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A Cracked Toilet

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A cracked toilet tank
Aaron Stickley
A cracked toilet is often a confusing plumbing problem because the cracks are not always easy to spot. In some cases the toilet crack can be present since the toilet was first manufactured, but for some reasons may not surface for years and years. Other times a toilet without any cracks can suddenly develop one and start leaking.

Leaks from a cracked toilet can come in many shapes and sizes. When a toilet crack is caused by extreme temperature changes that cause the toilet to crack all the way through and cause flooding the cause is obvious. But mostly a leak from a cracked toilet occurs slowly so the source can be relatively difficult to identify.

Here is some examples of how a cracked toilet might leak and how to spot a toilet crack.

Cracked Toilet Tank - A toilet tank can have cracks above or below the water level and on the inside or outside. Where the crack is located will determine what action is needed.

  • A toilet tank crack above the water level is usually not a problem unless the crack slowly grows. If you spot a toilet crack in the tank mark it and keep an eye on it to make sure it does not get any worse. It can be useful to take a picture of the crack to refer back to in the future.

  • A crack in the tank that is below the water level will have to be fixed. Unfortunately a toilet tank crack can be hard to spot. If you suspect a leak from the toilet tank start by checking the seals between the tank and the bowl. Next check the tank carefully for a crack in the porcelain. You may have to look on both the outside and the insides of the tank to see it.

Repair Options: If you have a crack in the tank you may be able to find a porcelain sealer to repair the crack. To use a sealant you will have to thoroughly drain and dry out the toilet tank before repairing it. This means you could be down a toilet for a day or two while the repair sets up.

The best option may be to replace the toilet.

Cracked Toilet Bowl - A cracked toilet bowl is more difficult to narrow down. It is a good idea to check for cracks in the bowl on a regular basis as well. Keep in mind that the leak may only occur when you flush the toilet, so flush while you check around the bowl for leaks. If you find water on the floor near the toilet a leak in the bowl is a possibility.

  • A toilet bowl crack above the water level will just need to be monitored. If you find a crack in the bowl that does not leak at all because is near and area that does not get water going through it you might be ok to leave it but mark both sides of it to make sure it is not growing. Once again a picture can be very useful for future reference.

  • A crack in the toilet bowl below the water level is much more complicated. The source may be almost impossible to track down because of the shape of the toilet bowl. When the toilet crack is visible in the part of the bowl that retains water it is clear that you will need to replace the toilet to stop the leak.

    An invisible crack is also a possibility that can present in two ways: standing water outside of the toilet and missing water. A small invisible leak can cause water to settle on the floor at the base of the toilet. In a more uncommon scenario the water from the toilet bowl will slowly leak out into the drain instead of onto the floor. If the toilet bowl doesn’t seem to be able to hold water you could have a cracked toilet that leaks into the drain.

Repair Options: Unfortunately a cracked toilet bowl cannot really be repaired. If the crack is below the water level the only option is to replace it with a new toilet. If you don’t see any visible signs of a toilet crack and the leak is at the base of the toilet you can try to reset the toilet with a new wax ring to see if that solves the problem.

Note: Toilet cracks can be the result of over tightening the bolts during the toilet installation. A toilet can even crack when tightening the handle so be careful not to over tighten when dealing with porcelain.

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