Ballcock assembly shuts off water then it starts again ???

Discussion in 'Toilet Forum discussions' started by John H. Power, May 9, 2012.

  1. John H. Power

    John H. Power New Member

    Messages:
    8
    Location:
    Vero Beach, FL
    I have an older style toilet. It has the overflow tube in the middle of the tank and the ballcock assembly to the left as you look at it. It was constantly running and in order to stop it temporarily I had to physically lift the rod that holds the bulb.

    I figured there was a problem with the entire ballcock assembly so I replaced it yesterday. Now when I flush the toilet the tank fills and the ballcock unit shuts off. However, after 5 minutes or so a slight "hiss" type sound starts and in order to get it to stop I have to physically lift the floater rod. When I let it go the sound starts again.

    Am I getting a slow leak around the flapper assembly? It would seem to me that the reason this would happen is that water was slowly leaking out which makes the floater assembly drop which in turn would trigger the fill water to start flowing again, however slowly.

    However, if that was the case why wouldn't the tank fill back up to compensate and then stop the "hissing" sound at least temporarily?

    Thanks

    Note: As a followup, after I posted this thread I turned the water supply off and the tank is slowly losing water. Obviously I have a slow leak which would mean something is not sealing properly. Should I start with a flapper replacement and can you do that without replacing the entire overflow tube assembly?
    Last edited: May 9, 2012
  2. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    You have already diagnosed your classic problem. Water leaks out through flapper...ballcock turns on to fill back up the tank.

    old school ball cocks ( ball on the end of a rod)_ are prone to hissing.
  3. John H. Power

    John H. Power New Member

    Messages:
    8
    Location:
    Vero Beach, FL
    Thanks for the quick reply. Will I be able to replace just the flapper itself? I saw replacements in Lowes.

    Incidentally I am a lawyer in this life. In my next one I want to be a plumber. Sometimes no matter how hard we try we still lose. At least you guys get to take something that is broke and make it work again after your efforts.
  4. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,110
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    That's the beauty of the job. Taking something that isn't right, and making it better. Or in new construction, installing the pipe and fittings, much like the Lincoln logs and erector sets we played with as kids.

    You can replace the flapper and that should fix it. Also, make sure that the fill tube from the fill valve (ball cock) is above the overflow tube. If it's too far down the tube it can siphon water from the tank.
    Toilets after 1992 use 1.6 gallons or less
    From the mid 80's to 92 would be 3.5 gallons and before that 5.0 or more.
    Make sure you pick up the right flapper for the age of your bowl. Some will adjust.
  5. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,797
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    If you replaced the old valve with a new one with a "floater ball", then it hisses because it is refilling the tank at the same rate of flow as the water is leaking out. THe valves without a float ball, WILL refill, shut off, and then restart when the water level drops to a certain level. My daughter was dating a lawyer in training once, and I saved up all my lawyer jokes for when he came by, (actually there is only ONE lawyer joke, the rest of them are all true, LOL). He did not have a very tolerant level for them, which made it all the more interesting.
  6. wjcandee

    wjcandee Wise One

    Messages:
    1,891
    Location:
    New York, NY
    Advice from a lawyer...

    Thanks to this amazing forum, this lawyer just installed two Toto Drakes himself, fixed problems I could identify in the previous installations, and then, for fun, rehabbed an old water-hog toilet that had great china, and flushed well, but, with end-of-life guts, took forever to fill, swished a bunch, and leaked on and off.

