Uh oh, you noticed a leak in your toilet cistern. Even a small drip can quickly turn into a gusher if you don’t take action. But should you break out the tools and try fixing it yourself or call in a professional plumber right away?
Figuring out the best move when discovering a cistern leak can be confusing. In this article, we’ll walk you through how to assess the severity of cistern leaks and decide whether it’s a problem you can probably tackle yourself or if it’s safest to partner up with a licensed pro to get it fully fixed.
We will also discuss the benefits of hiring a plumber so you can make an informed decision on tackling that cistern leak. Let’s take it step-by-step together!
Getting to Know Your Toilet Cistern’s Inner Workings
The toilet cistern, or the toilet tank, is the water reservoir mounted above and behind the toilet bowl. When you flush the toilet, the cistern releases water into the bowl through various valves and mechanisms inside the tank.
Understanding how these internal toilet cistern parts function will provide insight into where potential leaks can occur:
The fill valve is connected to the water supply line and refills the cistern tank after flushing. It consists of a float arm and seal that shuts off when the tank reaches its preset fill level. A worn or defective fill valve seal is a common source of dripping and leaking from the top of the cistern.
The flush valve seal at the base of the cistern tank releases the water into the toilet bowl when the toilet is flushed. Typically, a rubber flapper or tank ball style seal. If the flush valve seal is damaged, it can cause water to leak down into the bowl continuously.
If the fill valve fails to shut off properly, the overflow tube acts as an emergency drain to prevent the cistern from overfilling. A cracked or disconnected overflow pipe will leak water outside the cistern.
Stress, impact, freezing temperatures or degradation of materials can cause hairline cracks in the ceramic, plastic or metal cistern tank itself, leading to drips and leaks.
Determining The Severity Of Your Toilet Cistern Leak
Not all toilet cistern leaks are the same - some drip slowly while others gush heavily. When discovering a leak, your detective work begins to determine if it’s a minor drip you could fix yourself or a major leak requiring a plumbing pro. Look for signs like:
- Infrequent seeping versus steady streaming of water. Minor leaks create occasional drips, while major leaks pour non-stop.
- Small moisture collection under the tank versus large pooled puddles. Big puddles indicate advanced leaking.
- Slightly higher water bills versus substantially increased bills. Major leaks drastically up water usage.
- Tank water level remaining stable or dropping rapidly. Rapid water loss points to a major leak.
- Are there any signs of water damage to the surrounding floors and walls? Major leaks spread and caused water damage.
Assessing these leak clues helps you conclude if it’s a small leak you can likely tackle yourself or a major gusher needing a plumber’s expertise. Minor drips and seeps may lend themselves to do-it-yourself repairs. Anything more severe requires calling in a professional plumber before major property damage occurs.
DIY Toilet Cistern Leak Repairs
For minor toilet cistern leaks and drips, some basic DIY troubleshooting steps are worth trying before calling a plumber.
Tighten Any Loose Fittings
Sometimes, simple loosening and then re-tightening connections can seal a leak. Check for any loose nuts and bolts on the fill valve, water supply line, and overflow pipe that may need tightening. Use an adjustable wrench to tighten fittings carefully - take care not to overtighten.
Replace Worn Flapper Seal
The flapper seal at the base of the cistern is prone to warping and wearing out over time, causing drips. Turn off the water supply and flush out the remaining water. Pop off the old flapper seal and replace it with a new rubber flapper seal matched to your toilet model.
Adjust The Fill Valve
If the fill valve isn’t shutting off properly, you may need to adjust the float arm and/or tighten the valve seat. Carefully bend the float arm to set the proper shut-off point. Tighten the valve seat if needed to seal when closed fully.
Patch Tank Cracks
For hairline cracks in ceramic tanks, apply epoxy adhesives formulated for toilets to seal them. Clean the area thoroughly and let the epoxy fully cure. For plastic tanks, use plastic-welding compounds.
Knowing When It’s Time to Call a Plumber
Attempting DIY cistern leak repairs can be worthwhile for minor issues. But there comes a point when calling a professional plumber becomes the wisest choice.
Signs it’s time to request expert assistance include rapid, large-volume leaks that are anything beyond an occasional drip and likely require a plumber’s skills and tools. Also, if the exact origin of the leak remains a mystery despite your best troubleshooting efforts, a plumber can properly diagnose the source.
If leaks persist after your DIY repair attempts, it’s best not to prolong struggles on your own and instead call in reinforcements. Those newer to plumbing repairs may prefer turning to a professional right away if they have limited DIY know-how.
Any concerns over potential disruption to your household’s water supply indicate it’s safest to rely on an experienced plumber. For major cistern leaks or tricky repairs, a plumber’s technical expertise is advisable since their specialised equipment can fully resolve the issue in the long term.
The Benefits of Hiring a Professional Plumber
Licensed plumbers offer advantages for cistern leak repairs, including expert knowledge of plumbing systems since certified pros understand the nuances of well and cistern setups.
They also have specialised leak detection capabilities and tools to isolate the exact origin of leaks.
Experienced plumbers can handle complex repairs and access and mend hard-to-reach leaks in awkward spots. Plumbers use higher-quality replacement parts and fittings, which help prevent future leakage issues. Reputable plumbers provide warranties on their labour as well.
While hiring a plumber may be pricier upfront, they provide long-term solutions and prevent repeated leaks that lead to higher costs later on. Their expertise is often worth the initial investment for permanently fixing stubborn cistern leaks.
Do You Need Professional Repairs?
Dealing with a leaky cistern can be a headache, leaving you with the tough decision of tackling repairs yourself or calling in a professional. While minor leaks may lend themselves to DIY fixes, major leaks often warrant getting a licensed plumber on the job. Their technical know-how, quality parts, and long-term solutions can actually save you time, money and continued hassle in the long run.
At WP Plumbing, our licensed Melbourne plumbers have the expertise to accurately diagnose and permanently repair any toilet or cistern leak issues for Melbourne homeowners and businesses. We offer upfront pricing, reliable same-day service and warranties on labour for peace of mind.
Don’t struggle with a leaky, dysfunctional cistern - call the professional plumbers at WP Plumbing to fix it fast and right the first time. Reach us at (03) 9122 8652 to schedule a cistern leak assessment and repairs.