Ask the Experts

Help! I’ve got water on my bathroom floor! Where did it come from?
If you’ve got water on your bathroom floor near your toilet, there are a number of reasons this could be happening, and the most probable cause is an inexpensive fix.
If your aim is true, consider the following:

Is condensation to blame?
One of the most common reasons for excess water on the floor is due to water condensing on the outside of the tank and dripping. What causes this? There is difference in temperature between the water inside the tank (think fresh out of the ground cold) and the air temperature in the bathroom (think warm and humid). Condensation on the tank is most prevalent during the summer months, but if the conditions are right, it can happen any time of the year. If this problem is one that dogs you, consider a toilet tank liner, which insulates the cooler water of the tank from the warmer, more humid outside air. To see if this is your problem, wipe the outside of the tank thoroughly with a towel and wait and see if water is visible on the outside of your tank again.

Condensation isn’t the problem. What do I do now?
If you’ve knocked tank condensation off the list of possible suspects for your wet bathroom floor, you may have water leaking from the inside of the tank. To see if this is the problem, remove the tank lid and add a few drops of food coloring or a dye tablet to the water. Wait while the color settles (about a ½ hour), and if you find water on the floor the same color as that in the tank, you’ll have solved the mystery.

Okay, I’ve found out that my tank is leaking. Now what?
To find out where the water is coming from, check the tank carefully. A porcelain tank may be cracked. If this is not the case, the tinted water will help any leaks around the rubber seals and bolts between your toilet tank and bowl or at the foam gasket where the flush valve allows water to enter the bowl.

I’ve found a leak between the tank and the bowl. How do I fix it?
If the leak is in the center of the tank, you might need to replace the tank-to-bowl sponge gasket or the washers on the tank-to-bowl bolts. If it’s the sponge gasket that needs to be replaced, you will notice it leaking more when the toilet is flushed. If the bolts and/or washers are the culprit, the leak might appear closer to the side of the tank/bowl joint.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to find the leak in the area where the tank sits on the bowl. Discrepancies arise due to the porcelain manufacturing process in where the “low point” of the bowl is, and water will flow to the lowest point.
You’ll have to take the tank off of the bowl and replace the worn rubber parts. How this is done depends on your model toilet.

My toilet flushes fine, but the water keeps running. What can I do?
First, take a look inside the tank. Toilet mechanisms might be different, but the principle is the same.

When the handle is pushed, a chain lifts the flapper, which allows the tank water to go through the opening in the bottom, filling the bowl. The flapper drops and closes the opening as the water level drops.
As the water drains, a plastic float drops. The float is connected to the fill valve (ballcock) that lets water into the tank when the float is down. It stops when the float is up.
In the middle of the tank is an overflow tube. This will drain water into the bowl if it gets too high.
Flush the toilet and watch what happens.
Does the flapper close? If the tank is not full and it doesn’t fill, your flapper may be stuck open. Try to close it with your hand. If it keeps sticking, investigate. Does the chain catch on something? Is the flapper catching on the chain? Is the flapper wedged open on its hinge? Is the flapper aligned with the opening? Is the flapper worn and need to be replaced?
If you have a ball seal instead of a flapper, check to be sure that the wire is straight and the ball moves freely.

I’ve checked the flapper and it’s adjusted properly and doesn’t need to be replaced, but my toilet is still leaking. Where do I go from here?
If the flapper is adjusted or replaced and the toilet continues to run, check the fill valve and float and adjust if necessary.
If the tank is full and the flapper is closed, and water is still running over the top of the overflow tube, pull up the float with your hand. If the water stops running, adjust the level of the float so the tank stops filling when the water is about in inch below the top of the overflow tube. (The flapper can leak due to excess pressure if the tank level is too high, even if you put in a new one.)
If the float is around the valve post, pinch the metal clip and slide the float down on the wire.
If the float is a ball on an arm, turn the small screws on the top of the valve. You can also bend the arm further down.
The float shouldn’t be touch anything else; it shouldn’t drag against the side of the tank, the overflow tube or anything else.
Be sure that there isn’t a leak in the float ball – it shouldn’t fill with water. If you unscrew the float ball and hear water inside when you shake it, it needs to be replaced.

