Toilet tank leak - no apparent signs.

Discussion in 'Toilet Forum discussions' started by donhall, Jul 28, 2012.

  1. donhall

    donhall New Member

    Messages:
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    Location:
    calif
    Toilet is an Eljer- two piece.

    Tank water level drops about 1/2" in 30 minutes, and keeps dropping to about 1 1/4" over two hours. if the supply valve is closed. Level will not drop further than 1 1/4". Water level is below the overflow tube. Dye in tank water does not enter bowl. No signs of moisture between bowl and tank. No signs of moisture around base of bowl. No sign of moisture at base of refill valve, nor supply valve. Flapper has been changed with no improvement over original flapper. Tube from refill valve to overflow tube is not causing a siphon.

    Conditions: water level is 3/4" below overflow tube at start. Water level gradually drops causing a refill of the lost water by the refill valve about every 20 minutes (just a squirt). If the supply valve is closed, water level will drop to about 1 1/4" in two hours, then stop at that level.

    The tank is still 3/4 full when the water level stops dropping. If the flapper were faulty, the leak would continue.

    I located this thread posted in 2010, but no resolution was posted: http://www.terrylove.com/forums/showthread.php?37558-leaking-toilet-after-2-flapper-changes

    Any thoughts?

    Thanks...... don from Santa Cruz
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2012
  2. wjcandee

    wjcandee Wise One

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    Spontaneous evaporation? ;)

    I think you need to check your assumptions or recheck what you think you see, because what you are describing seems almost impossible, unless your kids are driving you crazy by scooping cups of water out of the tank while you're running your tests.

    Critically, you say that dye in the tank does not make it into the bowl, but that the water lost from the tank is not ending up on the floor or between the pieces of toilet. Regardless, if it leaves the tank, it has only three places it can go: (1) back into the water supply (a siphon that anti-siphon valves are designed to prevent); (2) into the bowl -- either around the flapper, down the overflow tube, or through a crack or defect in the flush valve or its seal; or (3) onto the floor or otherwise outside of the tank into the room. Taken together, your premises seem to foreclose that, which is odd right there.

    You do say that if the water is leaking past the flapper the whole tank would drain. That's not necessarily true; water pressure above a certain level could result in a leak of only enough water to get the pressure down to where it isn't leaking. However, I think that is probably less likely, because you say that dye isn't getting into the tank. Otherwise, I would say check the seat in the fill valve and make sure it's smooth; that's why Korky makes that kit that contains silicone, a repair ring for the valve seat, and a new flapper, and there are plenty of reviews that say, "I still had a leak after changing the flapper, but then found this kit and it solved my problem."

    The most obvious candidate, because your toilet drains to the same level each time and then stops, is a siphon through the fill tube. You say it isn't siphoning, but you didn't say, "The refill tube is positioned on the end of the little clip and perched a quarter-inch above the lip of the overflow riser." So I would just want to make sure that that is your setup and that you don't have the fill tube stuck down in the overflow riser, regardless of whether you think it's siphoning. That could also account for a reduction in tank volume without water turning the dye color; the siphon would first pull undyed water. However, it wouldn't pull that much undyed water, so if you put a dye tab in the tank and then it drained 1-1/4" (which is likely more than a quart) and dyed water did not end up in the bowl, back into the supply, or onto the floor, it's a mystery.

    Perhaps a crack or leak in the overflow riser at the location that the water drains to? Still, water down the overflow riser ends up in the bowl, so you would see that with the dye.

    How is your water pressure? Is it normal? What kind of fill valve do you have?

    I will be interested to see what the real experts on the forum come up with, although I have to say that, respectfully, it seems like one of your assumptions isn't right.
  3. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

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    I would make sure that the fill tub going into the overflow tube is daylighted above the fill tube. Otherwise, if it's placed down the fill tube, it will siphon water from the tank.
  4. donhall

    donhall New Member

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    Location:
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    Beautiful response, wjcandee. Thank you!

    1. Guaranteed - no siphon.

    2. "I would say check the seat in the fill valve and make sure it's smooth; that's why Korky makes that kit that contains silicone, a repair ring for the valve seat, and a new flapper ....." (new Korky flapper installed.... I have a case of them.... using the correct size - 2")

    ...... Don't know where the seat in the fill valve is .....


