I have a toilet that seems to keep loosing water from the tank - fairly slowly. It looses close to 1/3 of the volume then fill back up on its own or if the pressure in the house changes. I have changed the rubber flapper several times but the problem persists. I can't afford to call a plumber, what do you think could be the cause, and how do I correct it?
Locksley ~ Valhall, New York
Hi Locksley, I had the same problem with one of my own toilets a number of years ago, and was just as mystified as you are. It turned out my toilet tank had a very small crack that was allowing water to gradually leak out, and eventually the fill valve would allow water to come back in. Installing a new tank took care of the problem. So that is one area you might want to check. Another area is the gasket where the tank sits down onto the bowl, and the rubber washers under the bolts holding the tank to the bowl.
Plumbing gaskets and washers can eventually wear out, and water can slowly leak out of the tank. When enough leaks out, the fill valve should kick in and fill the tank back up. In each of these cases, and the cracked tank, you should be able to run your hand around the exterior of the tank and rear of the bowl, and feel some moisture. There may even be a small puddle of water on the floor behind the toilet.
The rubber flapper you replaced is at the flush valve, which allows water into the bowl. Replacing the flapper does not always correct the problem, if that is where water is leaking out of the tank. There may be some sort of debris or buildup under that flapper which is preventing it from sealing properly. Turn off the supply line to the toilet, and flush it, and then take a tool with a flat edge and run it around the ledge the flapper sits on when it is down.
You should be able to purchase a kit with replacement rubber washers and a gasket at a plumbing outlet or home improvement store in Valhall, and there should also be a facility there in New York where you can purchase a tank if that is the issue. If none of these areas appear to be the problem, you may end up having to call a plumber when you can afford to. I wouldn't think an repair like this should be too expensive, if they can fix it in one trip.