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Removing a Toilet Tank

Often when a toilet tank leaks, it means you have to separate the bowl and tank, but always check for the easy answers first. When a tank is leaking from the connections for the ballcock, or if water is running out of of the hole for the trip handle, or is spraying out of the top of the ballcock and hitting the tank lid and running down the outside of the tank, all you have to do is fix, adjust or install a new ballcock or water supply line. You do not need to disturb anything else inside the tank nor is it necessary to separate the bowl and tank.

But if water is leaking from between the tank and bowl; dripping from the nuts where the couplng bolts hold the tank and bowl together; or leaking from a crack in the tank, the only remedy is to separate the tank and bowl. There's no fixing a cracked tank; it needs to be replaced. But remember, a new tank may cost as much as a whole new toilet, so compare prices before you decide to replace a tank.

To separate a tank from the bowl, start by spraying all the bolts with a penetrating lubricant a few hours ahead of time, then turn the water supply off, and disconnect the water supply line.

Next, hold a large screwdriver on the head of the coupling bolts inside the tank -- but don't turn it -- instead loosen the nuts under the tank with a wrench. Once the nuts are removed , you can lift the tank off the bowl. To replace the gasket inside the tank under the flush valve, you'll need a special plumbing tool called a "spud wrench" to unscrew the big nut that holds the flush valve in place.

After going to all this trouble, you should consider installing all new parts. Buy a new set of bolts, a flush valve and ballcock rather than just replacing the old gaskets and washers.

As noted above, it is shortsighted and risky to attempt to repair a cracked toilet tank. Either replace the entire toilet or replace the tank. Cracked toilet tanks have been known to break open; if you are not at home the water will begin to run and continue to do so until someone finds the disaster.

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