Your Licensed Neighborhood Plumber
Man in a flooded room with a toilet in the background

How Your Faulty Running Toilet May Be Costing You a Small Fortune

Water bills ain’t cheap, and they aren’t getting any cheaper. Naturally, to save some of their hard-earned cash, your average consumer would want to reduce their water usage any way they can.
In some areas, this could be an easy task. Not running the sink constantly and buying appliances that use less water could always be advisable, however, these may not even be close to being the source of your financial woes. A basic bathroom fixture, a run-of-the-mill toilet today will typically use between 1.28 to 2 gallons of water per flush. While this adds up over time, this is still far less than the amount of water a faulty toilet can use. Perpetually cycling water through its tank, a constantly running toilet’s water usage can stack up in a big way, using up to a gallon of water every minute. In Washington D.C. recently, officials said homes with dysfunctional toilets could waste more than 1,400 gallons per day.
Any plumber in Rochester NY can tell you that, though the typical charge for water in the city is around 3/10 of a cent per gallon ($3.38 for every 1,000 gallons from the municipal water supply), a running toilet can really rack up your water costs. At a rate of 1,400 gallons daily, that’s around $4.73 per day out of your pocket. If left unchecked for a month, you can say goodbye to around $142.00 of hard-earned pay.
Over a year? Just over $1,700, money that could have gone to something much more useful than unused toilet water.

So What Do I Do About It?

Luckily, it’s actually super easy to solve this problem all by yourself. To diagnose the issue, watch the action of the mechanism inside the tank and observe the process as you flush. A flapper, a cover to a hole in the base of the tank controlled by a chain, lifts, letting water flow out. A common cause of constantly running water is the flapper being stuck open, allowing water to continue to flow.
When checking to see if the seal is open, be sure to see the chain isn’t jammed on a part of the mechanism, as this could prevent failure to close. The flapper could also be misaligned with its hinges, which can interfere with its ability to seal water out.
If the refill valve (what fills the tank) keeps running, it may mean your water level is low. Reduced water in the tank usually means the valve was not adjusted correctly, turning it on to see if it’s not set at full.
The float, or what keeps everything in position, could also be at fault. If misaligned with the rest of the system, water could leak out of the tank, even with a brand new flapper installed.
If the ball valve and assembly have accumulated limescale (or any other substance, for some reason), cleaning the parts could be a logical next step to keep everything in working order. After that, check the plastic fill valve, as a pinched one can really mess with the entire process. Though the valve itself isn’t supposed to stop water completely, if it’s inundated the valve may have to be replaced completely.
If all else fails, replacement of some components may be necessary. A flapper is typically the reason behind most constantly running toilets, and is usually the main reason the water keeps flowing, however, as with most cohesive units, if one part fails, the whole system fails.

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