    3. Click on photos of my ancient Eljer to enlarge:

    tube removed for clarity
    [​IMG]

    tube installed
    [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2012
  5. donhall

    donhall New Member

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    Location:
    calif
    Thanks, Terry..... as you can see in the photo.... no siphon.
  6. wjcandee

    wjcandee Wise One

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    A corner toilet. triangle Ultra? Triangle Ultra One? How interesting! I also like the little device that Eljer uses to reduce the amount of the flush volume (and also, unfortunately, the flush *pressure*, but hey, unintended consequences...)

    What I mean by the valve seat is the rim of the circular hole over which your great Korky Plus flapper is sitting. The rubber of the flapper will press against the rim of that hole and thus block the flow. If there are any defects in the rim, water can flow between the flapper and the rim. That's what the little gasket in the Korky repair kit would cover. Picture of Kit Clearer in their instructions: Instructions for Kit

    But I can't say that that's the solution, although by the time the water inside that tank drains 1-1/4", you may get to the lip of that little tub in which your flush valve sits, and you'd get a dramatic reduction in water pressure on that valve. Does the water fall to the top of that little circular tub? If so, I' thinking its an issue with the flush valve (cracked or such) or the valve seat. (Still doesn't explain the absence of the dye in the bowl, though.)

    Also, the design of that little tub presents an opportunity for leakage since the tub sits against the floor of the tank and the flush valve mounts through it and seals against it. Again, a longshot.

    I would start by checking whether that valve seat is smooth and the flapper can make a clean seal against it. Particularly if the water is falling to the level of the top of the tub (what Eljer calls a "reservoir"), because the water pressure is going to be teensy when it does that.

    Let us know how your mission is going until it is solved, because I am intrigued to see how it turns out.
  7. donhall

    donhall New Member

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    Thanks for your interest and "professional advice". Much obliged. As a member of a very active Corvette Forum, I'm very impressed with the immediate and informative responses of this forum.
  8. wjcandee

    wjcandee Wise One

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    Thanks for the quick responses. I'm not sure what else to suggest, and I will be interested to see what the really experienced pros in here have to say (because I'm just a civilian). Terry hit the nail on the head with what usually is the problem (amazing how often people say, "Why does it matter where I put that little hose?"), but yours is a real head-scratcher for me. I myself would probably just change the flush valve or try that Korky kit, but changing the flush valve means lifting that tank off and I wouldn't want you to try to do that without some help. It's not the easiest thing, particularly with older, heavier tanks.

    EDIT: I looked at the enlarged version of that photo with the refill hose removed, and realized that there was water in the tank (duh). I stupidly hadn't put on my reading glasses. Is that the level that it settles to? If so, I think I may have your answer. Looking at the back part of the overflow riser on the flush valve, the spot under where you put your little clip for the refill hose, I think I see a vertical crack, which would have been covered by the clip. When you look at it, do you see a crack there? Can you move it with your fingers? Does it go down to where the water finally settles? If so, then you need a new flush valve, because the water is running through that crack into the overflow tube. I think that the Korky universal one ought to fit, and if you do it yourself I would get the one with the twist-to-lock overflow tube, so you don't have to cut it to the right height. Like this one: Flush Valve Kit You can check the links for the instructions and there's even a video. But you would want some help manhandling that tank. I would also measure to make sure that the rear of the one I am recommending will fit inside that little tub and not bump against it.

    Or I could be seeing things....
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2012
  9. donhall

    donhall New Member

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    Location:
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    WOW!..... what a sleuth..... you are dead right.

    At first I thought the "crack" was just a mark left by the metal clip that secures the tube to the overflow tube. A closer look and a pinch confirmed the crack. GREAT FIND!


    CLICK ON PHOTOS TO ENLARGE
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Now.... why would I need a fill valve rather than just replace the overflow tube? I need to get smart on that tube replacement, or I have some water-proof tape that might work.

    Not a plumber?........ you missed your calling.

