Toilets get used every single day in a household and because of that, are easily prone to wear, tear, and the need for repair. Besides swapping out the seat when necessary, one of the things you may have to address is leaks.

If you’re lucky, it’s not the overflowing kind that you’d rather run away from. And if you’re luckier, it won’t be the kind that requires an expensive fix or a new toilet. So, how can you tell if you have a problem?

The first sign will be a toilet that runs after being flushed, or starts running when no one’s around. The latter can startle you out of your sleep at night or give you a fright when you least expect it –just like a ghost. Before calling a plumber to investigate, you can check things out with one simple test: food dye.

Remove the lid from your toilet tank and squeeze some liquid food coloring into the water. Allow it to sit undisturbed for about 20 to 30 minutes and then check the bowl. If there is food coloring inside the toilet bowl, you have a leak.

More than likely you will need to replace the flapper. It’s that red (or black) part that is connected to the chain and pops open and shut when the toilet flushes. What happens is that when the flapper does not fall back into place to seal the drain, it will cause your toilet to act wonky.

Water will leak into the toilet bowl when not in use. Not only is the sound of running water annoying, but it’s costing you money. That is something you can replace on your own rather cheaply and quickly – for about $10 – $20 – or you can call a plumber to do it for you if you want to spend the extra money.

Know that flappers can become worn over time, but in-tank cleaners can cause the rubber on the flapper to become misshapen due to their chlorine content.

If you’ve noticed higher water bills, this could be the cause, and it’s an easy fix. The good news is that if you don’t see any food coloring in the bowl, you don’t have a flapper leak. But you still may need to repair or replace parts inside the tank.

Take a quick look at the water level in the tank. If it’s above that tube that’s connected to the chain, you might have to replace your fill valve or ballcock. If you have average handy skills, then that is something that you can easily knock out on your own. Just remember to shut the water off first!

Check to see if any seals are worn around the bottom of the tank and have those replaced. Should those remedies not work, then sorry, you’ll have to call in a pro. Hopefully, you won’t need to buy a new toilet!

Have you ever used the food dye toilet test? Did you avoid an expensive plumbing repair? What other toilet test tricks do you know?