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rittertig
Leaky Toilet

First of all I llive in a mobile home/trailer. Lately I have noticed that the toilet bowl is leaking a little water. I can't find a leak but when you sit on the toilet you can hear a drip. Also you can sort of smell sewage sometimes. I have tightened the flange bolts, but still have this problem. My questions are:

1) Is this most likely a flange problem?
2) Will mobile homes also have cast iron flanges?
3) How would I know what type of flange to get?

Thanks,
Rita

HoustonRemodeler
Re: Leaky Toilet

Rita,

If you smell sewer gasses its most likely the wax ring that has failed.

You can replace the wax ring, or switch to a waxless ring such as SaniSeal

A. Spruce
Re: Leaky Toilet
rittertig wrote:

First of all I llive in a mobile home/trailer. Lately I have noticed that the toilet bowl is leaking a little water. I can't find a leak but when you sit on the toilet you can hear a drip. Also you can sort of smell sewage sometimes. I have tightened the flange bolts, but still have this problem. My questions are:

1) Is this most likely a flange problem?
2) Will mobile homes also have cast iron flanges?
3) How would I know what type of flange to get?

Thanks,
Rita

1 - Flanges don't tend to go bad unless poorly installed or hold down bolts are over tightened. The odor is most likely a bad wax ring, which is relatively easy to replace.

2 - No, Mobile homes are made as cheaply as possible, there will be no steel, cast iron, copper or anything else of any value to be found on them. You will have an ABS plastic flange.

3 - Start with a necked wax ring or one of the new rubber seals that are now available and supposed to be a permanent solution. Wax rings come with and without a plastic neck, I prefer the ones with a neck, as it just adds a little more safety into the mix. Rings also come with and without new toilet hold down bolts. You may or may not need to change yours, you won't know until you pull the toilet. I would recommend getting the ring that includes new hardware too.

To address a couple other things you've mentioned, the drip can be internal. If the float in the tank is set too high, water can drain into the overflow tube and you can sometimes hear a drip sound from it. Check your float level and make sure it's set correctly, usually about an inch below the top of the overflow tube. Another drip point can be the inlet valve leaking. There is a tube from the valve to the overflow tube that refills the bowl after a flush. If the valve is leaking and water is dripping from this supply tube, you guessed it, another drip noise. Less likely, but still possible, is the flapper valve leaking and overfilling the bowl. As the water drains through the neck of the bowl, it can sometimes be heard dripping into the flange below. Not a likely scenario, but possible.

If you suspect the wax ring is bad, DO NOT delay getting it repaired, as the subfloor of your trailer is particle board and it will deteriorate rapidly when exposed to moisture. The longer you wait, the more damage that will occur. You don't want to have to replace your bathroom floor as well.

If you need help with the procedure to change a wax ring, pull a toilet, or replace the tank works, let us know and we'll walk you through it.

rittertig
Re: Leaky Toilet

Thanks so very much for your help. You have been a great help and I will do as you said and let you know how it went. Thanks again

A. Spruce wrote:

1 - Flanges don't tend to go bad unless poorly installed or hold down bolts are over tightened. The odor is most likely a bad wax ring, which is relatively easy to replace.

2 - No, Mobile homes are made as cheaply as possible, there will be no steel, cast iron, copper or anything else of any value to be found on them. You will have an ABS plastic flange.

3 - Start with a necked wax ring or one of the new rubber seals that are now available and supposed to be a permanent solution. Wax rings come with and without a plastic neck, I prefer the ones with a neck, as it just adds a little more safety into the mix. Rings also come with and without new toilet hold down bolts. You may or may not need to change yours, you won't know until you pull the toilet. I would recommend getting the ring that includes new hardware too.

To address a couple other things you've mentioned, the drip can be internal. If the float in the tank is set too high, water can drain into the overflow tube and you can sometimes hear a drip sound from it. Check your float level and make sure it's set correctly, usually about an inch below the top of the overflow tube. Another drip point can be the inlet valve leaking. There is a tube from the valve to the overflow tube that refills the bowl after a flush. If the valve is leaking and water is dripping from this supply tube, you guessed it, another drip noise. Less likely, but still possible, is the flapper valve leaking and overfilling the bowl. As the water drains through the neck of the bowl, it can sometimes be heard dripping into the flange below. Not a likely scenario, but possible.

If you suspect the wax ring is bad, DO NOT delay getting it repaired, as the subfloor of your trailer is particle board and it will deteriorate rapidly when exposed to moisture. The longer you wait, the more damage that will occur. You don't want to have to replace your bathroom floor as well.

If you need help with the procedure to change a wax ring, pull a toilet, or replace the tank works, let us know and we'll walk you through it.

Fencepost
Re: Leaky Toilet

If the bolts that hold the toilet to the floor are rusty or corroded, plan to replace them. When setting the toilet, you will need to compress the wax ring (if you go with that product) until the toilet is completely sitting on the floor. If it's not completely down, it will settle over time, the bolts will get loose, and you'll have another leak to fix.

They are sold in kits with bolts, nuts, and washers. The bolts have a special flat, oblong head on them, so you can't just use a standard hex bolt from the bin at the hardware store. Be sure to purchase a kit with solid brass bolts and stainless steel nuts. There are some that are plated steel, and these do not last. The bolt will be too long and will need to be cut off after installation to attach the plastic cover; a pair of bolt cutters works great but a hacksaw blade wrapped in masking tape for a handle works, too. Some kits feature bolts that can be broken off rather than cut.

Mastercarpentry
Re: Leaky Toilet

Having dealt with more than my share of these, I'll go further and say to be prepared to repair the floor too. The particle-board flooring A. Spruce mentioned does not like any moisture at all and if there's been any leakage at all, it will already be crumbling. Worst is that the crumbling will grow as the now-unsupported sides next to the crumbled areas fail. Thank goodness many of the newer trailers have gotten away from this junk material.

The black ABS waste piping also normally found in trailers is more flexible than other types, which means that the flange will easily distort and leak if overtightened. Add a metal reinforcing/repair flange ring over it, attach it solidly through every screw-hole, and definitely use a flanged bowl seal that directs the waste down into the pipe, not just sealing around it. The usual gray supply piping is also notorious for leaks so check for them regularly, and wipe up all spilled water on the floor immediately.

Some of the newer trailers of the best grades actually aren't too bad compared to stick-built homes, but anything older or lesser is going to keep you busy with repairs and fall apart quickly if you don't stay on top of them as they crop up. Water is their mortal enemy so make sure it stays where it belongs- outside in the weather and inside the pipes.

Phil

A. Spruce
Re: Leaky Toilet
Mastercarpentry wrote:

The usual gray supply piping is also notorious for leaks so check for them regularly, and wipe up all spilled water on the floor immediately.

To add just a tad more . . . NEVER NEVER NEVER turn off the water at the fixture, turn off the main to the trailer. The cheap plastic valves at the fixtures will almost certainly leak once you move them and replacement is the only repair, i.e. calling in a plumber to change it for you. Avoid it altogether and just shut off at the main.

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