Save money and water by fixing leaky toilets

Leaky faucets and showerheads are easy to spot when they drip, but how do you know when a toilet is leaking? Toilet leaks are silent water wasters – often going unnoticed for months or even years. October is Toilet Repair Month, which makes it a great time to check for leaky toilets and fix them.

If you’ve ever heard your toilet “running” for a long time after a flush, or heard it running in the middle of the night, or had to wiggle the handle to make it stop, then you have a leak. A running toilet is a leaky toilet.

A constantly running or leaking toilet can waste more than 200 gallons of water every day. Let’s break that down. That is:

  • 1,400 gallons a week
  • 5,500 gallons a month
  • 67,200 gallons a year

And that’s just for one toilet. What if you have three leaky toilets? You could be wasting as 201,600 gallons of treated water – enough to fill an average backyard swimming pool 10½ times per year!*

Checking our toilets for leaks each season reduces the amount of wasted water and shaves off the unused water from on your water bill. Before you call a plumber, do some investigative work of your own.

How to know if your toilet is leaking

It’s easy to check for toilet leaks. All you need is:

  • Food coloring or dye tablets
  • A clock or watch
  • A toilet


  1. Remove the lid off the toilet tank.
  2. Add a few drops of food coloring or a dye tablet into the tank. Do not flush the toilet.
  3. Wait 10 minutes. If color appears in the toilet bowl without flushing, it has a leak.
  4. Flush the toilet immediately after the experiment ends to avoid staining the inside of the toilet.

What to do if your toilet is leaking

If you look inside the tank, you will notice a ‘rubber stop’ at the bottom of the tank. This is called a flapper. The flapper creates a watertight seal, but degradation over time can cause the flapper to no longer seal properly. Replacement parts and kits are widely available at most home improvement or hardware stores and are easy to install.

While you are taking the time for repairs, check to ensure you have a water-efficient toilet that uses 1.6 gallons per flush. If you consider replacing your toilet, look for WaterSense labeled products

*Calculations based on a 16 ft. x 32 ft. pool, with the average depth of 5 feet.