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A toilet in a residential bathroom leaking water into a puddle near the front of its base.

Help! Why Is My Toilet Leaking?

Most people never give their toilet a second thought—as long as it is functioning properly and doing what it's supposed to do. But if there is an issue such as a toilet leaking at the base, or you suspect the tank is leaking into the bowl, it can be a messy, stressful problem that definitely makes you sit up and take notice.

An uncontained leak can easily cost you thousands of dollars in water damage if it is not taken care of right away, and it can also cause serious health risks for your family. A contained leak from tank to bowl isn't as damaging, but it is still costing you a lot of money on your monthly water bill. But why is your toilet leaking? What is causing it? And what should you do to make it stop happening?

If you see your toilet leaking puddles near the base, they are coming from your toilet bowl—and that means they could be unsanitary and filled with potentially harmful bacteria. This is not a problem that can be safely ignored. You need help from a service professional such as the experienced local plumbers at Mr. Rooter Plumbing. Our team has dealt with problems related to toilets leaking, so we have the expertise and equipment to get the job done right the first time.

Why Is My Toilet Leaking Near the Floor?

If your socks get wet every time you flush, something is clearly very wrong. Leaking toilets are unsafe, damaging and just flat-out disgusting, so they need to be repaired as soon as possible. Here's what homeowners need to know about water leaking from under a fixture base.

How to Tell if a Toilet is Leaking at its Base

You may think it's pretty easy to tell if there's a leak around a fixture's base—gross, dirty water all over your bathroom floor should be a dead giveaway. But it can actually be more difficult than it seems to identify what is going on in a scenario like that. A leaking base is definitely a prime suspect. However, it could be related to other issues such as a damaged water supply line or even bathroom condensation.

When you take a hot shower in a bathroom that is not adequately ventilated—for example, one where steam from your shower condenses on surfaces such as the outside of your toilet bowl—water can then drip down and dampen flooring material around your toilet. That could make it seem like your toilet is the problem when really it was poor ventilation all along. That's an issue that needs to be resolved before it causes severe problems like wood rot, which can affect the structural stability of your home, but it doesn't necessarily call for leaking toilet repair.

If you notice water pooling around your toilet, the first thing you should do is try to figure out exactly where it is coming from. Soak up all the water that is on your floor, and then flush and get a good look at what is going on. Can you see water visibly seeping out from underneath your fixture? If so, consider your leaking base diagnosis confirmed.

If you don't see liquid actually coming from underneath your fixture base, take a close look at the pipe line that is coming out of your wall behind your toilet, and examine the water supply valve that should be in that area as well. There could be a leak where a loose water supply line connection reaches your fixture, or the valve itself could be leaking. You also want to check the wall behind your fixture where a supply line comes out for signs of softening or other moisture damage to your drywall. It's possible there is an issue with the pipe on the other side of your wall that is causing water to seep through the drywall and form a puddle near your fixture.

Signs of a Leaking Toilet Base

A puddle of excess water forming every time you flush is a pretty blatant sign, but there are occasionally symptoms that aren't quite so obvious. Other warning signs to watch for that could indicate a leaking toilet base include:

  • The floor around your fixture feels softened and spongy

  • Visible damage to your floor, such as rotting boards, bubbling vinyl or laminate, or cracking, crumbling grout lines

  • Signs of moisture damage on the ceiling of rooms underneath your bathroom, such as brown water stains, patches of softened drywall or water actually dripping through

  • Your toilet rocks or shifts when someone sits on it

  • Condensation on the outside of your tank at all times

  • Nasty odor of sewage gas coming up from around your fixture, especially right after flushing

If you notice any of these symptoms, you should call your local plumber from Mr. Rooter Plumbing right away. Leaks can cause severe damage in a very short amount of time, and anyone who has had to deal with the stress and expense of moisture damage mitigation will tell you it is well worth your time to avoid it.

Causes of a Leaking Toilet Base

So you have established that there's a problem, but what caused it? We won't know for sure until our service professionals have had a chance to investigate in person. Once we've had a thorough look at what's creating all the trouble in your bathroom, we can give you an experienced diagnosis of what exactly is causing problems, and our recommendations on the best course of action to get it resolved quickly and efficiently.

Here are some of the most common causes of a leaking toilet base that may be affecting your plumbing fixture.

