Defective Bowl? on Toto Drake II

Discussion in 'Toilet Forum discussions' started by cit1981, Mar 25, 2014.

  1. cit1981

    cit1981 New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Calif
    Based on all the great information at this site, I recently installed two Toto Drake II toilets for my mother. The first one installed fine and works great. Mom loves it! The first one was installed at my brother's house where my Mom stays part of the time. Mom liked that one so much we installed a second one at my Mom's house.

    With the second one, I have a problem where after every flush, I hear a dripping noise from within the base of the toilet. The dripping noise goes on for about 15 minutes and stops. At that point, the water spot in the bowl has lowered maybe 1/4" to 1/2" and is noticeably smaller.

    I called Toto customer support and they said I need to pull the toilet and check it (put it on 2x4's, add water and see if the level goes down). It could either be a defective bowl or back siphonage. Now it's easy for the support guy to tell me to do that, but it's a pain and expensive. The cost to have a plumber come in to remove the toilet, take it outside from a second story, check it, and re-install it is going to be more than the cost of the toilet! Worse, if it is a defective bowl, then I need to do something in the interim because Mom can't go without a toilet while I wait to receive a replacement from Toto.

    The second toilet was purchased online as I checked the local suppliers and they were all much more expensive and they were all special orders which had to be shipped anyway. I was wary of purchasing online as I was concerned about damage during shipping, but based on the good reviews went ahead. I did carefully check the toilet after unpacking using high-power reading glasses to check closely for fine cracks and such. Didn't see any.

    The Toto support tech says that 9 times out of 10, the problem is with back siphonage in my plumbing system. One out of ten, it's a defective bowl which you can't see from the outside of the toilet. I googled back siphonage and don't really see how it could be an issue with my dwv system, but I'm not a plumber.

    Given I had no problems with the old toilets in the house before I installed the Toto, how likely do you think it's a back siphonage problem? How likely do you think it's a defective bowl? Anything else I should check before I'm stuck going to the expense and hassle of pulling the toilet. If somebody local had the Totos in stock which I could buy with the ability to return if not needed, that would make the process a whole lot easier, but that doesn't seem to be an option.

    Would appreciate any and all suggestions.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 26, 2014
  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,947
    Location:
    New England
    A toilet bowl is sort of like a tea kettle...think of the outlet as the spout. It is designed to end up full when the refill is finished. It can take a minute or two for the level to stabilize at the end, but normally wouldn't continue for 15-minutes. One thing that can make it drain is if it is really windy outside. The air moving in the vent system can cause the water to rock back and forth in the bowl, and each time it rocks towards the outlet, a little bit of water goes out. It would take a really poorly designed drainage/vent system to siphon a bowl. Other than a defect, about the only other thing I can think of that can cause the bowl to lose some water relatively quickly is if someone had flushed something like dental floss, and it got partly caught..it can wick some water along that string...kind of a rare occurrence, but it can happen - it usually just goes down (BTW, don't flush that sort of stuff in the first place!).

    If the floor is not level, that can cause the bowl level to be different from one install to the other, and then small production differences can cause it to be slightly different, but Toto has some pretty tight quality control.

    If the toilet does have an internal defect/leak, if it is not leaking onto the floor, you can continue to use it until you get a replacement.

    Make sure that the flapper valve is properly seated...if it has too much slack in the chain, or the arm pulls it sideways too far, it may be falling and barely covering the flush valve opening. If that's the case, it could just be leaking there until it eventually seats properly. If that were the case, the fill valve would also likely keep running for a bit.

    Also, make sure that the level in the tank is proper - it's normally about 1/2" from the top of the overflow tube. If some crud got caught in the fill valve with the initial installation, the fill valve may not be fully closing all of the time, and the level may rise, and that also puts water into the bowl, which would be overflowing and trickle out.

    If the toilet flushes well, while maybe an annoyance, it's not a big problem.

    FWIW, it's not all that hard to pull and reset a toilet for most people. You would need a new wax ring, but those are only a few dollars. Terry has the instructions here, and you probably have the tools already. The only reason for a simple pull/reinstall for a plumber is if you can't lift the thing yourself, or do not want to take the time. It's a little more complicated (but not much) to assemble the toilet tank to the bowl, but it is only two bolts.

    So, there are multiple reasons why it might be doing what you're seeing...some are easy to fix with an adjustment, some could require replacement bits.
  3. Wallijonn

    Wallijonn Member

    Messages:
    136
    Location:
    Arizona
    I'd start at the flush valve. After flushing and verifying that the toilet drips, push down on the 3" valve and see if it stops (a chop stick or wooden paint stirrer will probably be better than jamming your fist into the water tank as it will displace water. Make sure the water level between the fill valve and the fill stack is correct.) . Typically, as the years go buy the float valve gets gunk on it and let's water seep through. So you take a rag to it and wipe all the muck away. Or it could be as simple as the flush valve closing down on a chain link. Next up would be the fill valve. To really check it it would probably be best to swap it with another. Or you could take it apart and see if some o-ring is "crimped" at one end or place. http://www.terrylove.com/forums/showthread.php?48198-Replacement-for-Toto-GMax-fill-valve-type-A Probably best to flush, let it fill up, remove the fill valve black hose from the stack (refill tube), put the hose into a cup and see if it continues to fill up. Take note of the water level within the tank, maybe mark it gently with a pencil. If it goes down then the leak is probably at the flush valve, may there's a crack right at where the flush valve meets the refill tube.

