The Problem with Leaking Toilets and Faucets


Are leaking toilets and/or faucets overloading your wastewater treatment system?

Most home owners with onsite wastewater treatment systems are not aware of the problems that can be caused by a leaking toilet and/or faucets. Multiple small leaks from leaking toilets and dripping faucets can add up quickly and even the smallest leak can significantly overload a system. Leaking toilets are a common, but often an overlooked problem, especially in rural homes. If the flapper valve in your toilet tank is getting old, or if your water has small bits of dirt or rust it will eventually lead to a leaking toilet.

So, how much of a problem can it really be?

Consider the problem that can be caused by a 1/2 Liter of leaking water. Although, it isn’t that much when you look at water in a jar, a ½ liter of water which is very difficult to see when it’s trickling through your toilet bowl, can really start to add up over a 24 hour period. This as the way to look at the problem that leaks can cause:

½ Liter/min = 30 Liters/hour x 24 hours = 720 liters/day which is an added increase of 50% to the load being placed on your system.

The daily design flow rate for a 3 bedroom, single family home, is typically around 1363 liters per day, based on a 24 hour day. If your toilet is leaking ½ liter per minute over that same period it is adding a significant extra and unnecessary load on you entire system.

Water from leaking toilets or even dripping faucets can decrease the efficiency of your septic tank, or treatment system. This excessive water floods and saturates your field, which hampers the biological processes required to remove dangerous pathogens and viruses from the effluent. A saturated field may cause a potential health problem for your family and your neighbours. If your system has a pump, the additional water causes the pump to activate more frequently, thus using more electricity and needless wear and tear on the pumping system. A big cost in this day of rising electrical rates!

Typically homes with wastewater treatment systems are on a well or some other private water system, therefore leaking toilets are impacting your consumption of water at times when every drop counts. During this past summer we experienced a long dry spell and we know that water reached very low levels of availability and many homes had to have water delivered. Imagine how much water was wasted by leaking toilets.

So what should a home owner do to determine if they have a leaking toilet? Here is an easy way to determine if your toilet(s) are leaking.

  1. Purchase vegetable dye from your local grocery store.
  2. Lift the lid from the toilet tank and deposit the dye.
  3. Do not flush the toilet for 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. After the allotted time, look into the toilet bowl.
  5. If there is dye in the bowl, you have a leaking toilet.

If your toilet leaks, it most likely means that the flapper valve in the tank needs to be replaced. It is inexpensive and not hard to do but it can make a real difference in ensuring you are achieving efficient use of potable water and your waste water treatment system.

If you have any concerns regarding this or any other waste water issues that you are not sure about. Contact your maintenance provider at 250-722-7117. We are here to help!