FIX THOSE LEAKS/Does your toilet have a leak?


Household leaks can waste more than 1 TRILLION gallons of water each year.

Yes, 1 TRILLION—That's a one with 12 zeros behind it (1,000,000,000,000). Those drippy faucets and leaking toilets are more than an annoyance; they cost you lots of money, and they waste LOTS of water. To check for leaks in your home, you first need to determine whether you're wasting water and then identify the source of the leak.

Here are some tips for finding leaks:

  1. Take a look at your water usage during a colder month, such as January or February. If a family of four exceeds 12,000 gallons per month, there are serious leaks.
  2. Check your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter changes at all, you probably have a leak.
  3. Identify toilet leaks by placing a drop of food coloring in the toilet tank. If any color shows up in the bowl after 10 minutes, you have a leak. (Be sure to flush immediately after the experiment to avoid staining the tank.)
  4. Examine faucet gaskets and pipe fittings for any water on the outside of the pipe to check for surface leaks. EPA

Take the 10-Minute WaterSense Challenge!

Print and Complete this Helpful Checklist


Do you know if your toilet is leaking?
  1. First, just place a drop or two of food dye into your toilet tank.  Wait 20 - 30 minutes.
  2. Next, check the water bowl.  If the color changes, you have a leak.
  3. Finally, evaluate your options.  Most likely it is a simple and inexpensive fix.  It can be as effortless as fixing the flapper or adjusting the floater; however, any licensed plumber can easily help you if you feel more comfortable with this option. 

If you decide to evaluate the leak on your own, here are a few simple things to check first.


Check your tank's water level
  • The water level might be too high, running into the overflow pipe.  If so, adjust the float rod.  Turn the screw clockwise to lower the water level 1/4" below the overflow tube.
  • If your tank's water level is more than 1/4 inch below the overflow tube, then turn off your water valve & flush your toilet to drain the water from the tank.
Check your flapper valve
  • Is the rubber peeling? If so, make sure to take your flapper with you to the store to match it to the replacement.  [Remember to turn off the water at the shut-off valve (turn right to close) before removing the flapper.]
  • Is the chain kinked?  If so, you may need to straighten it or replace it.
  • Is there calcium build-up on your flapper?  If so, clean it.