Spotting Hidden Water Damage, Part 3: Leaking Toilets

In the last couple of posts, I’ve written about hidden water damage from faucets and drains. There are other sources of water damage from leaks. Today’s post will look at leaking toilets

Spotting hidden water damage from a leaking toilet can be a bit more difficult, depending upon what’s leaking and where the water’s going. When you’re lucky, the toilet tank may be overfilling, In this case, the excess water is shunted down an overflow tube and into the soil pipe. No water damage, but you’ll want to adjust the float in the toilet tank to shut off the refill flow sooner, mainly to avoid wasting water. If the flush mechanism isn’t sealing the bottom of the tank properly, you may need to replace a valve, the flush chain, or make a few adjustments inside the tank.

Water can also condense on the outside of the toilet tank causing water to drip on the floor. The condensation is a product of a large difference in temperature between the water in the tank and the air temperature in the bathroom. The condensation can add to an already-damp atmosphere. It can also soak carpets and cause water damage to floor tiles and other flooring surfaces.

There’s not much you can do about the temperature of the water filling the tank, but you can insulate the tank itself with a tank cover to inhibit condensation. Be sure to use a cover that’s designed to fit your toilet and make sure the tank is covered all the way to the water line. Use an exhaust fan to circulate the air in the bathroom. This may help reduce the difference between the outside air temperature and the inside water temperature. Finally, consider using a small dehumidifier to draw moisture out of the air.
In my next post, I’ll tackle the messy leaks – those that involve removing or replacing the wax ring or repositioning the toilet on the soil pipe.