    Many thanks..... don
  10. wjcandee

    wjcandee Wise One

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    My pleasure. I like to give back here because of all the help I have been given. The overflow riser doesn't normally separate from the flush valve; its normally one unit. If you can fix it to your satisfaction with silicone Rescue Tape or the like, you're the homeowner and if that's good enough then you're set. The flush valve is $13 at Lowes, but it does involve some work to install; you'd likely need a helping hand. It's a fun project, but its work.

    So happy we solved it!
  11. donhall

    donhall New Member

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    Location:
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    "So happy we solved it!"

    We? Only one person gets the credit here. Nice job! I feel fortunate that I took the photo without the tube clip in place.
    With the clip in place, you would not have detected the crack.

    Sanded the overflow tube leaving a clean surface.... applied water-proof tape.... filled tank..... closed supply valve...... water level stayed perfect.

    I realize the use of tape may not be professional, but in a non-pressure application, it should work just fine. Granted, as a former IBMer, the use of tape would be frowned upon by my peers, but as a retired off-shore commercial fisherman, you learn to use anything that will get you home.

    Again, your analysis is greatly appreciated.

    don
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2012
  12. donhall

    donhall New Member

    Messages:
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    Location:
    calif
    wjcandee, this is a quote from your original post: "Perhaps a crack or leak in the overflow riser at the location that the water drains to? Still, water down the overflow riser ends up in the bowl, so you would see that with the dye."

    You were so close, but you assumed that water from the overflow went to the bowl, when it must go to the sewer. I doubt that any toilet designer would allow overflow water to go to the bowl for fear of an overflow in the bathroom. There must be a separate exit for the overflow water. Your thoughts?

    [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2012
  13. wjcandee

    wjcandee Wise One

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    You are too kind. (blushing).

    I am still confused about why this didn't turn up in the dye test. As your diagram shows, the overflow riser is there to prevent a tank overflow, and what goes down that tube really just bypasses the flapper and drains through the flush valve. (Remember that putting water down that tube is how the bowl gets refilled after the flush.) Some of that water will be used in the jet that tries to propel the material up over the weir (that flow being shown in dark blue in your diagram), and some is going to flow through the rim holes into the bowl. Even if none of the leak went through the rim holes, you would, I think, still see some dye accumulating in the bottom of the bowl.

    As to your thoughts about stuff running directly down the drain, and the potential need for it to do so to prevent water from overflowing the bowl and into the bathroom, remember that an unclogged bowl is never going to overflow, because you don't need a flush to let water run out of the bowl. If you slowly add water to the bowl, as shown in your diagram, the water will go down through the bottom of the bowl and the water level will equalize on both sides of the baffle (for lack of a better term); any water that tries to rise higher than the weir will simply run over the weir and down the drain.

    Anyway, this was a lot of fun, and I am glad that WE solved the mystery together and that you're back in business! I like the duality of your experience: by-the-book on the one hand and improvise-and-overcome on the other! Thank you for the very gracious comments!
  14. donhall

    donhall New Member

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    Location:
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    [QUOTE=wjcandee....... I'm still confused about why this didn't turn up in the dye test.

    Because the dye, being heavier than water, went to the bottom, and the water going into the tube was from the clear top water. Had I waited until all the tank water was mixed and saturated, the dye would have eventually appeared in the bowl. I, obviously, didn't wait long enough before flushing. Faulty test, which confused the issue.

    Also, as I have read, water draining from the tank slowly will not enter the bowl, but will be directed/displaced to the sewer by the equal volume in the bowl. With the water entering the crack of the overflow tube, there was no water movement in the bowl.

    Just delighted you didn't have anything better to do today.

    don
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2012
  15. wjcandee

    wjcandee Wise One

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    Aaaah. Now it makes sense.

    I got a chuckle from your last comment. This was a nice additional diversion today. Actually, I have been running all over but have been checking in on this thread regularly. It was lots of fun and again, I am delighted to help and to make a new friend on the forum.

    Be well, have a great rest of the weekend, and enjoy your now-working unit!
  16. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

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    Yes. This is what refills the bowl after a flush. If the fill tube is not directed to the overflow tube, the bowl doesn't fill completely. The bowl can't overfill; any excess water goes over the top bend and down the drain.
    Try slowly pouring a bucket into the bowl, you can't fill it higher then the top bend.

    [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2012
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