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Prevent a Flood: Check Your Toilets and Sinks

It’s easy to take indoor plumbing for granted since just about every modern home today features toilets and sinks. While you may never expect these fixtures to develop leaks, flood damage from plumbing fixtures happens all the time. Follow these flood protection tips to help prevent toilets and sinks from flooding your home.

How to Check a Toilet for Leaks

The type of toilet leaks most people think of involve a leak between the tank and bowl. This wastes water, but it won’t flood your home. However, if the floor feels spongy around the toilet or the bowl rocks back and forth, your toilet could be leaking in a way that’s damaging your home.

Check the seal between the toilet horn and the drain line.

This is the place where waste exits the toilet through the floor. If there’s a leak here, every time you flush, a tiny bit of waste water seeps out. You may need to have the toilet removed from the floor and a new wax ring and toilet horn installed by a professional. The subfloor may also require repair if the leak was severe enough to damaged it.

Check the bottom of the toilet tank.

There should be a rubber gasket where the toilet tank and bowl meet. If the porcelain is cracked or the locknut isn’t tight enough, water can leak out onto the floor. Try tightening the locknut one-quarter turn and check if the leak stops. If not, tighten one-quarter turn more, but be careful not to over-tighten the locknut. If this doesn’t stop the leak, you may need help from a plumber.

How to Check a Sink for Leaks

A dripping faucet needlessly increases your water bills, but it won’t flood your home. What you need to worry about are bad plumbing connections leading to and away from the faucet that could allow water to leak into the cabinet and onto the floor beneath it.

Make sure the leak is really from the plumbing.

A tipped-over bottle or can stored in the cabinet under the sink could create the damp spot you’re mistaking for a plumbing leak. Remove everything from under the sink, dry up as much moisture as you can and check the damp spot the following morning. If it’s still there, you have a leak.

Check the hot and cold water supply lines.

The water leading to the faucet is always under pressure, so any loose connections or other problems result in leaks. Since water flows down the supply line before dripping onto the cabinet floor beneath, try this technique:

•Turn off the hot water supply.

•Completely dry off the hose and fitting.

•Wrap toilet paper around the hose and fitting, securing it in place with tape or twist ties.

•Turn on the hot water supply and watch the hose carefully to see where it becomes wet first.

•Repeat this technique with the cold water line to pinpoint exactly where the leak or leaks are.

Check the seal around the faucet fixture.

If the faucet was installed without being sealed properly, water can leak under the fixture and drip into the cabinet below. If possible, loosen the faucet so you have room to apply a fresh bead of plumber’s putty. If the nuts are rusted on, you may end up needing a new faucet.

Check the drain line.

PVC or metal drain traps may become damaged overtime and start to leak. Wrap toilet paper around the trap and turn on the faucet. If the toilet paper becomes wet, you need to replace the trap.

How to Locate the Waterline into a Toilet or Sink

If your toilet or sink is leaking severely and you need time to figure out what’s wrong, turn off the water immediately. The toilet waterline is located on the wall behind the appliance. Two sink waterlines – one for hot and one for cold – are located in the cabinet below the sink. Turn the appropriate valve clockwise as far as you can to shut off the flow of water and reduce flood damage to your home.

For more flood protection tips, or for immediate assistance in the aftermath of a flood, please contact Rainbow Restoration ®.


For Further Reading:

The 5 Leaky Time Bombs Waiting to Flood Your Home

5 Ways to Prevent a Soggy Basement Disaster

How to Spot a Water Leak 

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