Testing a Toilet for Leaks
a Sprinkler System
TESTING A TOILET FOR LEAKS:
There are a number of
signs that a toilet needs some repairs, but many toilets leak without
conspicuous indications of trouble. Here are some of the obvious signs
of a leaking toilet:
If you have to jiggle the
handle to make a toilet stop running.
Any sounds coming from a
toilet that is not being used are sure signs of
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
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 (otherwise known as the phantom flusher).
However, even if your toilet doesn't have any of these 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.
And 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
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. Hardware stores often sell dye capsules or
tablets, but food coloring or instant coffee works fine. Another
suggestion 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
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. And 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.
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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 one
more test to further try and pinpoint the problem. This time 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 tank and the
water level is even with the edges of the seat, 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 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
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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TESTING YOUR SPRINKLER SYSTEM:
Before you can conserve water, you need to know how much water your
sprinkler system delivers to your lawn areas. You will need to perform a
simple catch can test. This can be done in 5 easy steps.
First – Set three identical cans at various distances from the
sprinklers within its spray pattern. Turn on the sprinkler zone for 15
Second – Turn off the zone and measure each can with a ruler, and look
differences in the amount of water collected. Note the location of each
can on sheet of paper and the amount of water collected. This will tell
you how evenly the water is being applied, or how efficient. Sprinkler
heads can be moved or renozzled to improve the efficiency of the zone.
Third – Pour the water collected from the three cans into just one can.
Forth – With a ruler measure the depth of water in the can. Divide the
number by three, and now you know how much water your sprinkler zone
delivers in 15 minutes.
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