    You can probably get away with just replacing the flapper like Terry says, but if you have a ratchet set, a pair of 12" channel locks, and lots of rags, then I can heartily recommend a fun project that will make you feel like an apprentice plumber, without actually having to do any real plumbing, and give you a like-new toilet that you can be proud of. I suggest you get the Korky Universal Toilet Repair Kit part number 4010pk, which you can get at Lowe's for under $20 and about $22 at your local hardware store. If you want to be a plumber, this project will take you under two hours and give you a great deal of satisfaction. Having just used the Korky kit this past week, I can recommend it for a few important reasons (Lowe's will also have Flushmaster and a generic brand, but get the Korky). First, the directions are amazing. Every step is detailed in plain English and illustrated. They assume you know nothing, which was great for me, because I did know nothing. Second, everything is in the kit: new flush valve, new fill valve, connecting bolts and red washers for your tank, a new red gasket for the flush valve nut, hose, clip, everything (except a new supply line, which I also recommend you get if you don't have a flexible hose one already [edit: the reason for this, as I found out, is that if you have a metal pipe-let kind of thing that the plumber put in, chances are it won't easily reconnect to the tank once you remount it; the flexible hose will give you a nice drip-free connection, and Lowe's has a universal one that should fit all common size wall connections; it uses a little adapter thingy, so you don't have to guess what size hose connection you need). Third: the quality of the Korky parts. This is the company that makes the guts for the Toto toilets, and the design and quality is outstanding. And it just all looks good in the tank.

    This is a messy project: the nuts on the tank won't want to come off (hence the ratchet set) and the nut on the flush valve won't either (hence the 12" channel locks). But with those tools, it's easy. It's messy because the "clean" water tank will have accumulated nasty black gunk in it. Have a plastic bag handy to just toss all the old stuff in. And some Bounty and a sponge to clean the inside of the old tank. When you finally get everything replaced and the tank reinstalled, and the thing flushes perfectly and shuts off with authority, you will be amazed that it's the same unit you were using an hour ago. And you will be proud as punch. I just had a great time doing it, and started poking my head in other toilets in the house to see if their guts were working properly (which they were, sadly).

    I completely defer to Terry or any real plumbers on here, but if you're up to it, I have to say it's a great project.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 14, 2012
  7. wjcandee

    wjcandee Wise One

    Messages:
    1,891
    Location:
    New York, NY
    Regarding the lawyer-joke post and the observations about the apprentice-lawyer-daughter-dater:

    Years ago, when I was practicing law in Dallas, Texas, the law firm I worked for decided that it wanted to put money and/or time into helping the Dallas Zoo, which was then making a lot of improvements. They sent me to meet with the folks there, and those folks told me two things that stood out in my mind: (1) They had a very successful adopt-an-animal program, but people mostly wanted to adopt animals like lions, tigers and bears, and not the scalier critters; (2) they had a world-class reptile program that scientists from around the world came to participate in, but it was in need of financial help.

    Reptiles? You mean like snakes? Nobody wants to adopt the snakes? It was just too good to resist. We ended up adopting all the snakes at the Dallas Zoo, then letting people readopt them in the name of their favorite lawyer. This massively-helped the world-class reptile program.

    The zoo got crazy publicity from this. I literally spent every morning for two weeks on the phone for two hours playing straight man to a parade of morning-show guys from around the country who couldn't resist asking the lawyer about why his firm adopted the snakes. I learned that even if I knew the joke, just to be the straight guy and let the guy with some real talent do the heavy comedic lifting.

    What was most interesting to me about the whole thing was that, consistent with your point, a lot of lawyers were NOT AMUSED. Letters were written to publications and officials saying that we were demeaning the profession. I got to publicly respond that we were helping a worthy cause just by poking a little fun at ourselves, and plenty of people in the profession agreed. But it was kind of bracing that so many actually revealed themselves to be the kind of humorless stick-in-the-muds that we're always accused of being. Ick. In the end, it was all good, but geez.

    There's a book called "Skid Marks", which is a collection of lawyer jokes. Apparently, every radio morning man I talked to had read it, because I didn't hear a joke that wasn't in there. The title is the punch line of one of my favorites: "What's the difference between a dead lawyer and a dead snake in the middle of the road?" "Skid marks." Or, in a variation for the less subtle among us, "Skid marks in front of the snake."
  8. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,797
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    I guess another book could be "1,001 Uses for Dead Lawyers", one being they make good lane markers in construction zones.
  9. wjcandee

    wjcandee Wise One

    Messages:
    1,891
    Location:
    New York, NY
    See, I think that's pretty funny...if a tad harsh.
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