  • Loose Tee Bolts: It's possible that bolts holding your toilet to the floor have loosened up over time and the wax ring can't form a watertight seal because it's not being held down firmly. This is likely if your toilet shifts or wobbles when you sit on it. If you take a look at its base, you should be able to see those loose bolts. Nudge or pull them gently. Do they move at all or does your base feel like it's not firmly attached to the floor? That may or may not be causing your water leak, but it is definitely a problem that needs to be corrected. You may be able to handle this yourself if you have some basic tools. Just use a screwdriver or putty knife to pry off the caps, then tighten them up a bit at a time, alternating between left and right. Don't over tighten them, as you could crack the porcelain.

  • Deteriorated Wax Ring: There's a wax ring inside the base of your toilet that forms a waterproof connection where the fixture connects to the wastewater pipe. Over time, the wax ring can become damaged and degraded, allowing wastewater to seep through the connection every time you flush. Luckily, this is a relatively inexpensive fix that usually only requires your plumber to install a new wax ring to get everything running properly again.

  • Misaligned Valves and Pipes: If the places where the valves connect to sewer lines are misaligned, either because they weren't installed correctly to begin with or because they have shifted and suffered damage over time, they could cause a leak and need repairs or replacement.

  • Cracked Bowl: Okay, this one isn't exactly about your toilet base, but it's worth mentioning. If you have a crack in the porcelain of your toilet bowl, it can leak water directly from your bowl before it even gets to the base. Examine the outside and inside of your bowl carefully for any signs of cracks—you may need to use a flashlight, as tiny hairline cracks can be really difficult to see in shiny white porcelain. If this is the case, your fixture needs to be replaced by a professional plumber.

What to Do About a Toilet Leaking at the Base

Regardless of what is causing the issue, this is one of the tasks that is usually better left to an experienced plumber who has the right tools and know-how to take care of toilet repair safely and efficiently. Give our qualified plumbers a call any time of the day or night and we'll have an experienced plumber at your door as soon as possible to restore your bathroom to perfect working order. That way, you don't have to worry about incorrect installation or repairs that will cause even more damage, stress and expense down the road.

Why Is My Toilet Leaking from the Tank?

When your tank is leaking water into the bowl, it's usually nowhere near as disastrous as a base leak—the water is usually contained within your fixture rather than spilling across your bathroom floor. You may be able to see water constantly running down the inside of your bowl, and possibly hear it as well though it's often a nearly silent leak. It may not be as messy, but it's needlessly costing you money and it will likely continue to worsen as time goes on.

How to Test If Your Toilet is Leaking From Tank to Bowl

There are two components of your toilet tank that are likely to cause a constant leak: the flush valve and the toilet fill valve. You can check to confirm what's happening and which part is causing problems by following these steps:

  1. Remove your tank lid.

  2. Put a little food coloring or colored fabric softener in tank water.

  3. Use a pencil to make a mark inside your tank right above its current water level.

  4. Turn off water to your fixture with the shutoff valve located behind it.

  5. Wait 15 minutes.

  6. Take a look at the water in your bowl. If you can see signs of color from fabric softener or food coloring, you know there's a problem.

  7. Look in your tank. If its water level has fallen below the mark you made, the problem is with the flush valve. If your water level hasn't changed, its fill valve is likely causing the issue.

  8. If your flush valve is causing the leak, you may just need to repair the toilet flapper rather than replace the entire mechanism.

Professional plumbers from Mr. Rooter Plumbing can take care of repairs or replacement for flush valves, fill valves and all the other components of your plumbing fixtures.

Why a Running Toilet Can Cost You a Lot of Money

A fixture that is constantly leaking and cycling wasted water can be annoying, but worse than that, it can cause you to basically flush money down the toilet by increasing your monthly utility bill. In fact, as much as 80,000 gallons of water can swirl away down your drain every year from an undetected leaky toilet tank—and you have to pay for it on your water bill.

The water you use—or that your malfunctioning plumbing system uses—is recorded by a usage meter, which is usually located outside where your water main enters the house, or inside near your water heater. One way to check if your costs are being affected by a leaky toilet is to check your water meter. Right before bed, shut off all your faucets and water-related appliances, then make a note of where the indicator on your meter is positioned. The next morning, before you flush that potential leaking toilet or use any other water in your house, go take another look at your meter. If the indicator has changed position or is actively moving while you're looking at it, there's a leak that is draining your wallet.

Do You Need Leaking Toilet Repairs? Call the Professionals at Mr. Rooter Plumbing!

When you need assistance with a leaking toilet in your residence or commercial property, you can rely on the expert service professionals at Mr. Rooter Plumbing. Give us a call to schedule a convenient appointment time and we'll show you why we’re your best choice for trusted, local services like plumbing repair and drain cleaning.

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