowl near the seat, your leak is likely to be the result of a defective seal connecting the bowl and the tank. Whether the leak is coming from the upper regions of your toilet or the base, the water source needs to be shut off at the valve and the toilet should be flushed so that the tank will empty.

Fixing the Leak Yourself

If you are trying to fix the leak yourself, start by tightening the bolts that secure the flange to the commode. However, be sure that you do not tighten them too tightly.

Next, flush the toilet and see whether it still leaks or not. If it does, unfasten and re-drain the toilet; remove the bolts that secure the toilet to the floor, unhook the tank from the water line and remove the commode from the flange.

Examine the surrounding floor and the flange for damage. If you notice any damage you should waste no time in calling a plumber straight away. However, if you can see no evident damage, simply replace the wax ring, which can be purchased at your local hardware store.

When you have purchased a new one, take off the old ring and place the new one on. Put the commode back in, hook the tubing back up, and check to see that it is once again in properly working order.

Tank Problem

If the tank is where your problem lies, begin by tightening the bolts at the tank’s base. But again, make sure not to make them too tight. Refill the tank to see if the toilet still leaks.

If you still notice the leak, unhook the tubes and re-drain the tank; remove the bolts that secure the tank to the bottom of the toilet, and examine the bolts, washers and the gasket that connects the bowl to the tank.

Some Methods for Fixing Tank Issues

Float and Inlet Valve

These are found inside the tank. Normally, when the level of the water rises beyond the overflow tube, the most common cause has to do with the float or the inlet valve of the ballcock. The float is designed to rise with the water level in the tank to signal the inlet valve when it is time to cut the flow.

What happens when the mechanism fails? The water will continue to rise until it eventually spills to the overflow tube and into the bowl. You can flush the toilet to see if the inlet valve will stop the rise of water as the rod gently goes up with the float. If you hear the water flow stop, then the inlet valve is fine, the problem may have to do with the float.

How do you deal with the float? The easiest way is to tinker with the screw found at the top of the ballcock. This allows you to adjust the float level to control the amount of water that can be introduced into the tank. If the water level is too high, there is a tendency to spillover. If the level is too low, you may not achieve the amount of flushing power desired.

Check the condition of the float and the rod. Replacing it is extremely easy and does not cost much.


In order to replace the assembly you will need a pair of slip-joint pliers. By removing the nut that secures the ballcock to the tank you can proceed to remove the supply line connected to the bottom of the ballcock found at the base of the tank.

Lift out the assembly by pushing upwards from the bottom. Drop the replacement ballcock into place and thread on a new nut from the bottom of the tank. User the pliers to tighten it, but make sure that you do not overtighten to avoid cracking the tank.

Attach the supply line afterwards. Make sure that you clip the new refill tube to ensure that it stays in place. Test for leaks.


In case water is flowing into the toilet bowl and all the other components are in good condition, then the possible culprit would have to be the flapper. It may not be the flapper itself, but the area surrounding it.

How do you check if this is the problem? The simplest way to do it is to cut the water supply to the toilet tank. Give it a few minutes and observe if the water is going down. If the water level drops significantly in about 15 minutes, then you are looking at a potential flapper problem.

Commonly, the chain may be too tight. This prevents the flapper from creating a proper seal that would prevent the water in the tank from seeping into the bowl. Replacing the flapper is one of the easiest toilet repairs you can ever do. The important thing to remember is that like any other toilet plumbing repair, the water supply should be turned off completely.

Make sure to clean the flapper seat to remove any debris. Take time to check as well if there are splits or cracks. This should solve your toilet plumbing problems.

If the washers or gasket appears damaged, replace them, or seek the help of a professional.

As you can see, repairing a leak in your toilet is a very complex process that most people feel should be left to a professional. It’s never recommended that you try to repair a toilet on your own because of the complexities involved.

Call Scott English for Help

Contact Scott English Plumbing to help you fix a leaking toilet.

They also offer service on water heaters, toilets and faucets, bathtubs and showers, garbage disposals, water softeners, and more. You’ll never worry about dishonest plumbers again!

With more than 19 years in the business, Scott English Plumbing strives to offer quality service at affordable prices 24 hours a day and seven days a week.

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Toilet Repair