Loud vibrational noise from toilet occurring irregularly

Discussion in 'Toilet Forum discussions' started by abster96744, Aug 22, 2013.

  1. abster96744

    abster96744 New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    San Diego CA
    Hello!

    My husband and I just bought our first condo and started our move-in this week. We've discovered an irregular loud vibrational noise coming from our toilet area.

    See the video here: http://youtu.be/hHSxg8jypG4

    I took the video during a peak yesterday when the noise was happening every five minutes during lunchtime (12:15-1:15pm). Touching the toilet in the first part of the video was unrelated to the noise stopping.

    Basically we observed the noise for about 24 hours (Tues - Wed) and it seemed to happen really sporadically. It ranged from happening from once an hour to multiple times an hour, with the peak occurring every five minutes during lunch yesterday. It doesn't happen when we flush the toilet. Doesn't seem to happen at any other kind of consistent intervals, other than maybe peak usage times in the building (lunch and after work, 6pm-10pm). I don't think the flapper is leaking. Our building manager thinks we need to replace the fill kit (via email). Last night (Wed) I turned the water off to the toilet and drained the tank. I didn't hear a peep while the toilet was drained for 12 hours from last night to this morning. The water is back on and I still haven't heard anything for the past two hours.

    Any ideas?? :)
  2. wjcandee

    wjcandee Wise One

    Messages:
    1,760
    Location:
    New York, NY
    It's haunted. Really.

    That sounds like the fill valve allowing a little bit of water through. This happens when there is a slow leak at the flapper or a siphon down the overflow tube.

    Do this: Open the lid. Turn off the water at the wall. DO NOT FLUSH IT. Instead, mark the water level with a pencil. Let it sit, say, 4 hours or more. Go back. Open the lid. Has the water level dropped? If so, there's a slow leak, most likely at the flapper, and the fill valve is turning on just a smidge to refill that water that's leaking out of the toilet. Take a picture of the toilet insides, or give us the model number or whatever, and we'll help you find a replacement flapper, which will cost you like $5 and will take ten minutes for even the least-handy person to install.

    Report back after your mission.
  3. abster96744

    abster96744 New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    San Diego CA
    I took your advice and within the hour I could see a slight drop in water level. :/ So I guess I was wrong, the flapper is leaking. I've replaced flappers before so I should be able to find the replacement, thank you! Hopefully this solves the noise problem with the slight refilling. Thanks for the tip!
  4. wjcandee

    wjcandee Wise One

    Messages:
    1,760
    Location:
    New York, NY
    Great!! Delighted to help. Two other thoughts:

    (1) Now that we know that water is leaving the tank for the bowl at a slow rate, before you go get a flapper just make sure that there isn't a siphon through the refill hose and down the overflow riser. Presumably there is a (usually black) hose from the fill valve that goes to the overflow riser, which is that tube sticking up from the bottom of the tank next to the flapper. The refill hose should not be stuck down inside that overflow riser, but rather should be mounted above it (and aimed so water goes into it) either on a metal or plastic clip or a device that centers it above the riser. The problem with just sticking it down inside the overflow riser is that if the end of the hose falls below the water level, it can actually siphon water from the tank through the fill valve and drip it down into the overflow riser. We don't see folks just shoving the hose into the riser much these days, but it does happen sometimes if they don't know better. If it's "daylighted" above the top of the overflow riser, then it can't siphon and it's a non-issue. The problem is then almost certainly your flapper.

    (2) If you haven't changed a flapper in a newer toilet, you might be surprised to find that they now come in a variety of shapes and sizes. There are 2" ones, 3" ones, funny-shaped ones, ones with floats, etc. If you don't have a Kohler, then the more generic flappers will usually work, and Korky makes a variety of flappers that fit Kohler. If you want some advice on the proper replacement, you can read us the model number from inside your toilet tank, and tell us the brand, and we can give you some options. If the flapper seemed otherwise to be working properly, you can always turn off the water and take the thing to a trusted plumbing supply place and maybe (cringe) to an Apron at a Big Box, but so often they give Lame-O advice so I would be very careful about that. We like the Korky flappers (they invented the flapper), and they also provide the same service where you can call them and tell them the model of toilet and they'll tell you which of their flappers will fit it. Nice folks in Wisconsin, where they make their products, too. www.korky.com or 1-800-LAVELLE (the parent company of Korky). You'd be amazed at how helpful they are willing to be just to sell a $5 flapper. Old-timey customer service.

    Good luck and let us know how it goes.
  5. abster96744

    abster96744 New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    San Diego CA
    You are so great, thanks so much.

    I actually just finished installing a Fluidmaster 400C fill valve and flapper. The toilet is a Sterling 404515-DB 1.6 gpf. I didn't actually talk to anyone at Ace so I'm hoping the new valve and flapper works. I did mount the hose on a clip according to the directions, but before your info I didn't know about the problems associated with the hose going down in the overflow - that's really good to know.

    Sooo, currently the tank is filled and the water is off. I'm going to make sure that the flapper at least is okay and I don't have a slow leak again. After a few hours I'll turn the water back on and I'm hoping I don't have the problem with the noise anymore. Even if there was a small leak, I would guess that the new fill valve might not be so loud? Crossing my fingers.

    I will post again tomorrow when I know how everything is working.

    I'll definitely keep Korky and the rest of your advice in mind! I've learned a lot, thanks!
  6. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,802
    Location:
    New England
    The Fluidmaster valves tend to shut off quickly, which, depending on your supply lines, can make noises. The Korky turns off slower, and that usually doesn't have that issue. In either case, if they need some repairs in the long-term, the wear part is cheap and easily replaced, so you don't need to replace the whole valve.
  7. abster96744

    abster96744 New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    San Diego CA
    Hey there guys! Thanks for all the help. Sorry I was mia, I was super excited that this may have worked so I wanted to wait and be sure. Replacing the flapper and fill valve definitely worked. Haven't had any noise all weekend!
  8. wjcandee

    wjcandee Wise One

    Messages:
    1,760
    Location:
    New York, NY
    Congratulations! You saved yourself a pile of cash, solved the annoying problem, and now you know how to take care of business in the future! It's a good feeling, isn't it?
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