    I'm sure Terry will come along and give you the straight scoop and tell you the correct isolation procedure.
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2014
  4. Reach4

    Reach4 Active Member

    Messages:
    2,139
    Location:
    IL
    What happens if a half hour later with no fixtures in use, you gently add water to bring that water level up by 1/4"? Do you get a dripping sound and the water goes back to its lower level, or does the water level quietly stay up at that point?
  5. cit1981

    cit1981 New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Calif
    Thanks to everybody for the suggestions. I think it's unlikely that it is anything to do with the tank. If it was the flapper/flush valve, I don't think the water level in the bowl would drop, it would stay the same (extra water would come into the bowl and drip out). The water level in the tank looks right, about a 1" below the overflow tube. It's not the wind as it happens consistently after every flush.

    Yes, if I take a cup and add a little water to the bowl after the dripping has stopped, the dripping starts back up again.

    So if nobody seems to feel back siphonage is the problem, then I'm pretty sure it has to be the bowl.
  6. wjcandee

    wjcandee Wise One

    Messages:
    1,830
    Location:
    New York, NY
    Where is the water level in the bowl vis a vis the other one you have?

    It could be that it's just overfilling a bit and then draining down to its natural level, and you're hearing it because of the way things are plumbed after your closet flange (e.g. long drop to floor below, etc., different kind of pipe, whatever). Or it could be that it's not level, and because the bowl is tipped, raising the front of the bowl a bit and lowering the position of the weir, there might be some drainage out the back of the bowl. A little off-level shouldn't make a difference, but a big tip would. In that case, the level in this bowl would be lower than in the other one.

    If the bowl drains down to the level that the other bowl reaches naturally, then it's just overfilling a smidge.
  7. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,939
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    I concur.
    If the floor is lower at the back, the water level will be lower in the bowl.
    Also, the new CUFG bowls hold a little less water volumn than the previous CEFG bowls.
  8. Wallijonn

    Wallijonn Member

    Messages:
    136
    Location:
    Arizona
    Swap the tanks between the two (instead of swapping the fill and flush valves). That should isolate it to either the tank or the bowl.
  9. Reach4

    Reach4 Active Member

    Messages:
    2,139
    Location:
    IL
    Here is an idea for a test for back siphonage: Get a piece of tubing at least 2 feet long and preferably a little longer. Mark a spot a foot from the end. Push it into the water spot until the mark is at the water line. That should put the tip well out of the water. Blow ( do not inhale) briskly to clear the tube of any water. The tubing could be a piece of an old garden hose. Do not do this if you have hiccups. :)

    Again, gently pour your water to fill the bowl to the level that the other toilet maintains. See if the water level stays higher this time.

    The point is to break any suction that might be pulling water out of the bowl. This should be similar to raising the toilet on 2x4s for purposes of the test.

    Another test would be to extinguish a match near the tube opening. If the smoke gets significantly drawn inside, that would be interesting.
  10. cit1981

    cit1981 New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Calif
    Thanks again to everybody and Terry! Reach4, very smart advice on how to test for back siphonage. I don't know that I have old garden hose, but I'm sure I can pick up some plastic tubing at a hardware store on the cheap.

    I understand the water spot in the new CUFG bowls is smaller than the older CEFG bowls (Toto gave me the exact dimensions), but both Toto's I installed use the new CUFG bowl.

    I can't easily swap tanks. The toilets are a 100 miles apart (two different homes).

    I agree that it could be that the bowl is overfilling a little bit or the toilet is not level (I did have to shim it to not rock), but it seems strange that if it's overfilling or if I add water, it doesn't instantaneously just drain over the weir to find it's natural level. I can't check on the other Toto right now, but when I check the other (non-Toto) toilet at my Mom's house by adding water from a cup, it maintains the water level without dripping. That seems to be my experience with other toilets (which you naturally overfill every time you empty your bladder).

    I understand it could be just the way this specific Toto was made with a dip or imperfection at the weir, allowing water to slowly seep across, but it seems like (if it's not back siphonage), it could also be a small crack or defect (which is what Toto support said) and what would that mean over the long term (20 years?).

    So I will check for back siphonage and then replace the bowl. This time I will check the bowl on 2x4's before installing it. It will be interesting to see how the second one performs. It will take me a couple of weeks as I'm going out of town, but I'll post the result to let everybody know.
  11. cit1981

    cit1981 New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Calif
    I just wanted to provide a quick update. I checked the first toilet that I installed at my brother's house. I verified that it was the same new CUFG bowl (and not the older CEFG bowl) as I still had the box it came in. The water level was definitely higher and the size of the water spot bigger compared to the toilet at my mother's house which was having the problem with the dripping noise.

