Loose toilet causes injury (C) Daniel Friedman Toilet Leak Catastrophes You Can Avoid: cause & prevention
     

  • TOILET LEAK CATASTROPHES - CONTENTS: Broken, damaged, leaky toilets: improper toilet installation can lead to odors, leaks into the floor, rot, insect damage, mold contamination
    • Cracked toilet porcelain, toilet tanks, or toilet bases
    • Improper toilet tank installation can cause sudden bursting of the toilet tank and a catastrophic building flood
    • A loose toilet is not only leaky, it is dangerous and can cause serious injury if it tips over while in use
  • TOILET OVERFLOW EMERGENCY - separate article
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about toilet leaks, smells, cracks, even injuries or disasters
  • REFERENCES

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Toilet cracks, leaks & other toilet catastrophes: this article discusses the causes and prevention of catastrophic toilet leaks that can flood a building. We explain that an improperly mounted or loose toilet not only leaks sewage into the building but odors and sewer gases: unsanitary and potentially explosive. We describe how an over-tightened toilet reservoir tank cracked years later, flooding a building. At our toilet home page, TOILET TYPES, CONTROLS, PARTS we discuss the full range of types of toilets available. At TOILET INSTALLATION PROCEDURE we give the basic procedure for installing a toilet.

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Toilet Leaks, Injuries, and Toilet-Flood Catastrophes You Can Avoid

Loose toilet causes injury (C) Daniel FriedmanIf your toilet is overflowing right now, turnoff its water supply. Try removing the tank lid to push down the flush valve, and when you catch your breath, take a look at TOILET OVERFLOW EMERGENCY for some quick ways to stop a toilet that is about to overflow.

Loose Toilets can Cause Injury

Watch out: A loose toilet risks more than leaks and odors (discussed below). Anyone, but particularly someone who is elderly, sick, or disabled and who has to "drop down" their body onto a toilet to use it can be seriously injured if the toilet breaks away at the floor and tips over like the tipped toilet shown in our photo at left.

If you expect such occupants in the building you may need to review and comply with ADA standards for accessibility, including the installation of grab rails and provision of wheelchair space.

Details are found at DISABLED or ELDERLY-USE TOILETS.

 

Hidden Toilet Leaks, Sewer Gases, Rot

Leaky toilet at base (C) DanieL FriedmanWatch out: a loose toilet will leak into the floor structure and if present, the ceiling below, risking costly rot, insect damage, or mold contamination, or odors and sewer gas leak.

Details are at Leaky Toilet Seals - Odors.

Also see PLUMBING FIXTURE TRAPS and SEWER GAS ODORS where we discuss all of the causes of sewer gas smells or toilet odors in buildings and how to track down a smell to its source.

Watch out: loose is bad but also, don't over-tighten the toilet base mounting bolts or you risk breaking the toilet.

 

Toilet Leak Catastrophes - Cracked Toilet Tank Floods Building

Toilet tank crack leak (C) D FriedmanWatch out: when assembling the toilet tank or top section to the bowl, also be careful not to over-tighten the mounting bolts.

Doing so may break a porcelain toilet tank immediately, or, as we have observed, an over-tightened toilet tank may suddenly crack years later, flooding the building and leading to costly water damage.

Our photos below describe just this case: the toilet tank cracked suddenly (no one was at home), several years after the tank had been mounted (and apparently over-tightened) on to the toilet bowl.

The offending toilet is shown at left, and in close-ups in our photos below.

This cracked toilet tank was no trivial problem.

Especially because no one was at home at the time of this toilet leak, when the toilet tank cracked the toilet fill valve just kept running on, flooding half of the first floor of the building, soaking carpets, furnishings, drywall and trim, much of which had to be removed and disposed-of just to dry out the building.

This burst toilet tank flooded the home during a hot but rainy day in July. Luckily the owners arrived home on the day of the catastrophe and began an aggressive water cleanup, successfully avoiding a still more-costly mold contamination remediation job.

Trim removed following flooding due to burst toilet tank (C) D FriedmanOur photo (left) gives a clue about how we proceeded to avoid a more costly mold problem: all of the floor/wall trim boards were removed and tossed outside (where it was still raining).

Anywhere that drywall was wet (along floors where floodwaters had spread in the building, we removed the bottom 12" of drywall.

We installed electric fans, heaters, and dehumidifiers to dry out the building as rapidly as possibly.

Even so, checking behind a small section of wall/floor trim board that had been left in place, more than a week later the drywall behind that trim was still wet, as was the wall cavity.

Rapid response and thoroughness are important to avoid more extensive mold damage when the interior of a home is soaked for any reason.

In our cracked toilet photos beginning at below left our pencil points to the crack at the bottom of the toilet tank, and at right you can see that the crack originates on the bottom of the toilet tank where hardware fittings had been over-tightened - in this case during replacement of the toilet tank fill valve.

Toilet, one piece design (C) Daniel Friedman Toilet, one piece design (C) Daniel Friedman

Since two-piece toilet tank mounting hardware will normally include some remarkably thick rubber mounting washers, if the toilet tank is properly bolted you'll see that it does not leak, but you can wiggle it slightly at its mounting point to the toilet bowl after the toilet tank has been secured in place.

If your building is flooded from a burst or overflowing toilet, see FLOOD RESPONSE CHECKLIST. Our complete guide to responding to building flooding begins at FLOOD DAMAGE ASSESSMENT, SAFETY & CLEANUP

Also see FLOODS IN buildings-priorities and also PRIORITIES for PREVENTING INDOOR MOLD for an explanation of how to prevent mold contamination after building flooding.

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