View Full Version : OT - Leaky Toilet

07-15-2009, 01:19 PM
I've got a leaky toilet which two new flappers have failed to fix..
The flush valve seat appears to be in good shape, i.e. there are no scratches or cuts that I can feel in the seating surface, but evidently it's worn enough so the surface is not flat or plane. (The house (and toilet) is 18 yrs old. The valve seat is some kind of plastic or PVC.)

My friend google found this fix made by Fluidmaster, which consists of a self-stick putty ring:

Have any of you used this, or something similar? ...or know of some other good solution?

Also, can someone tell me why, as I've gotten older and find fixing problems like this attended by less joy and excitement, they never have the easy solutions they used to have? :rolleyes:

07-15-2009, 01:38 PM
Just taking a shot, but have you checked the condition and tightness of the bolts and washers that hold the tank to the bowl? They might be allowing the tank to tip enough for leakage.


07-15-2009, 01:49 PM
That's a good thought Gary. I can't detect any looseness between tank and bowl.
Right now I have the water turned off and the flapper removed, so the water level is right at the lower edge of the flush valve seat. My aim being to see if maybe water is leaking around the gasket below the seat.
I can't detect any bubbling or gurgling, or other evidence of the water leaking into the bowl. In fact that's been the case for every toilet leak I've had here the last many years. May be a function of the design of these particular toilets.

Jim Shaper
07-15-2009, 02:10 PM
When you replaced the flapper; did you get a cheapy made in china one, or did you get a pliable made in USA one?

The reason I ask, is because I replaced an old HARD one (that tends to happen to those things) and noticed that there was a distinct difference in the quality of the parts on the shelf at 2 different box stores. I forget what brand I ended up with, but it's made here and fixed my slow leaking flapper.

Bruce Griffing
07-15-2009, 02:42 PM
I assume that you have already determined that it is not leaking past the inlet valve and running out the standpipe drain. If not, I would look down that road.

07-15-2009, 02:47 PM
The first flapper I tried was the last one in "contractor pak" of 5 I'd bought at HD or Lowes. (black ones)
The second one was a Fluidmaster (red one) I'd gotten at a local plumbing supply outlet.
Yeah I agree with you Jim, about the quality. I've vowed to never buy that sort of stuff at other than a plumbing supply place ...unless it's an emergency fix. I've replaced too many ballcock valves, only to have to redo it 2 or 3 months later.

07-15-2009, 02:57 PM
I assume that you have already determined that it is not leaking past the inlet valve and running out the standpipe drain. If not, I would look down that road.

Yeah, I checked that. I pulled the little flexible tube out of the overflow pipe, and it's dry ...no leakage there.

It has a Fluidmaster ballcock assby that's pretty new, and it shuts off nice and crisply, about an inch below the overflow.

I can watch the water level in the tank slowly drop below a spot right at the waterline (filled). It'll drop about 1/8" every 2 or 3 minutes, and the valve then opens to raise the level back up to that spot.

Funny thing is, we'd made a trip out to Idaho and Montana all of last week visiting a daughter, and the problem started after the first flush when we got back. Or at least I didn't notice hearing the valve open til then, and I was in close to it hanging clothes for an hour or so.

07-15-2009, 03:20 PM
Also, can someone tell me why, as I've gotten older and find fixing problems like this attended by less joy and excitement,:rolleyes:

I was wondering that too. I think I need to get out more.

That flapper sounds like the culprit. But have you checked for a hairline crack, and also does it still leak when you hold the flapper down? Or better, use the palm of your hand or something else to seal it? And what about the bottom of the standpipe? Sometimes the metal or rubber has just a tiny bit left and the first use after awhile can do it.


07-15-2009, 03:32 PM
I'm not sure what's meant by standpipe. Is that the same as what I call the overflow pipe.

I can not see or feel any cracks.
Now, after about three hours, the water level is still right at the lower lip of the flush valve seat. That tells me that it is leaking between the flapper and the valve seat. Yeah I have tried wiggling and holding the flapper, but since theres no sound being made I can't really tell if that makes a difference.

07-15-2009, 03:32 PM
Give it up with the flapper - I replace all of it when one starts that crap. Fill valve, tank bolts, flush valve & seat - all of it. Replacing the flapper rarely does any good and if it does, it is short lived. Waterproof grease, putty - no workiee for me over the years. Now when one starts with the whining and leaking it get's stripped to the bare porcelain. :p And don't expect anything to make it through the "5 year warranty!" I keep a spare set in the house. It's all cheap stuff and about 2-3 years is the life I get. Too inexpensive to worry about saving receipts.

Mike Burdick
07-15-2009, 03:52 PM

Home Depot, Lowe's, etc. usually have a free dye packet that can be put in the tank. Food coloring will probably work as well. This might help in your analysis.


07-15-2009, 04:18 PM
My friend google found this fix made by Fluidmaster, which consists of a self-stick putty ring:

Have any of you used this, or something similar? ...or know of some other good solution?

Well I have used a number of the ones with the stainless seal seat ring on top of the putty. You will have at some point have the replace the rubber flapper valve. I have replaced a couple over the years after putting the new kit on.
It is no surprise with all the harsh chemicals in the toilet tanks for cleaning that the rubber and vinyl parts wear out.
Here is their web site it might be of help.

