Is Your Toilet Haunted by Ghost Flushing?
It's the middle of the night and you suddenly hear the toilet flush. But everyone else in the house is sound asleep. What's going on? In the plumbing biz we call this "ghost flushing" and it actually happens at all times of the day. You just tend to hear it when the house is more quiet. Here's what's happening and how you can banish these ghosts forever.
What is Ghost Flushing?
Typically, an indication of a slow leak in the tank or bowl, ghost flushing can happen for a number of reasons:
- Bad toilet stopper ball or flapper
- Defective flush gasket
- Loose fill tube
- Flapper chain needs adjustment
- Float ball is at wrong level
Aside from being extremely annoying, a leaky toilet can waste thousands of gallons of water a month, so it's important to get it fixed ASAP.
Steps to Prevent Ghost Flushing
There are several things you can do to put an end to ghost flushing. If you know how to perform toilet repairs, you might be able to fix the problem yourself. Otherwise it's a good idea to call in a professional so you don't do further damage.
- First, turn off the water valve located underneath the bowl. You won't be able to use the toilet until it's fixed, but that will stop the phantom flushing.
- Use what's known as the dye test by putting food dye in the tank. Leave it there for about 30 minutes or so. If the water in the bowl turns the same color as the dye, the flapper is likely leaking.
- Replacing the flapper usually fixes the problem. It's a fairly simple DIY project that involves removing all the water from the tank by repeatedly flushing the toilet (with the valve off), removing the faulty flapper or stopper ball from its chain, and then reversing the process with a new flapper.
Once the new flapper's in place, turn the water supply back on and wait for the tank to fill. Flush the toilet to make sure the tank properly fills again.
Call Your Plumber
Some toilet repairs can be much more complicated that you might think. If your DIY efforts don't do the trick, or if you suspect there's a bigger problem with the toilet, it's a good idea to call in an experienced, professional plumber to take a look. There are times, like when the tank has a hairline crack, that it's best to replace the toilet. If that's your solution, be sure to pick a high-efficiency model that helps you save money on your utility bills while conserving water.