I do need to replace my flapper. How do I do this?
If you find you’ve got a slow leak – evidence of this is the toilet stops filling and then on and off starts again. To get confirmation of this, a dye tablet or food coloring will once again prove useful. Put the dye tablet or food coloring into the toilet tank and wait and hour or two. If you see color in the bowl you’ve got a slow leak, which, most likely points to a leaky flapper. You may have mineral buildup and cleaning may work, but it’s best to replace it. Click here to see wide selection!
To replace the flapper:
1.    Turn off the water to the toilet (the valve sticks out of the wall. Turn the silver handle (stop) to the right)
2.    Once you’ve got the water turned off, flush the toilet. (If you have it sufficiently turned off, the tank will not refill and you won’t hear the water running.)
3.    Take the flapper off its hinges, disconnect it from the chain, and put in the new one.
4.    Check around the rim of the opening for mineral buildup and remove.
5.    Turn on the water by turning the stop to the left.
6.    Flush the toilet a few times and make sure the chain is the proper length. It should pull up to release the water and then drop closed all the way when the tank is empty. You might have to adjust the chain’s length. Also make sure that the flapper is properly aligned.

There seems to be another reason for the leak… is there anything else I can do?
Sometimes there are other reasons for a leaking toilet.
The rubber fill tube that leads to the overflow tube can sometimes act as a siphon. If this is happening, adjust the ballcock or tube height up, or the water level down.
The fill valve, in some cases, can be opened and the rubbers seals can be replaced. Otherwise, you’ll need to replace the whole valve. Click here to see the ballcock/fill valves at
Sometimes a non-rubber part of the fill valve can break. If this happens, you’ll need to get a replacement.

My toilet takes a long time to fill after flushing. What can it be?
If the water level in your toilet is taking a long time to reach its normal height, mineral deposits could be to blame. Use a toilet brush and a pumice stone (get one at!) to clean under the rim, paying particular attention to the small holes that dispense water into the bowl. Use a pick such as a bent wire coat hanger (be careful not to scratch the porcelain because this will cause the deposits to form even more quickly) and clear the holes. Use a small mirror to help you see under the rim.

My toilet is clogged…
There are a few different ways to unclog a toilet, but before beginning you should do the following:
1.    Flush the toilet only once.
2.    Put on a pair of rubber gloves. (We all know how unsanitary toilets are…)
3.    Protect your floor by putting down some newspapers.

Using a Plunger (see our selection at
If there’s an object caught in the toilet (like your child’s rubber duck, for example), use a different method.
Be sure to use a large, heavy-duty rubber plunger, either a ball shape type or one with a rubber flange on the bottom that can form a seal. Don’t use one that’s too small, or a suction type plunger – often they won’t work, and may end up shooting water back up into the bowl. The larger the plunger that you use, the more force you can apply onto the clogged drain.
Put the plunger into the bowl and press down firmly but slowly, while making sure that you’ve effectively covered the hole, and that the plunger is submerged in the water. (If not, add water to the bowl.) Pull up on the plunger to create suction in the drain, and then push down. Repeat, as the constant back and forth motion will loosen the clog until the bowl and drain are clear.

Using a Wire Coat Hanger
If plunging doesn’t do the trick, you can also use a wire coat hanger.
Untwist the top and then straighten out the coat hanger. Stick one end of the wire into the drain then twist, push and move it in a circular motion to clear the drain. This is a good method to use if the obstruction is within the first few inches of the drain.

Using an Auger (Plumbing Snake)
For tough clogs, you might need to pull out the “heavy artillery”. An auger is a flexible coil of wire that moves through the curves of a drain, and can get much deeper than a wire coat hanger. A closet auger is specially designed not to damage the bowl while getting the clog out.
Place one end of the snake into the drain and push down, feeding the snake further into the drain until you feel an obstruction.

Using Chemicals
As a last resort, there are chemicals that will work for clogs that are not caused by a hard obstruction. Many of these chemicals are harsh on the environment so try to avoid using them if at all possible. (See our toilet-safe chemicals at

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