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Leaking Toilet ?

The other day I received a call about an issue with a toilet. …. the scenario was an interesting one.

The homeowner has two bathrooms and when cleaning the toilets she uses a cleaning solution added to the water in the bowl. This solution has a blue color to it and after cleaning the bowl she leaves this solution until the next flush.

She had asked why one of the toilets the solution disappears and the water in the bowl is clear while the other ….. the cleaning solution remains?

The initial thought was the flapper may be leaking which can be a common problem.

Here is a brief summary as to what a flapper is and what the flapper does.

When the toilet is flushed water from the tank is evacuated through an opening at the bottom of the tank where it meets the bowl. The flapper covers this opening and is attached to the flush handle. When the flush handle is activated the flapper is raised exposing the opening and allowing the water from the tank to flow into the bowl.

This water from the tank enters the bowl and raises the water level high enough to over spill into the siphon trap designed into the toilet. Once the siphon action begins it will allow the bowl to drain.

In the normal course of the flush the water from the tank enters the bowl rapidly and creates a cyclonic action for helping to clean the bowl and providing enough force to hopefully drain whatever from the bowl.

A leaking flapper may allow a trickle of water to escape from the tank and into the bowl.
In cases this may be an obvious situation where you may see ripples in the water of the bowl and/or hear the tank filling on and off or continuously.

In this case this would mean an obvious adjustment so the flapper is allowed to fully close or may require replacement because of deterioration.

There are occasions when this can be a discrete leak …. meaning there may be a slight leak from the flapper and may not present the more obvious indications.

So what does this all mean?

As explained earlier when the level of water in the bowl is raised this will spill over into the siphon trap allowing the water in the bowl to drain down the waste pipe. The leaking from the tank into the bowl will eventually cause this happen.

Now a slight leakage may equate to only a couple of gallons over the course of an entire day but equate this to 14 gallons a week …56 gallons a month and you see how much water and money is going down the drain needlessly.

So back to the beginning with this story…..

I arrived at this person’s house fully expecting the leaky flap scenario…. but as I removed the cover to the tank the problem was immediately apparent … and it wasn’t a flapper issue.

What I discovered right away was the water level in the tank was too high.

In many conventional designed toilets there is a fill valve ( commonly referred to as a ballcock ) some sort of float mechanism to open the fill valve to refill the tank and to close the fill valve when the water level is reached at a specific level.
From the fill valve there is a rubber hose that empties water into a fill tube to refill the bowl. This fill tube is also an overflow tube …. it’s purpose is just that …… to prevent the tank from overfilling and eventually over spilling. The excess water will drain into this fill/overflow tube and drain into the bowl.

In this case there were two issues with the float mechanism that wasn’t closing the fill valve completely …… allowing the water level to slowly increase to the point of spilling over into the fill/overflow tube.

Being it has the float ball attached to the fill valve with a brass rod … this needed adjusting to allow the proper point to shutoff the fill valve at the correct level….. as it was set for being at a level past this and slightly above the top of the fill/overflow tube and would slowly drain and refill over and over.

In this case there was a LINE ______ stamping in the tank that is the reference.

The other issue was the float ball was rubbing along the edge of the tank causing a binding preventing the float to freely move.
Perform the necessary adjustments and everything was fine.

Now considering there are two bathrooms I decided to check the other toilet and found that one also had the water level too high …. while not as bad as the first one it would leak slightly as well.

This person was quite relieved after realizing there was an issue and having it resolved …. considering she feels this had been ongoing for over a year and how much water and money had gone down the drain.

A simple test can be done to check for leaking toilets …. place A few drops of food coloring in the tank …. If it ends up in the bowl then check the above items.

Hope this helps.:)

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