Should I EXPECT fill valve to leak a little?

Discussion in 'Toilet Forum discussions' started by otherchuck, Dec 27, 2009.

  1. otherchuck

    otherchuck New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    southern california
    Hi gang,

    I had to replace my Fluidmaster toilet fill valve because it was continually leaking a little, but this didn't surprise me because I'd had it for about a decade. I replaced it with another Fluidmaster fill valve (W43LS), and right away I could see that it wasn't shutting off properly; I adjusted the mechanism on top of the valve a few times...so at least occasionally I wouldn't hear it leaking...but it continued to leak.

    So I decided to bail on Fluidmaster and try a FillPro FV85A. I like the ease of installation of the FillPro, but guess what? It still leaks! Not as fast as the Fluidmaster (it may take a day to raise the level in the tank 1.5 or 2 inches), but no doubt about it...it continually fills. If I flushed this toilet even 2 or 3 times a day, I'd never notice it (the FillPro is very quiet), but this toilet is in an auxilliary room, and may go several days without being flushed.

    I cannot believe I did anything wrong as part of the installation process. I am wondering if perhaps I should EXPECT some slow leakage, or should I expect a toilet valve to totally shut off when the tank is filled to the desired level? I presume most toilets get flushed several times a day, thus slowly leaking fill valves may be the norm.

    Can anyone recommend a toilet fill valve that totally shuts off if such a product exists?

    Another theory I have...before I replace my current FillPro valve...is that perhaps the fill valve may leak a bit for the first week, or 20 flushes or something, before it settles/adjusts itself into some kind of position that will enable it to shut off completely thereafter.

    Thanks for any advice! Replacing a toilet fill valve should be the easiest home repair job in the world, and I am very frustrated that this project has dominated so much of my life recently.

    Chuck
  2. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,130
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    If the tank is refilling, you may be losing water from the tank into the bowl.
    Maybe a new flapper is needed.
  3. otherchuck

    otherchuck New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    southern california
    I just installed a brand new flapper (Fluidmaster 507A) at the same time that I replaced the toilet fill valve.

    If the flapper were defective, I can see how water would leave the tank into the bowl, and the level in the tank would sink to the point that the tank would have to refill itself to the appropriate level occasionally, but that doesn't seem to be what is happening here. I see the water level slowly rising in the tank; if I let it go long enough, the "waterline" in the tank would eventually rise high enough so that the water starts going down the flush valve.

    I guess a worst case scenario would be one where the flush valve leaked water into the tank at the same rate that a defective flapper released water into the bowl, because then I guess one might not know that there was a problem because the waterline in the tank would stay the same...right? Or am I misundertanding something about the mechanics of toilets?

    I will check to make sure no water is seeping into the bowl (it doesn't seem to be...but I will keep my eye on it)

    Thanks!

    Chuck
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 28, 2009
  4. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,153
    Location:
    New England
    I think the others missed that the level was rising, not falling...

    You might want to check your water pressure. Excessive water pressure might cause this, but would have to be fairly high. If you have a PRV, but have a failing expansion tank, the pressure would rise. If it got too high, it would trip the T&P valve on the water heater.

    Stop by a big box store or a plumbing supply house and pick up a pressure gauge. They cost around $10.
  5. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,360
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    If you have a thermal expansion tank, check to make sure it is not full of water. Just rap on the tank and listen.
  6. otherchuck

    otherchuck New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    southern california
    Yes, I wondered about water pressure, but I really doubt it would be particularly high. Where we live, we are on a well system (not a municipal supply) and we have a booster pump that pumps the water into the house. The pump is set to repressurize when the pressure is 50psi and it stops repressurizing at 70 psi. Plus the toilet in question is on the third floor of the house so I imagine the pressure would be lower at that distance from the pump. I don't know what a T&P valve is, but I don't believe such a thing has ever tripped on our water heater. I will buy pressure gauge however, just to have one on hand.

    Chuck
  7. Doherty Plumbing

    Doherty Plumbing Journeyman & Gas Fitter

    Messages:
    810
    Location:
    Penticton, BC
    You probably have debris/settlement in the water that is gumming up the fill valves. There really is no reason why 2 new fill valves would fail.

    Being on a pump system I really doubt it's your pressure. 70 psi is not enough to cause a fill valve to fail.
  8. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,153
    Location:
    New England
    With your well system, you probably have a check valve in the system. Depending on where your check valve is, and the relation to the storage bladder tank, you may need to add an expansion tank for the water heater. If the check valve is in a position where there is no storage tank after it, then thermal expansion can raise the pressure after a long draw on the WH, when that dense cold water gets heated, expanding against the checkvalve and raising the pressure. A toilet fill valve is likely the first thing to leak. If it didn't the T&P (temperature and pressure) relief valve on the water heater would trip to dump the excess pressure. A gauge will tell.

    It could also be excessive dirt in the water fouling the seals. Do you have any galvanized piping in the system? That can send flakes of rust and mess things up.
  9. otherchuck

    otherchuck New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    southern california
    The third time was the charm -- I picked up a new Fluidmaster, and this one shuts off 100%. It is just that after getting two brand new fill valves which were both leaky (one Fluidmaster and one FillPro), I was getting the feeling that slow leaks were the norm since most toilets get flushed at least once a day. I now guess the two I installed were just plain defective.

    This is a great forum, by the way...lots of useful advice from courteous people.

    Feel free to ignore the rest, but to answer another question: Regarding debris/sediment -- When I look into the bottom of a water tank that we have (12 ft tall, 7500 gallon), the bottom of the tank looks amazingly clean after tens years of use, so there isn't lots of gunk in our water fortunately. Plus we have a whole-house filter. Plus two of the fill valves that leaked were brand new. If by sediment, you mean minerals...yes we do have a lot of minerals in our water. Our piping is copper, so hopefully no rust flakes.
  10. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,153
    Location:
    New England
    Whenever you shut the water off, then turn it back on refilling the pipes (not just turning a faucet on/off, draining it a little during maintenance), any crud on the inside of the pipes wil get dislodged. Even though the water may run clear normally, it isn't uncommon to get a momentary spurt of dirty water when you turn the water back on after maintenance. This can sometimes mess up a new valve or an inlet filter. On the Fluidmaster, it could be that they seal was not fully tight. Next time it leaks, try just replacing that - it's about 1/10th the cost of a new valve and takes about a minute to replace.
  11. gusherb94

    gusherb94 Member

    Messages:
    124
    Location:
    chicago/nw IN
    When Fluidmaster starts giving me trouble on the certain condition I may have it in I change it to a Korky and my issues go away. My usual issue being old iron pipes with rust plugging up the Fluidmaster.
    In your case I would have tried Korky as well, they tend to be better made fill valves and a slightly less complicated operation.
  12. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,360
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    To answer the original question, "Should I expect fill valve to leak a little?", No valve or connection in a water system should ever leak. If it does, you have a problem. A little leak is like a being a little pregnant.
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