Plumbing: Toilet Tank Problems

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Toilet Tank

When you flush a toilet, a carefully balanced series of events takes place in the tank. As you push the flush handle, the tank-stopper ball is lifted from its valve seat, allowing water to flow from the tank into the bowl. When the tank is nearly empty, the tank ball falls back into the valve seat, cutting off the flow.

As the tank’s water level falls, so does the float, opening up the supply, or ballcock, valve just as the tank ball seals the tank. The tank then refills through the tank fill tube, and the bowl and trap refill from the bowl fill tube directing water down the overflow tube. As the float rises, it shuts off the ballcock valve and the toilet is ready for action once again. When any part of this balancing act is out of whack, you’ll need to make one of the repairs shown in the chart below.

If your toilet tank or bowl develops a leak, check all pipes and connections. If a pipe or tube is corroded or the tank or bowl is cracked, replace it. If the leak appears near a joint, clean away any corrosion, replace any gaskets or washers and tighten the connection. Be careful when tightening bolts and nuts mounted to porcelain -- the porcelain may crack and ruin the toilet.

Toilet Tank Troubleshooting

Problem: Solution

Water runs continuously: Adjust lift wires or chain to align tank ball. Clean valve seat.

Water runs after flushing: Bend the float arm. Clean the valve seat. If the float is waterlogged, replace it. Replace tank.

Whistling sounds occur: Put new washers in the ballcock-valve plunger. Replace ballcock assembly.

Splashing sounds are heard: Reposition the refill tube to eject directly into overflow tube. Put new washers in the ballcock-valve assembly.

Tank flushes partially: Shorten the lift wires or chain to make the tank ball rise higher. Bend the float arm upward to raise the water level.

Tank sweats: Insulate the tank by lining it with sheets of polystyrene or foam rubber. Have plumber install tempering valve to warm the water in the tank.

Tank leaks: Tighten connections to the water-supply line. Check gaskets and washers around discharge pipe and mounting bolts to the bowl.

Toilet leaks at base: Tighten bolts at base of bowl. Disconnect the toilet from the floor and replace the wax seal under the bowl.

Quick Fixes:

Most toilet tank problems are simple to repair with minor adjustments or cleaning. Here are some common adjustments for standard (not low-flush) toilets:

Adjust the float arm

Adjust the float arm. If the float still floats (it's not waterlogged), make the water rise higher or lower in the tank by bending the float arm at its center. If arm won’t bend under hand pres sure, grip it with a pair of pliers on either side of center. Flush the toilet to test your adjustment.

Check the tank ball alignment Check the tank ball alignment. Shut off the water supply to the tank and look inside it as you flush to watch the tank ball drop. If it doesn't fall straight into the valve seat, loosen the setscrew on the guide arm, and reposition the arm so the tank ball is directly above the valve seat. Tighten setscrew, refill the tank and flush to test.
Clean the valve seat

Clean the valve seat. When the tank ball seats properly and water still escapes, mineral deposit buildup on the tank ball and valve seat may create a poor seal. Completely empty the tank, remove the tank ball and clean the ball with warm water and detergent. Gently scour the rim of the valve seat using fine steel wool.


Special Advertising Section

If you're going to invest in a new tank or related equipment, we highly recommend these products:

Cadet Toilet Tank With Right Hand Tank Lever, White

Cadet Toilet Tank With Right Hand Tank Lever, White

A timeless look you'd expect to find at an academy. It reflects a tradition of practicality and function. No bells. No whistles. Just very soft lines and rounded curves. A classic style befitting any bathroom.

Wellworth  toilet tank with Insuliner  tank liner, Biscuit

Wellworth toilet tank with Insuliner tank liner, Biscuit

Wellworth toilets have been an American benchmark for innovation and performance for over 65 years. This toilet tank features Insuliner tank liner to prevent condensation, and is available in a palette of KOHLER colors to complement any d cor.

Tank Mate Automatic Toilet Bowl Cleaner - 3 Refills

Tank Mate is the revolutionary new way to keep your toilet clean and sparkling, while keeping your bathroom smelling as fresh as can be. With every flush, Tank Mate safely cleans the toilet bowl, repelling stains without chlorine or other harsh chemicals – it’s completely safe for all toilet components, septic systems, children or pets. With an adjustable dial, you control the amount of cleaning and freshness power Tank Mate discharges, and with its simple installation, you’ll have the system hooked up and running with just two easy connections. No plumber required! Tank Mate is delightful, dependable, and built to last. Available with one refill package (Blue Mist), or three (Blue Mist, Lavender Garden, Powder Fresh). Please see drop down menu for more information.This item ships directly from the manufacturer. It usually ships within 1-3 business days and arrives within 2-8 business days depending on destination.

