Dye Test for Toilets

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If your water bill has been unexpectedly high, consider checking your plumbing fixtures for leaks. Dripping faucets are obvious and easy to spot, but a leaky toilet isn't always readily apparent. You'll need to perform a simple dye test to see if yours is leaking and running up your water bill.

Water Wasted

  • If your toilet leaks, it may waste as much as 200 gallons of water per day, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports. Across the United States, leaky toilets and other plumbing fixtures amount to one trillion gallons of water wasted each week.

The Dye Test

  • You can determine whether your toilet leaks with a simple test that requires nothing more than food coloring. To check your toilet, remove the cover from the toilet tank and place a few drops of food coloring in the water. Check the toilet bowl a half-hour later. If the water in the bowl contains food coloring, the toilet is leaking and needs to be repaired to prevent wasting water. Be sure to flush after checking so the bowl doesn't stain.

Troubleshooting a Leaky Toilet

  • The first thing to check on a leaky toilet is the float arm in the tank. Lift it up to see if it stops running. If it does, you've found the leak and you need to tighten and adjust the float valve to stop it. If this isn't the problem, then you'll have to turn off the water supply to the tank and flush it to remove the water. Check all the connections and washers in the toilet and replace any that are corroded, cracked, broken or in disrepair. One common cause of toilet leaks is the flapper, or valve seal, the EPA reports. If yours shows mineral buildup or looks decayed, it may need replacing.

Toilet Life Span

  • Toilets can last 15 to 20 years. If your home has older toilets, you may want to check for leaks that develop as they age. You should also check for leaks if you notice an increase in your water bill that doesn't correlate with increased water usage. Even if your toilets remain in good working order, new, high-efficiency toilets can cut down on your water consumption. Water-efficient toilets labels with the WaterSense seal use about 60 percent less water than less-efficient models. The water savings can lower water bills by up to $90 per year, the EPA reports.

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