How Decisions Can Impact the Amount of Water Lost Due to Toilet Problems

The decision to be Reactive or Proactive in your thinking and approach to unexpected high water bills has a direct impact on the amount of water lost due to water-wasting problems (overflows, running toilets, leaking flappers, faulty fill valves, etc.) and subsequently, the dollars spent on these problems.

Our research over the past twenty plus years has shown there are five primary factors that lead to these problems. Three of the factors involve the mechanical operation of the toilet and are the most controllable factors by the Property Manager, while two of the factors are environmental. The Mechanical Factors are: 1) Maintenance schedule for replacing flappers, fill valves, and other internal mechanicals, 2) the type and quality of replacement flappers, and 3) the type and quality of replacement fill valves. The Environmental Factors are: 1) Water Quality, or the relative “hardness” of the water and 2) Geographic Location, or setting of the property such as urban, rural, etc.

Below is one example of the choice between being reactive or proactive in handling the mechanical factors by either simply responding with minimal actions by the Property Manager or using a detection system, such as the LeakAlertor, to provide early warning of toilet problems.

Examples of Reactive vs. Proactive Decision Making

Reactive Thinking

A high water bill is received; Property Manager makes the decision to implement minimal repairs using inexpensive replacement parts.

Mechanical Factors:

  • Flappers and Fill Valves replaced on as-needed basis, if the problem part can be identified.
  • Adjustable Flappers and Non-Premium Fill Valves used for replacement.


  • Potential Monthly Water Loss: 272,700-353,800 Gallons
  • Potential Monthly Increased Water Cost: $3,640-$4,720

Proactive Thinking

Implementation of LeakAlertor™ technology to provide early detection and notification of problems.

Mechanical Factors:

  • Flappers and Fill Valves replaced only when necessary, as indicated by LeakAlertor.
  • OEM (or similar) Flappers and Premium Fill Valves (such as the Fluid Master 400A) used for replacement.


  • Potential Monthly Water Loss: 44,500-125,600 Gallons
  • Potential Increased Water Cost: $540-$1,600 monthly

Basis of Assumptions for both Scenarios:

  • This is a water loss comparison only, cost of replacement parts, maintenance labor and other intangibles are not included.
  • 150 toilets on the property.
  • Per Unit Cost of Water calculated at the National Average of $13.48 per 1,000 Gallons.
  • Environmental Factors: Urban, Very Hard water.
  • Water loss is estimated using the Water Loss Calculator below.

Calculating the Cost

The issue is not whether toilets leak, run, or overflow, because they all eventually do, but rather your response to the underlying mechanical and environmental factors which led to the problems. The key is choosing to be either reactive or proactive, knowing there is a cost to either choice. Which cost are you willing to pay?

Use the calculators below to determine your potential water loss, the financial cost of that water, and the break-even point for implementing a LeakAlertor solution.

Quick Calculation

If my water loss is Low|Medium|High, then the potential projected Water Loss for 100 toilets would be between

Personalized Calculations

Want to determine how your choices impact your water use? Read through the following factors, then select the choice most closely aligned to your current situation. Based on your responses we’ll calculate the potential water loss for your situation. Change your assumptions to see how they impact the amount of water loss.

Expand All | Collapse All


Maintenance Schedule

How often flappers and fill valves are changed plays a major role in determining how much and how long water will be wasted. It’s necessary to balance the cost of replacement, including materials, maintenance time, and tenant/guest inconvenience, against an increasing likelihood of flapper/ fill valve degradation leading to undetected water loss. Your maintenance schedule, if you even have one, greatly influences the amount of water lost over an entire property. A lack of routine maintenance allows sediments and other materials to build-up on the flappers and damage or impair fill valve operation. Not changing either leads to the greatest waste as an ever-increasing number of toilets develop problems as aging flappers will warp, crack and become more prone to “sticking” and fill valves become more prone to sticking open, or leaking. Changing all parts at the same time presents budgetary and logistical problems.

Optimal Solution: Change only those parts which exhibit problems, at the onset of the problem(s).

