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Even if your toilet doesn't have any of the above symptoms, it's still
possible that it is leaking. These leaks are known as SILENT
LEAKS, because they usually go undetected. There is an easy test
you can do that will positively tell you whether or not your toilet is
leaking.   If the test shows that the toilet is leaking, there is a
second test that tells you what part inside the tank is responsible
and needs fixing.  

Remove the cover on the toilet tank and carefully set it aside so it
can't be accidentally knocked over and cracked.  Remove any "in-
tank" bowl cleaners that color the water and begin the test with
clear water in the tank as well as in the bowl.

You'll need some dye. Some municipal water companies will
provide dye capsules or tablets, but food coloring or instant coffee
works fine. Another option is to use several tablespoons of a
powdered fruit drink mix; grape flavored is perfect.  Now put enough
dye in the tank water to give the water a deep color.  Wait 30
minutes and make sure nobody uses the toilet.  In 30 minutes if you
find any of the dyed water is now in the toilet bowl -- your toilet is
leaking.  A properly operating toilet will store water in the tank
indefinitely without any water running into the bowl.  A lot of folks
think that if a toilet is leaking, there has to be water on the floor.  
Water on the floor around a toilet is certainly a problem.  It can be
dripping off a sweaty toilet tank during humid weather; it can mean
the wax sealing ring under the bowl has disintegrated, or the bowl
is cracked; or it can mean the connections under the tank are
leaking.

So for now, let's say you've done the dye test and found your toilet
is leaking, you now have to find out which part is the culprit ... the
flush valve or the refill valve. There’s  another simple little test that
points to the perpetrator of the crime.

Draw a pencil line on the back wall of the tank on the inside of the
tank at the waterline. Then turn the water supply off, either under
the tank or at the main shutoff ~~ wait 20 to 30 minutes.  If the
water level remains at the pencil mark ~~ the leak is occurring at
the REFILL VALVE, the unit in the left side of the tank.  If the water
level falls below the pencil mark ~~ the leak is in the FLUSH
VALVE, the unit located in the center of the tank.

If you have determined the leak is at the flush valve and you
replace the ball, flapper, seal or whatever and it still leaks, there is
turn the water off to the toilet before going to bed.  In the morning,
check the water level.  If there's about an inch in the bottom of the
leak is either a bad stopper (ball, flapper or whatever) or a
damaged seat.  On the other hand, if the tank is almost entirely
tank and the water level is even with the edges of the seat, the
empty, and the water level is below the edges of the seat, the
problem is a damaged gasket under the flush valve. This means
the tank will have to be separated from the bowl in order to get to
the connections.

If you don't have more than one bathroom and must use the toilet
during the night, flush the toilet with a bucket of water from the
bathtub.  Fill a scrub bucket with water and dump the water into
the bowl all at one time. It will clear the bowl.

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Mr. Fix-It™

  Signs of a leaking toilet

  • If you have to hold the handle down to allow the tank to empty.

  • If you see water running over the top of the overflow, you
    definitely have a leaking refill valve. If you are unsure whether or
    not water is running over the top of the overflow pipe; sprinkle
    talcum powder on top of the water in the tank, and you can
    clearly see whether or not it is.

  • If you can see water trickling down the sides of the toilet bowl
    long after it's been flushed.

  • If water drips out of the refill tube into the overflow pipe.

  • If a toilet turns the water on for 15 seconds or so without you
    touching the handle, this is otherwise known as the phantom
    flusher.
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