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Toilet Fill Valve Causing Water Hammer


toilet ballcockI visited a customer's home yesterday after she complained about water hammer. Water hammer is a loud banging noise caused by a shock wave when the flow of water is abruptly stopped. Electric valves, such as washing machine valves. You can also get water hammer if you manually shut off a valve, for example if you slam you hand against the knob on a faucet. Here is an article on installing water hammer arrestors.

That isn't what I found at the customer's house. Instead, of a loud "banging" of the pipes, I found a repeated rumbling noise, almost like a machine gun. The vibration was enough to drive anyone crazy. This turned out to be a toilet fill valve that wouldn't shut off completely. When someone would flush a particular toilet, the water would refill in the tank as normal, but the fill valve wouldn't stop and consequently let water flow down the overflow tube and into the flush valve. The sound was the water repeatedly being turned on and off by the defective valve. This occurs more often with the old-style ballcock, the rod and float, than the newer style.

 A simple job of replacing the old-style toilet ballcock with a new toilet fill valve solved the problem.

Toilets Don't Always Flush Everything Down


poor toilet flushAs I was driving to work today, a friend called me to ask for some advice on fixing his toilet. He told me that it wasn't flushing very well and that all the waste was not going down the drain. I thought of a couple of problems: a partial blockage, a blocked vent, or a flapper problem. I asked him if he could hold the toilet handle down and not let it up. He said it was a good flush and everything went down the drain.

It sounded to me like a toilet flapper problem and that the flapper was not staying up long enough to allow enough water to flow out of the tank and into the bowl. I told him he could try to shorten the length of the chain between the flapper and the handle by 1 link. He said he tried this but that the flapper became cockeyed.

The answer is a "dial-a-flush" toilet flapper. This product allows you to control how long the flapper stays lifted off of the tank, and so you can control how much water goes into the toilet bowl, giving you a good flush. It is simply a replacement flapper with a small dial on the top of it. This flapper operates by allowing a bladder on the flapper to fill with air and, depending on the setting of the dial, allows air to escape from this bladder for a quick flush or large flush. Simply attach it, adjust the dial and flush your troubles away.


Toilet Repair Wax Ring Still Leaks


toilet wax ringA pretty handy customer called and said he had a toilet repair and that there was water leaking from between the toilet bowl and floor. This is usually indicative of the wax ring leaking.

There is a wax ring that compresses between the bottom of the toilet bowl and the drain flange that carries the waste away. The toilet bowl is held in place with some bolts that screw to a metal ring surrounding the toilet flange. If the toilet bowl moves or a bolt rusts then this seal is broken and you get all kinds of nasty stuff on your floor.

The customer said he tried to replace the wax ring but the metal ring that holds the bowl to the floor had broken, which is why he called us. The answer was a reinforcement ring.

Instead of replacing the old mounting ring, which would be a hassle, a reinforcement ring screws directly on top of the old ring and keeps the toilet in the same footprint. If you are upstairs with a wood subfloor, you can screw it into the wood joists to hold it in place. For a concrete slab, you pre-drill a hole and use a tapcon screw. Then just re-install the toilet. By the way, if you've been thinking you will replace the toilet, now would be a great time, since you already have the old one off, especially to a more efficient toilet.

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