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A Toilet Bolt Leak Could Have Been a Disaster

July 11, 2023


Do you think it can't happen to you? It can. Here's a story about a toilet bolt leak that could have led to a homeowner's disaster.

One of our friends narrowly avoided a flooding disaster in their home. For a few weeks, they noticed that their toilet in the primary bathroom was flushing incorrectly, but it was happening so infrequently that they thought they could put off a repair. Then one day they noticed a small puddle at the base of the toilet. It only happened once, so they thought it might be a fluke, and did nothing but wipe up the water.

Then one day, the woman happened to be in the bathroom putting on her makeup and thought she heard water dripping. She checked the faucets, shower and tub, and didn’t see any water, so she went back to her makeup routine. The water dripping got louder.

When she turned around again, she saw water pouring from the bottom of the toilet onto the floor. The tank was emptying. Luckily, she was there to catch the problem early and knew what to do. She immediately turned off the water supply to the toilet so it could not automatically refill. She then ran to get a bucket and scoop and bailed the rest of the water out of the toilet tank before it could hit the floor. A call to the plumber was next.

What happened here? The intermittent flushing was not the problem, although the flushing mechanism needed to be replaced. What happened was that the bolts at the bottom of the toilet tank had come loose. If the woman had not been there to catch the leak, the entire tank would have emptied onto the bathroom floor, and would have refilled automatically to keep leaking until someone caught the problem—it could have been a very expensive and extensive disaster.

What Causes a Toilet Bolt Leak?

If a toilet starts leaking from one or more of the bolts at the bottom of the tank, it usually indicates a problem with the tank-to-bowl connection in one of two ways:

  1. The bolt(s) connecting the tank to the bowl became loose or damage. Over time, the constant use and movement of the toilet can cause the bolts to loosen.
  2. The gasket providing a watertight seal between the tank and bowl deteriorated or was improperly installed.

What to Do if the Toilet Tank Bolts Fail

To address the issue of a toilet bolt leak:

  1. First, shut off the water supply by closing the water valve located behind or beside the toilet.
  2. Flush the toilet and hold down the handle to drain as much water as possible from the tank. Use a sponge or towel to soak up any remaining water.
  3. Inspect the bolt(s) and gasket(s) for damage. If a bolt is loose, use a wrench to tighten it gently. Do not overtighten—it may crack the tank. If a bolt or gasket is damaged, replace it.
  4. Remove and reinstall the tank by carefully aligning the tank with the bowl and ensuring the gasket is properly positioned. Gradually tighten the bolts on both sides, alternating between each side to ensure even pressure. Do not overtighten.
  5. Test for leaks by turning on the water supply and allowing the tank to fill. Observe the area around the bolts for signs of leakage.

How to Turn off the Water Valve at a Toilet

The specific type of valve may vary, but generally, to turn off the water to your toilet, follow these steps:

  • Locate the water valve beside or behind the toilet. It may be a round or oval-shaped valve with a handle or lever.
  • Turn the valve clockwise. It works like a faucet, so turn the lever or handle until it stops. This action will close the valve and stop the water flow.
  • Check for leaks. After turning off the valve, check for water leakage from the valve or toilet.

Related: Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Water Damage?

A Home Watch Company Can Help Prevent a Home Flooding Disaster When You’re Away

Your Home Watch professional knows that things like a water leak can—and does—happen. That’s why they are adamant about checking areas where water could leak during each home inspection. A leak can happen suddenly, and unless it is caught early, can create extensive damage and expensive repairs. By checking for small leaks or any anomaly, bigger disasters like this toilet bolt failure could have caused may be averted.

Did the homeowner in this example know that the small puddle first discovered could become a big problem? No. She was not a home professional. Without training and experience, not everyone knows what could be an indication of a potential issue. Who knew the toilet bolts could leak??

A Home Watch professional is trained in the care and operation of a home’s systems, like water, electrical and HVAC, and knows what to look for. That’s why you can rest easy when you’re away from home and trusting your Home Watch team.

Trust Golden Rule Home Watch with Your Northern Virginia Home

If you live in Northern Virginia and need to leave home for an extended vacation or work assignment, don’t leave your home unattended. Anything could happen. Trust Golden Rule Home Watch & Concierge to care for your home while you’re away.

We offer a range of services, from Home Watch and Car Watch, to regular maintenance tasks, to personalized concierge services. Just let us know what you need and we’re glad to accommodate your needs and preferences.

Contact Golden Rule Home Watch today at 855-928-2424 for your free initial consultation.