To mark World Plumbing Day 2023 on March 11, we asked Euan Hampton, Programme Manager - Cartref at Dwr Cymru Welsh Water, to tell us all about leaky loos and how much water they waste.
How do I know if I have a leaky loo?
There are a number of ways to identify if your toilet is leaking. Most modern toilets are designed so that leaking fittings result in the lost water being fed directly into the bowl itself. So, the most obvious sign would be water visibly running or dripping down the back of the pan and into the toilet bowl. Another sign may be hearing your toilet re-filling randomly when you haven’t used it for a while. If you’re not sure, allow 30 minutes after flushing and then run a piece of tissue around the back of the bowl. If it becomes wet this may indicate a leak. Other signs to look out for, particularly on older toilet systems, are dripping or flowing overflow pipes on an outside wall.
What causes a leaky loo?
There are several reasons toilets may begin to leak. They include old or damaged washers and seals, defective parts that may have deteriorated over time, and elements within the cistern becoming dislodged or lodged open by small particles in the cistern. Damage to seals can also be caused from blue blocks or cleaning fluids being added directly to the cistern itself. We also believe that the rise in leaks is partially caused by the installation of fittings which are not compliant with the water regulations. It is important to check with your approved plumber or supplier if these water fittings are compliant, not only from a longevity point of view, but also to reduce water wastage, as well as reducing the risk of contamination to your water supply.
Why do leaky loos need fixing?
On average, a leaking toilet can waste between 215 and 400 litres of clean drinking water every day. The average daily total water use for a person in England and Wales is around 150-170 litres, meaning a leak could add another couple of people’s usage onto your bill every day. We have come across leaks which have far exceeded this, where the cistern is constantly emptying and running with clean water. If you are a metered customer, this will directly impact your bill. But, regardless of the bill, the waste of water is bad for the environment. The more we use, the more is extracted from the environment around us. The costs and energy associated with water treatment are something we want to avoid where unnecessary.
Should I try and fix it, or who would I contact to fix it?
Yes, you should fix it – we all have a responsibility to avoid wasting water.
I would first direct you to your water company, who, like ourselves at Dwr Cymru Welsh Water, may offer a free toilet repair service. We will come out and fix your toilet, using one of our in-house plumbers. At the same time, water companies will often support customers with free water efficiency products they can install whilst there: www.dwrcymru.com/cartref
If your water company doesn’t offer a repair service, I’d advise getting a WaterSafe-approved plumber to help you. They are qualified in the water regulations, insured and will issue a certificate after the work is completed.
Did you know that most water companies offer their customers water efficiency products free of charge? Welsh Water, like many others, use the Get Water Fit platform or you can search your provider’s website for more information on how to access the service for your area.