    The online retailer provided excellent customer service and shipped me out a new toilet without charge. This time I set up the new bowl outside on 2x4's, checked it with a level and filled the bowl with water. It did the same thing. It would take about 10-15 minutes of dripping for the water level in the bowl to stabilize. So I guess that's just the way the design of the bowl works. I called Toto and they said the size of the water spot is supposed to be 6" x 8" and the water level down 5.5" from the rim. That is what both toilets (the currently installed one and the replacement one) seem to be at. I guess the current toilet at my mother's is being slightly overfilled and then it takes the 15 minutes of dripping for the water level to stabilize.

    As far as the toilet at my brother's, it must be the odd one. Maybe it was manufactured slightly differently or maybe is not completely level (tilted slightly to the front?) causing the water spot to be bigger.

    Anyway, my concern was that the second toilet might be defective internally (as the first Toto rep indicated was a possibility) so I can live with the smaller size water spot and the dripping noise (though I would certainly prefer if it worked like the one at my brother's).

    Thanks again to everybody for all the help and excellent suggestions. You guys are fabulous!
  12. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,947
    Location:
    New England
    Glad this worked out...my experience with Toto has been good over the years of ownership (my oldest one is 14-years old). As with anything made with clay, there can be slight differences, and the bowl IS sort of like a teapot, with the spout pointing to the rear. Raise the rear end, and you can put more water into it...doesn't take much. As long as they work well, differences like that would be unlikely to be noticed unless you had intimate knowledge of both. Toto's manufacturing of porcelain pieces is highly automated and they use a much drier clay than (all?) others...this helps to control the shrinkage that occurs during the drying, then firing stages of construction. As I understand it, their process is more like an injection molding process than what you may have done in art class, where you poured liquid clay into a mold, waited a bit, the poured out what was still liquid. The extra amount of moisture means more shrinkage, and since clay is a natural product, you get more variations than when it is drier to start with. One reason why Toto toilets are much more consistent than most.
  13. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,939
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    A lot has to be with how level the floor is.
    The trapway is like a dam at the back, tilting the bowl from front to back changes water level.
    TOTO can't guarantee that you have a flat and level home where you live.

    I have less than 1% returns on TOTO. Less than that really.

    Yesterday I installed an American Standard Americast tub. The floor was out of level 1/2" in four feet.
    It wasn't a tub issue. It was a crooked floor issue. I installed the stringer on the back wall at level, dropped the tub in and shimmed the lower end on the apron. The tile setter will finish by putting his mix under the tub apron and it will be a nicely set, and level installation, even though the rest of the home is out of whack.

    The homeowner mentioned that the old tub was way out of level. Ya think?

    [​IMG]

    Remove old tub

    [​IMG]

    The floor is out of level by 1/4" in four feet.

    [​IMG]

    The corner of the steel tub had rusted away.

    [​IMG]

    A new tub properly shimmed and level. Also, a new Moen Posi-Temp pressure balanced tub shower valve.
    A new solvent weld ABS tub waste and overflow.
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2014
  14. Wallijonn

    Wallijonn Member

    Messages:
    136
    Location:
    Arizona
    I go by the water mark on the fill valve. (Type "B" fill valve.) On my Drake 1.6g the fill valve has a rectangular notch on it and the water line lines up exactly at the top of the notch. You may have a Type "A" or type "C" so you will need to look for the water mark line on the tank inner wall. See page 6 of your manual. You'll want to fill it to that line and no higher nor lower, regardless of where the water mark lands on the overflow tube. Then you make sure the fill tube hose ends above that water line outside the tube. If you have a type "A" valve, look at the illustration on page 6 of the manual... The water line should just touch the underside of the fill valve "lip". Illustration III.1.
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2014
  15. cit1981

    cit1981 New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Calif
    I have a type "C" fill valve. But, I don't see any water level setting marked on the inner wall of my tank. I looked pretty carefully and with a flashlight. Didn't see any markings.
    Even more confusing, illustration III.I on page 6 of my manual seems to show the water level setting is referenced from the top of the overflow tube.

    Anyway, it all seems to be working well enough so I think I will leave well enough alone and move on to other projects.
  16. wjcandee

    wjcandee Wise One

    Messages:
    1,830
    Location:
    New York, NY
    Toto prints on the tank that the water level should be X distance below the top of the overflow tube.

    On a type B fill valve (Korky 528), the water level is shown on the fill valve because that's where it will stop, not because that's where it should be in the tank. You raise or lower the upper portion of the Type B valve to adjust the level of water in the tank. The water level at which the valve shuts off is always at the same place on the valve head, but you move the valve head's height (and thus the height of that line) to raise or lower the water level in the tank.

    Regardless, it sounds like both posters have toilets that work, so nothing to adjust at this time.
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