Fixing a Leaky Toilet

The thing with home ownership is that there is always something to fix. Whether it's a broken storm door screen or holes in the drywall, it's always something new and different.

This time, as the title suggests, we tackled the leaky toilet in the master ensuite.

This is something we first noticed in the middle of our extremely cold winter. The toilet would drip once in a while. Not knowing what it could be, we opened up the toilet and looked at the flushing mechanism. Not sure what we were looking at, we looked for anything that could be dripping. Nothing. We listened while the toilet was opened. Nothing.

Figuring it was nothing, we closed it back up and continued on.

It would be fine for a few weeks before the dripping would present itself again. Usually, I noticed it when I woke up in the middle of the night. It's hard to go back to sleep when there is rhythmic dripping in the background. As it was usually in the middle of the night, I closed the bathroom door and vowed to deal with it during the day.

When I returned to investigate the toilet, the dripping would have stopped.

All right. No big deal.

Only, it was becoming a bigger deal as time wore on. Eventually, it started to drip during the day as well. While trying to locate the source of the drip, I fiddled with all the parts and flushed the toilet to see if anything helped. Nothing did.

Wifey grew more concerned with the leaking toilet. She was beginning to worry we would need to call a plumber to replace the whole toilet. This worry was compounded by the fact that every street in our area seemed to display one or two toilets at the curb for disposal.

While I was still trying to root out the cause, our temporary solution was to turn off the water to the toilet when we didn't need it and turn it back on when we did. When we went on our trip to the US, we shut the water off before hand. This solution posed a small problem. As the water in the tank still dripped into the bowl.

Finally, this past weekend, I realized I forgot to do a Google search. As a Loonie IT Guy, using Google should have been the first thing to come to mind as I usually use Google as a first stop for things IT related that I cannot fix on my own. One of the search results indicated that most leaky toilet problems are caused by a worn toilet flapper. I opened up our tank and looked at the flapper, I couldn't see anything wrong with it, but I pulled it out anyway.

Yikes! It looked warped and wrinkled.

This is the old toilet flapper.
You can't really tell from the picture, but it looks like water could have been dripping between the flapper and the opening to the toilet tank. There is also a visible groove in the flapper. That groove shouldn't be there and was likely caused by the water over time.

I did a quick search on Home Depot and Canadian Tire to see how much a replacement flapper cost. Looks like they were in the neighbourhood of $5 to $10.

I hopped onto my bike and rode to Home Depot to pick one up.

It took me a while to find the aisle with the toilet flappers and... Holy Cow! How many types of toilet flappers are there?

Fortunately, I took the old toilet flapper with me to compare. I finally found one that was was similar to the old one and cashed it out for a total of $10.15 ($8.98 + tax).

When I returned home, wifey wondered how long it would take to replace the flapper. Considering it took me 5 seconds to remove the flapper, I told her 5 minutes. It took only 3 minutes to replace the flapper and adjust the chain. We turned the water back on and listened. No dripping. We flushed the toilet and listened again. No dripping.

End result of my handiwork.
Wifey was happy to give me updates each time she used the toilet. No dripping.

We also noticed that this new flapper needs to be held down longer if we want to flush more water into the bowl. I think that's a good thing as the previous flapper emptied half the tank into the bowl every flush. Obviously for number twos, we need more water, so we'll just hold the flusher longer. No big deal there.

Glad we didn't end up calling a plumber. We probably would have been charged $40 for the visit and $15 for parts.

Net result of this project? The know how to fix the next toilet flapper malfunction and, moving forward, we'll be using less water per flush.


Popular Posts