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How To: Fix A Leaking Toilet

A dripping or leaking toilet is something that most of us will need to deal with at some point. The bad news is that leaking loos are one of the main contributors to water waste, and fixing them isn't as straightforward as adjusting the toilet seat or tightening the bolts on the toilet base. The good news, however, is that the problem is usually fairly easy to rectify. So, if your toilet cistern is leaking, here's how you can fix it.

Most of the time, fixing a leaking toilet is as simple as replacing a washer that has deteriorated. The toilet arm is the arm that holds the float; when the float drops because the cistern is empty or low after flushing the toilet, it opens the toilet inlet valve. As the floating arm rises with the water level, the fill valve is shut again. If the washer in the valve is damaged, the cistern inlet valve won’t be completely resealed. This will cause water to leak into the cistern even when the cistern is full; this, in turn, will cause water to flow out through the overflow pipe, resulting in a constant drip or trickling in your toilet.

how to fix a leaking toilet infographic

You will need:

  • Replacement washers
  • A screwdriver

Step 1: Turn off the water

Before you start, you need to turn off your water supply. Turn it off at the stopcock (usually located under the kitchen sink).

Step 2: Drain the tank

Flush the loo to empty the cistern.

Step 3: Access the washer

Remove the split pin that holds the float arm in place. Unscrew the valve cap to reveal the piston that controls the arm. Cistern designs vary, but your damaged washer will be behind the cistern; locate the washer and remove it.

Step 4: Replace and reassemble

Replace the broken washer with a new one, then reassemble the float arm.

Step 5: Test it out

Switch the water supply back on and wait for the cistern to fill up. If the drip has gone – problem solved! If not, you may need to adjust the water level on your cistern; this is fairly easy to do but varies depending on the type of cistern that you have. In other words, you want to raise the floating arm so that it shuts the water off sooner. This can usually be done with a screwdriver by adjusting the screw and nut next to the inlet valve on the floating arm.

Still stuck? If you have tried the basics but you still can’t stop your toilet leaking, it could be that your toilet waste pipe is leaking. Don’t panic! Call one of our trusted local plumbers who will be able to advise you on what is needed to fix your leaking toilet pipe, whether it's a new flush valve or toilet waste pipe.

Remember, water waste isn’t just bad for the environment; if you are on a meter, it is bad for your bank balance, too, so it is worth fixing the problem as soon as you can.

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