Range of Assumptions: (click the one that is closest to your schedule)

Every Three (3) Years
Every Five (5) Years
As Needed (no schedule)

Flappers OEM, Universal or, Adjustable

Flappers are prone to two faults, leaking (phantom flush/equilibrium) and sticking wide-open (aka running toilets). Flappers operate best when made by the original manufacturer or a third-party Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) as these OEM parts are manufactured to meet stricter specifications, and thereby create a tighter seal with the flush valve. Universal flappers may reduce initial costs, but are more prone to leaks and sticking wide-open because they are designed to operate across a wide range of flush valves, overflow tubes, etc. Adjustable flappers allow property managers to adjust the volume of water used in a flush. On one hand they potentially reduce the amount of water used per flush; but, unless the correct adjustment has already been determined, significant maintenance time could be spent in determining the optimal adjustment and fluctuates with each individual toilet. Flappers can stick wide-open, without the user being aware, for several reasons.

Optimal Solution: Have a methodology in place to identify flappers which are prone to leaking and sticking wide-open.

Range of Assumptions:

Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM)

Fill Valves

Like flappers, buying the optimal fill valve has an extremely high influence on the amount of water used, maintence issues, and potential water wasting problems. When replacing a fill valve, a premium quality design and manufacturing process are key to making the best selection, such as the Lavelle or Fluid Master 400 Series or fill valves. These fill valves tend to have the fewest problems, though, as they age the diaphragms are prone to wear. Inexpensive, non-premium fill valves, usually imported, not US made, have a greater incidence of failure due to poor manufacturing standards. These valves tend to leak sooner, more frequently and to a greater extent than premium fill valves. Toilets still using a ball cock fill valve are inefficient, prone to malfunction and generally should be replaced.

Optimal Solution: Use a Fluidmaster 400, or similar quality, fill valve.

Range of Assumptions:

Ball Cock (Pre- 1992 toilets)

Water Quality/Geology

Water quality, the amount of calcium and/or magnesium as well as the presence of sediments in the water, influences how quickly parts within the tank degrade. The higher the presence of these materials the more quickly flappers warp, crack, and otherwise fail. Likewise, the diaphragms inside the fill valve can be damaged, causing them to leak, become stuck open or, when in combination with a leaking flapper, go into equilibrium. In addition, poor quality water also allows for build-up of sediments on the flapper, flush valve and other components inside the toilet tank. The location of your property within the US determines the quality of your water, from Very Hard to Soft. Several maps are available to help determine the degree of hardness water your property is likely using.

Optimal Solution: If your property is located where the water is Hard/Very Hard use of a water softener can improve the water quality.

Range of Assumptions:

Moderately Hard
Very Hard

Location, Location, Location

As with everything related to real estate, it all comes down to location, and even when thinking about what influences water loss problems, location can matter. If your property is in an urban setting, consistent water pressure, overall quality of the service lines, even access to a continuous flow of water are all improved. These factors present less stress on overall toilet operation. Less stress equals more efficiency and less wear and tear on components. In the event a property is sourcing its water from a well, external (and at times uncontrollable) factors can cause undue stresses on the water system including, drought, extreme rainfall/flooding, intrusion of chemicals into the water table, etc. Also, any condition which artificially decreases the amount of water available even temporarily, such as a high percentage of toilets continuously running, can have an adverse effect on the operation of a toilet in general, and again could lead to premature wear or damage to components.

Optimal Solution: n/a

Range of Assumptions:


Suggested Inputs

Based on your selections above we recommend the following inputs to calculate a “high” and “low” potential range of water loss. These are suggestions only and you are free to choose your own inputs. Changing your inputs in the Factors section above will change the recommended inputs below.

Percentage of Leaking Flappers
Gallons per Day (GPD)
Running Toilet Percentage
Gallons per Minute (GPM)

The Calculator (Potential Monthly Water Loss)

Click here to enter suggested inputs, or enter your inputs in the fields below. Then hit calculate.

Input Range
Percentage of Leaking Flappers 0-25%
Gallons per Day (GPD) 0-250
Running Toilet Percentage 0.1-2.0%
Gallons per Minute (GPM) 0-5
Number of Toilets

The Calculator (Potential Monthly Cost in Dollars)

Enter your inputs in the fields below.

Unit of Measure
Cost per Billing Unit $

Break-Even Point (In Months)

Choose your solution
Based on your responses above, and assuming you take corrective action for indicated repairs in a timely fashion ⃰, the projected break-even point for your project would be approximately ⃰ ⃰

⃰ Within a few minutes for a running toilet, or within one to two days for replacing a leaking flapper/faulty fill valve.
⃰ ⃰ Based on retail cost for LeakAlertor 6000 of $32.75. Current prospective cost for LeakAlertor Pro is $50 per unit (node) plus $200 for the gateway plus a monthly subscription cost of $1.30 per unit.
Contact Ed Whartnaby or Ernie Howard for further information or quantity pricing.