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How Much Can A Running Toilet Cost You?

A running toilet, when water continuously flows into the bowl even when not being flushed, can be an expensive problem for property owners. Understanding the financial and environmental impact of a running toilet is important not only to save money but also for our surroundings.


In this article, we’ll talk about how to diagnose and fix a running toilet, and what solution you can implement to reduce or avoid this type of problem.


Understanding a Running Toilet


A running toilet is a plumbing issue where water continuously or intermittently flows from the tank into the toilet bowl, even when the toilet is not being flushed. This type of toilet leak is typically caused by a worn or malfunctioning toilet flapper valve, which controls water flow from the tank to the bowl.


Recognizing the signs of a running toilet, such as the constant sound of running water or an unusually high water bill, can help identify the problem early and avoid long-term problems like property damage and high water bills.


Diagnosing a Running Toilet


Listen for Sounds


Identify if there's a continuous sound of water running and check if the toilet makes noises when not in use. Water sounds while the toilet is not in use are one of the common signs that you have a constantly or intermittently running toilet.


Check the Water Level


Look inside the tank to see whether water is reaching or spilling into the overflow tube. The ideal water level in a toilet tank is about an inch below the top of the overflow tube. Water overflow can waste gallons of water in a very short period of time, so always check your overflow tube. 


If water is reaching the overflow tube, sometimes a simple adjustment of the float arm will correct the problem.


Conduct a Dye Test


Drop food coloring or a dye tablet into the toilet tank and wait for 15-30 minutes without using the flush valve or flushing mechanism of your toilet. If colored water appears in the bowl, there’s a leak from the tank to the bowl.


Inspect the Flapper


Check the rubber flapper at the bottom of the tank and then clean any mineral build-up around the flapper and the seat. Try pressing down on the flapper to see if the running stops, indicating a flapper issue.


Examine the Fill Valve


Make sure that the fill valve stops filling the tank at the correct water level. Listen for hissing sounds, which may indicate a malfunctioning fill valve, and then adjust the float arm or float cup if the water level is too high or too low.


Consider the Water Pressure


High water pressure can sometimes cause running toilet issues so make sure to use a pressure gauge to check your home's water pressure. This is uncommon, and you’ll probably need a plumber to fix this for you.



Running Toilet Cost Calculation


  1. Estimate Water Loss Rate: First, you need to establish how much water a running toilet can waste. A moderate continuous leak might waste about 2 gallons of water per minute, whereas a large continuous leak can be 3 or 4 gallons per minute.

  2. Calculate Daily Water Waste: If a toilet runs continuously, it could waste 2 gallons per minute. That's equivalent to 2,880 gallons per day. A leak of 4 gallons per minute adds up to 5,760 gallons per day.

  3. Monthly Water Waste: To find the monthly water waste, just multiply the daily waste by the number of days in a month (assuming 30 days for this calculation):


Moderate Leak – 2,880 gallons per day x 30 days = 86,400 gallons per month.

Large Leak – 5,760 gallons per day x 30 days = 172,800 gallons per month.


  1. Determine Cost Per Gallon: Water costs can vary depending on your location, type of structure (single family home, apartment, office building, etc.), and other factors. Also, many regions bill for both water and sewer. For example, in Los Angeles, residential customers typically pay about $0.018 per gallon for water and sewer.

  2. Calculate Total Monthly Cost: Multiply the monthly water waste by the cost per gallon.


Moderate Leak – 86,400 gallons per month x $0.018 per gallon = $1,555 per month.

Large Leak – 172,800 gallons per month x $0.018 per gallon = $3,110 per month.


Thus, a running toilet with a moderate continuous leak could land you with a monthly water bill that is $1,555 more than you expected. A large continuous leak could set you back about $3,110 in a month.


As you can see, a simple toilet problem can cost big money if it’s not addressed right away. 

In a single-family home, the resident typically notices a toilet problem like this and fixes it quickly. In an apartment building, however, tenants often don’t notice or report these kinds of problems for a couple of reasons. 


One is that tenants often are not the ones paying the water bill, so they have no incentive to notice or report leaks. Another reason is that such repairs are usually not the tenant’s responsibility, so they leave it up to the building maintenance staff to fix. 


However, maintenance staff aren’t in the apartments, so they have no way of noticing such leaks in the first place. This can lead to a toilet running for months, which can cost the building owner literally thousands of dollars.


This example simplifies the calculation by assuming continuous running and a constant rate of leakage, which may not always be the case.

Actual costs could be lower or higher based on the severity of the leak, local water rates, and how frequently the toilet is running.


Save Money With Submetering


Submetering apartment buildings can measure water usage at the individual apartment unit and fixture level and can help detect running toilets early. By closely monitoring water consumption, submeters can identify sudden spikes or consistent overuse that may indicate a running or leaking toilet.


With the help of submetering, homeowners or multifamily property owners can address running toilets quickly and avoid costly water bills.


Here's a sample case study from DrizzleX when they implemented a submetering solution for toilets in a property.


DrizzleX case study


  1. Dramatic Reductions: Achieved a 68% decrease in water usage and saved a total of 753,153 gallons of water per year.

  2. Cost Efficiency: Demonstrated financial savings of $13,794, underscoring the economic benefits of addressing running toilets.

  3. Before and After Installation: Pre-installation daily average ranged from 2,703 to 3,449 gallons while the post-installation daily average significantly reduced to between 913 and 1,627 gallons.

  4. Per Unit Efficiency: In 2022, each unit averaged 255 gallons per day. But when they joined DrizzleX (2023), it dramatically dropped to 83 gallons per unit per day.


How DrizzleX Can Help You


DrizzleX allows you to detect hidden leaks, such as running toilets and leaky faucets, to stop millions of gallons of waste each year. It also alerts you to excessive water overuse by tenants. Typically, buildings that use DrizzleX reduce their water bills by 25-45% or more.


And you can expect a pretty quick return on investment (ROI). Buildings with DrizzleX save enough water to cover the entire cost of DrizzleX within about 9 months on average.



DrizzleX leak alert


Usage Reports


One of DrizzleX's solutions is the “Tenant’s Overuse” report. Since many people aren't really aware of their excessive water usage, an accurate report can be very helpful in preventing unnecessary expenses. Using the reports, you can communicate with your tenants about their water consumption habits and back them up with precise data.


Leak Detection


Leaks can be sneaky because they aren't always visible. With property inspection, you can see the obvious ones. But, silent leaks will only show up on your utility bills. DrizzleX gives you water control because you can monitor the water flow in your building.


The system will notify you about where and how much water is being lost.


E-mail Notifications


Once DrizzleX spots the leak, it will notify you via email. The message you receive will include all the details about the exact apartment and fixture that is the culprit, how many gallons were used, how much it will cost you if the problem isn’t fixed, and even possible causes for the water waste and how to fix it.


Billing


DrizzleX also allows you to bill your tenants. Tenants conserve water when they are the ones paying for it. You can easily create water bills based on accurate water consumption and bill them fairly.


FAQs About How Much Can A Running Toilet Cost


How does a leaky faucet compare to an extreme toilet leak in terms of water waste and cost?

While both contribute to wasting water, an extreme toilet leak can generally waste more water than a leaky faucet and can lead to higher costs due to the larger volume of water loss.


What are the financial implications of not fixing a running toilet?

Ignoring a running toilet can lead to wasting thousands of gallons of water each month and can lead to increased water bills and unnecessary financial strain.


How much can a running toilet cost?

A running toilet can cost approximately $432 monthly due to the extensive amount of water it wastes.



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