Portrait  Toilet Tank, Mexican Sand

Portrait Toilet Tank, Mexican Sand

This Portrait toilet tank offers performance-enhanced flushing and a charming, traditional style that integrates with the Portrait Suite to carry the understated elegance of French Provincial throughout the room. The tank combines with the K-4317 Portrait elongated toilet bowl, and is available in a palette of KOHLER colors and Artist Editions designs to complement any d cor.

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Recommended Reading

Composting Toilet System Book: A Practical Guide to Choosing, Planning and Maintaining Composting Toilet Systems

Composting Toilet System Book: A Practical Guide to Choosing, Planning and Maintaining Composting Toilet Systems

Book Description

by David Del Porto, Carol Steinfeld

This book is intended to educate you the consumer, on all aspects of drain-cleaning, and maintenance, you can do your self. It will describe to you in detail everything from preventative maintenance to unplugging your own drains using a hand snake or electric snake.

Topics include:

toilet system book, composting toilet systems, urine composter, composted human excrement, solar pasteurizer, composted human waste, drying toilets, urine diversion, batch composter, toilet chute, central wastewater treatment plants, ecological sanitation, graywater system, composting microbes, leachate drains, evapotranspiration beds, excess leachate, septage hauler, composting reactor, squat plates, soil absorption system, toilet stool, composting mass, composting organisms, composting toilets


The Definitive Composting Toilet Book
Del Porto's book is the definitive composting toilet book at this time. There is nothing even close. His book covers all aspects of composting toilet systems and touches on graywater issues as well. He treats the composting toilet as part of the home system. If a person is seriously interested in installing/having a composting toilet, this guide can save him/her all of the mistakes people usually make. He even (carefully) explodes some of the advertising myths that the purveyors of composting toilets would have us believe. The book covers ready-made systems as well as home built sytems. As trite as this sounds, the book truly is a must for someone considering intstalling composting toilet.

The best book out there
I would venture that the authors have forgotten more about toilets than most of the rest of us will ever know. There is no possible toilet configuration that does not receive at least cursory discussion. I only have 2 complaints about the book, both of them minor. First there were a couple of systems that I felt were described incompletely and critiqued a bit unfairly. Second, much of the book seemed to be a compilation of other writings without a lot of editing. Consequently there is significant repetition, and a presentation of information that's sometimes slightly disorganized and confusing. I definitely think that the book is worth reading.

Most complete and credible book on the topic
After reading a couple of books about composting toilets and graywater systems that were either suspiciously poetic or a little too humorous, I was happy to find this guide. As someone who needs a variety of systems for a variety of high-use sites, I was glad to find a book that deals with this topic in technically and responsibly (in terms of public health). I showed this guide to my local health agent, and he was far more amenable to permiting an "experimental system" afterwards, saving me a lot of money. Also, after experimenting with various systems over the years, I am aware that some systems still described in books and magazines just don't work well. The authors of this guide have apparently had the same experience, and I appreciate their researching this so completely.

Impressive, comprehensive, reader friendly, practical.,
The Composting Toilet System Book is an impressive, comprehensive, reader friendly, and practical guide to choosing, planning and maintaining composting toilet systems for those seeking an alternative to traditional sewer and septic tank systems. David Del Porto and Carol Steinfeld collaborate to explain the technologies, sources, applications, graywater issues, and regulations relevant to a composting toilet system for the home, whether manufactured or site-built. Highly recommended.

This is a great book to read while your sitting on the pot.
This book was well worth the wait. Whether you want to buy a system, or build one, if it's not covered in this guide, then chances are it doesn't exist. It covers wet and dry toilets, self-contained composters and also cental units. What I like about this guide is that it discusses the pros and cons of each type of design in a very straight forward manner. The authors did a very nice job on this guide. If you ever plan on, or are even thinking about a compost toilet system, buy this one now. I leave my copy on my coffee table for guests, it always stirs up a conversation. No sh_t....

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Last modified: Friday, 2020-05-01 10:54 PST