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In this article

  • How to reduce the amount of water your toilet uses
  • How to check for toilet leaks
  • Where to find waterwise approved products for your bathroom

Toilets in our home use more water than you might think. In fact, they are the biggest contributor of wastewater in some homes. Luckily, there are several ways to save water in the toilet. A Waterwise Plumber can help you install water efficient products and fix leaks.

Signs your toilet is leaking

A trickle in the toilet can waste around 9,000L of water a year. There are some tell-tale signs to look for that indicate you have a leak in your toilet.

Water around the base of the toilet

It’s never a good start to the day when you step in water that’s pooling around the base of the toilet. There’s a high chance that you have a leak in your toilet that needs further investigation by a plumber. 

Staining along the path of water

If you have staining where water travels down the bowl, it could mean water is present longer than it takes to fill. Even water that isn’t clean shouldn’t leave a stain in the short time that it runs down the bowl. The stain is most likely caused by dripping which indicates a leak.

You can hear a noise

It’s normal to hear the rush of water and pressure building up in the pipes when a toilet flushes. However, if you continue to hear a noise after the flush, it’s likely the valve has an issue and needs a plumber to take a look.

A smell from the toilet

If you have cleaned the inside and surrounds of the toilet, it shouldn’t smell. The stench of sewage could mean a leak from the septic pipe or tank. It’s not only unpleasant living with a smelly toilet but can be harmful to your health. Don’t delay in calling a plumber. 

Rusted metal parts

There are only a few metal parts in your toilet. They are alloys that tolerate the damp but constant dampness causes surface rust. Rusted parts on a toilet may indicate that you have a leak.

Flushing a dual flush toilet

Toilet maintenance check 

An annual review of your toilet to check for leaks can save thousands of litres in wasted water and an expensive water bill.

  1. Remove the lid of the toilet tank and flush the toilet.
  2. Check the flapper isn't getting stuck in the open position. This allows water in and causes the constant trickling sound. It may be the chain or arm that is getting caught or the flapper isn’t aligned with the opening and needs adjusting. If the flapper is old or rusted, it may need replacing. Clean out any build-up of sediment. 
  3. If you're unsure if your toilet has a leak, you can do a check. Place four or five drops of food colouring into the cistern and leave it for half an hour without flushing. If you see any colour appear in the toilet bowl, then you have a leak and should contact a Waterwise Plumber to fix it.
  4. Try the tap on the wall and make sure it turns easily. If there is any resistance or it doesn't turn at all, call a plumber to have it repaired or replaced. Check the hose is in good condition and if not, ask a plumber to replace it.
  5. Check the water valve is shutting off. Try pulling on the valve to see if the running water ceases and the water level doesn't need adjusting on the float. If not, the washers may need replacing.
  6. Water from the tank enters the bowl through the base of the tank. A valve connected to the knob outside the tank is connected to a flapper which stops the water when the tank is full. If the flapper isn't stopping the water from seeping into the bowl, it may be either loose or broken. Contact a Waterwise Plumber to fix it.
  7. If your toilet is blocked, try the trusty plunger or a snake. If these don't work, call in a plumber. They have more advanced tools to clear clogs that may be deeper in the plumbing system.
  8. Replacing cistern seal rubbers every two years can reduce the chance of a leak.

Go for dual flush

An older style single flush toilet can use as much as 11 litres of water with every flush. Dual flush toilets use gravity to move waste and water through the pipes. A dual flush toilet needs six litres (and some 4.5 litres of water) for a full flush and three litres for a half flush. By upgrading from a single flush toilet to a dual flush system, you can save up to 80L of water per day.

Choose water efficient WELS 4 star models. A list of Waterwise WELS products including 4 star toilets is on the Waterwise products page. If you choose to replace the toilet’s cistern only, ensure the pan is suitable for lower flow rates of the cistern. Use a Waterwise Plumber to install your new toilet. Once your new toilet is in, be sure to use the half flush, where possible.

Protect the pipes

Remember, only flush the 3 Ps down the loo – pee, poo and (toilet) paper – unless you see the flushable logo. All other objects such as hygiene products, wet wipes, cotton tips, tissues, paper towels and food waste go in the bin. Flushing these down the toilet wastes valuable water, but can also cause blockages. 

Even some products such as wet wipes that are labelled as ‘flushable’ don’t break down enough to be safe for the pipes. When you’re at the supermarket, check for the flushable symbol on packaging. If there’s no flushable symbol, bin it instead. Get more tips on what not to flush

Waterwise product advice

Using waterwise approved products such as dual flush toilets will help you reduce your water use in the bathroom. Together with Australia’s water conservation label, Smart Approved WaterMark, our waterwise product endorsement program makes it easy for you to identify these products.

Before purchasing new bathroom appliances or fixtures, check for the Waterwise and Smart Approved WaterMark logos, or browse recommended products on the Smart Approved WaterMark website.