I think the biggest problem is that if you have a wife or other living in the home after you do something once 40 years ago they wonder what taking you so long this time!:eek: ;)

07-15-2009, 04:57 PM
by flapper, i presume you mean the inlet fill pipe that closes off with a ball cock ..

if so, the solution to your problem is to turn down the water pressure ..at the rising main ..or fit a a valve on the inlet, were you can turn the pressure down .

Too much pressure on these rubber disk washers ..even new ones will only last days ..or weeks or fail strait away.

all the best.markj

07-15-2009, 06:35 PM
No, the flapper refers to a rubber flap that's attached to the handle, by which it's lifted up from the flush valve to dump the water from the tank into the toilet bowl.

07-15-2009, 06:46 PM
I see

in the uk this valve is a loose fit in its housing ..

it merely starts off a syphon process..that ends when the tank is empty ..

the only way that it could continue leaking ..was if the syphon pipe after the top bend was split or cracked.


07-15-2009, 08:18 PM
I have worked on dozens of them over the years. Yes the Fluidmaster glue-on replacement works very well. Other remedies; for no visible reason some brands of flappers will work when others don't. The one that doesn't work on this toilet may be the best for the next one. Some take a day or two to flatten out and seal correctly so give it a little time before you give up on it.

J. Tranter
07-15-2009, 09:28 PM
You best bet would be to replace the flush valve. There is probably a small crack where the tube meets the the plastic ring that the flapper sits on.
Also do you know the manufature of the toilet? Some use diffrent flappers, I like the Korky brand myself that is what i use allday at work.
John T.

07-15-2009, 10:00 PM
And don't let anyone put the chemical stuff in your tank, blue etc.
It attacks the flapper valve, degrading it and causing it to fail.

07-15-2009, 10:27 PM
The toilet make is Gerber. When I initially put the first new flapper on I thought that fixed the prob'm, but a few hours later, after flushing it again, the leak was back.

I went ahead and installed the putty/glue-on Fluidmaster fixit kit. So far it seems to have done the trick. Maybe if it is a hairline crack that putty will seal that too.

I wasn't sure if the entire flush valve assby was a replaceable item. But I ended up breaking the nut on the handle, so had to go to Lowes for a new handle, and while there saw that they do have replacement flush valves.
Does the tank have to be removed to change that out? I would've preferred that kind of long term fix, if not too much trouble.

Oh BTW, Lowes's price on that Fluidmaster fixit kit was over a buck higher than the plumbing supply outlet price of $6.23. I wonder how many people just automatically assume they're getting the best deal at the big box stores? And that's not the first time I've found that to be the case. A few years ago I needed to replace the weather stripping around a door. HD had a complete kit for about $25. Buying it by the foot at a local lumber company cost me about $5 or $6. (I learned a lesson there!)

Re the chemical cleaners: No we never use any of that stuff in the tank, ...and rarely in the bowl either.

07-16-2009, 12:49 AM
I'd also vote for replacing all of it. Good to get fresh rubber in there so it doesn't go bad. I've also had the bolts get stuck solid in corrosion/mineral buildup and have had to drill them out.

The latest one I replaced had the new Fluidmaster "Leak Sentry" device, which seemed pretty clever. I can't remember exactly, but I think it was that the fill valve can only open when the handle is pulled. So in the case where there is a leak, I believe it would stop re-re-refilling the tank to infinitely waste however much leaks out until it's fixed.

The way it works is that there's a lever arm (under the doughnut shaped float) that is connected to the flush chain. When the chain is not being pulled, and when the float wants to fall, a very sharp point digs into the overflow tube and wedges the lever arm against the float, which prevents if from lowering and opening the fill valve.
Hmm... if the owner or "user" doesn't notice this, then I wonder if it could eventually dig a hole into the overflow tube, making the leak much worse.


P.S. To replace just the flush valve, you don't have to take off the top tank.

07-16-2009, 03:07 AM
Hmm. I guess I have to ask- does the flapper sit level on the seat, or is it cockeyed a bit? A height adjustment might be needed where the flapper mount goes. Also a dum question, is there some slack in the chain once the flapper is seated? Well, you never know- sometimes it's easy to overlook the obvious.

07-16-2009, 12:21 PM
Well I should've known the intial success was too good to last.
This morning it's acting up again. Tho it may just be a matter of adjustments - chain length/slack, etc. So I'll tinker with it some and if/when I give up on that I'll replace the flush valve seat.

I'll look for that Fluidmaster "Leak Sentry" too. That sounds promising just as a precaution. It doesn't take much to drive up a water bill outrageously, especially if the first month's increase is not quite enough to raise a flag. Then the 2nd month's bill grabs your attention too late.

Darryl, this flapper valve seat is on a slant (relative to the tank bottom). That forced me to install the 'fixit' flapper assembly sort of cockeyed to avoid bumping the overflow tube when flapper is lifted. Which in turn required a kind of offset in the chain linkage, which (I hope) is the correctable (I hope) cause of this mornings malfunctions.

As for the flapper mount, it's a molded part of the overflow tube and non-adjustable. But in the 18 yrs since I bought the house (new), I've replace flappers probably 6 or 7 times and that's always stopped the leak without further grief.

J. Tranter
07-16-2009, 04:06 PM
To replace the flush valve you need to take the tank off there are two bolts and nuts replace those when you take them off. On the flush valve there is a big plastic nut loosen that(it is under the tank) and pull the flush valve out amd replace.

Also ckeck to make sure the tube that comes out of the ballcock an goes in to the top of the flush valve is above water level, it will siphon water out of the tank and make it look like you have a leak.
I'm a plumber by trade and I see this all the time.

John T.