Replacing Toilet Tank Gasket to Stop Leaks

The hard water and minerals in the water can damage the gasket between the toilet tank and the toilet bowl. This gasket keeps a watertight seal between the two parts of the toilet making it possible to prevent leaks under the toilet tank. Once it’s worn out such as from the minerals and chemicals in the water, you’ll need to replace it.

Replacing a toilet gasket is quite easy given that you only need to empty the toilet tank then remove it from the bowl to access the gasket system. You then remove the worn out or damaged gasket then replace it with a new one. This process can take about 30 minutes from start to finish.

Besides the faulty toilet tank gasket, there are other causes to the leaks from the toilet tank which shall be discussed below. Their solutions shall also be detailed. Keep in mind that some toilets might not have the same parts and features as the ones discussed here. However, the fixes to the issues are almost always the same.

How to replace a toilet tank gasket

For this exercise, you will need the following items:

  • Screwdriver
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Sponge
  • Wire brush
  • Rag
  • Vinegar
  • New spud washer
  • New toilet tank gasket

Once you gather these items, follow these steps:

1. Turn off the water at the shutoff valve

The shutoff valve is the tap-like feature on the wall a pipe leading to the toilet tank. It controls the water from the mains to the tank and should be closed by turning it in a clockwise direction until it’s tight.

2. Empty the toilet tank

Flush the toilet several times to get rid of any drops of water in it. If there is any water left after the repeated flushing, use a sponge or piece of cloth to soak it up. The aim is to have a dry tank or at least one without water.

3. Remove the tank from the bowl of the toilet

Using the adjustable wrench, remove the bolts under the toilet tank by turning them counterclockwise until they come off. After that, use the same wrench to hold the main tank bolt then remove it as well. This should be also be turned in a counterclockwise direction until it comes off from the tank.

After that, lift the toilet tank up and off it’s base. Place it on a flat surface and on its side. To avoid damaging the tank, place a thick piece of cloth or foam on the surface you place it.

4. Replace the spud washer

Remove the old spud washer then replace it with a new washer. You should then tighten it before heading over to the next steps. If it doesn’t come off right away, use the wrench and turn it counterclockwise to remove it.

5. Remove the bolts and gasket

Remove the bolts from the tank then the gasket around the point the tank connects to the bowl. Clean the area to remove any debris or dirt on it. This can be mineral deposits in the water, dust or a disintegrated gasket.

6. Install the new gasket

Start by returning each bolt to its original hole inside the bottom of the tank. After that, place the gasket over the bolts making sure the gasket is aligned correctly. Return the nuts onto the bolts then tighten them by hand until they’re tight.

7. Return the bowl to the top of the toilet seat

Place the toilet tank over the toilet tank such that the opening on the tank aligns with the corresponding opening on the toilet seat. Slowly tighten the nuts using the adjustable wrench until they are tight. Don’t tighten them too much as they’ll end up cracking the toilet tank.

Once done, turn on the water at the shutoff valve then check whether the tank leaks again or not.

Dealing with Toilet Tank Gasket leaks

Other than a worn out gasket, other issues which can lead to leaks in the toilet tank gasket and their solutions are as follows:

Loose nuts and bolts

The nuts and bolts holding the toilet tank to the toilet bowl should always be tight enough to prevent leaks from happening. In some cases, however, you might have loose nuts either from not tightening them enough or they’re just worn out and can’t hold the water in.

Toilet gasket bolts
Gasket Bolts

For such a case, you should simply replace them. The procedure is similar to the one above with the difference being that you replace the nuts and bolts instead of the gaskets and spud washer.

Another aspect to consider in this category is the tightness of the nuts. If you do it too much, you might crack the toilet tank especially if it’s made of porcelain or other brittle material. Just tighten the nuts by hand till they are tight then use a wrench to add a quarter turn to the bolt. That’s enough.

Poorly positioned gasket

The gasket on the toilet tank can only provide a watertight seal when it’s positioned correctly. Otherwise, water will find its way around it leading to leaks. This can occur during the installation process such that the gasket isn’t positioned correctly on the bolts and opening of the toilet tank.

The solution to this is simply refitting the gasket to the toilet tank. To do that, follow the procedure above for replacing the gasket but, instead, just use the same gasket but fit it correctly this time.

Faulty flapper

The flapper of your toilet helps keep the water in the tank and also allows flushing when the need arises. It does this by opening and closing the entry to the toilet bowl. At times, water can leak around the flapper and find its way into the bowl. Other times, the water going through the flapper can leak through the gasket and out of the tank.

The solution to this is replacing the flapper in the following steps:

  • Shutoff the water at the shutoff valve.
  • Empty the toilet tank.
  • Remove the flapper from the toilet.
  • Prepare the new flapper for installation.
  • Install the new flapper.
  • Adjust the toilet flushing chain to the right length.
  • Test the new flapper.

This should solve the leaks caused by the flapper.

Gasket Maintenance Tips to Avoid Leaks and Damages

Some tips to keep the toilet tank gasket in good shape and avoid leaks include the following:

  • Replace the gasket often to avoid leaks. This can be once a year or several years for most toilets.
  • Always check for the integrity of the bolts and nuts to ensure they’re in good condition. If they’re not, replace them.
  • When replacing any parts of the toilet, choose the ones that are similar to the original ones. This prevents incompatibility issues and also ensures a good working. This goes for the flapper, gasket, nuts and the bolts.

With these tips, you’re sure of keeping your gaskets in good shape and your toilet tank free of leaks.

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