vacuum breaker leaking

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by Randyj, Jun 15, 2009.

  1. Randyj

    Randyj Master Plumber

    Messages:
    1,047
    Location:
    Alabama
    I've run into this quite a few times and have seen it plenty. I replace the diaphragm, install handle kit and a new vacuum breaker kit... put it back together and water dribbles from under the vacuum breaker nut... can anyone tell me what causes this or what to look for? I don' think it's the v/b or gasket leaking... looks to me that it is coming from the holes below the nut flange.
  2. kingsotall

    kingsotall Plunger/TurdPuncher

    What is the water pressure¿
  3. Randyj

    Randyj Master Plumber

    Messages:
    1,047
    Location:
    Alabama
    Dang if I know... it's the same in the rest of the building and those other toilets don't leak.... but I'll try to check it next time I'm out there.
  4. Mario

    Mario Master Plumber

    Messages:
    18
    Location:
    Kansas
    Those holes are an integral part of the anti-siphon, back-flow prevention system.
    If it's assembled properly they shouldn't dribble any water.
    If you research the history of the Sloan valve, before the holes and vacuum breaker were added to the design around the turn of the last century many people were poisoned, got sick and died from several incidents traced back to cross-contamination from unprotected Sloan flushometer valves.

    It is really disturbing to me that a Google or Bing on the subject pulls up a near complete blank.
    I found something about an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in the middle of a 3 mg pdf file, but the original incident which I believe happened in Chicago about 1910 or 1920 is proving difficult to find.
    Of course the official Sloan site fails to mention it.
    I learned about it years ago in a continuing education class on the history of Flushometer valves.
    I was going to post a link to the incident, but it seems to have somehow either been removed from public records on the Internet or efficiently buried under the multitude of popular "hits" a search retrieves that are advertisements, product info and commercialism.
    How interesting.

    Sloan is still marketing products in 2009 that can cause cross-contamination's of the kind that are more of a nuisance and not of a life threatening nature.
    Their automatic faucets are wide open to hot and cold lines running to a mixing valve below a single solenoid valve.
    Some units have a two solenoid design, but can still cross over while operating.
    Without the "optional" $40 apiece check valves for the stops, there is nothing to stop the cold lines greater pressure from filling an entire building's hot lines with cold water.
    Don't get me wrong here, I'm not implying Sloan is the only company making these things.
    Chicago, Bradley, AirTrol...are a few others I ran into at the hospital I worked at.
    Almost all the designs for automatic faucets will cross connect without check valves.

    Back to the vacuum breaker dribble....
    I worked in a hospital as a maintenance plumber once upon a time.
    I've rebuilt hundreds of these Sloan valves and I ran into a few that were a real pain just like you have described.
    All new parts installed and it still dribbles water out those holes.
    Sometimes I wondered if it may be the age of the rubber.
    Just because you open a new kit and install it, that doesn't mean it hasn't sat on a shelf somewhere for a few years and dried out.
    Still I never walked away from a toilet until I got it to stop dripping, even if I wasn't exactly sure what I did to get it to finally quit.
    Hate when that happens.

    My best guess is the problem comes from that little paper gasket that goes on top the vacuum breaker.

    Take it loose and re-tighten it being very careful to make sure the paper slip gasket stays in place while turning the nut.
    That seems to make all the difference.
    The thick rubber on the upper end of the vacuum breaker has to make a good seal with the bottom end of the Sloan valve and that won't happen if the paper gasket doesn't slide and let it keep the proper shape while you're turning the nut.
    Make sure the bottom of the valve is clean from calcium build up and corrosion, any uneven surfaces.
    Try a little Teflon pipe dope to help the sliding process if all else fails.

    Another thing you may want to do on a rebuild is always replace that o-ring on the slip joint and grease the new one.
    Many times they are dried out, flat, and after replacing the diaphragm, inner lid, vacuum breaker, and handle kit... you have turned the valve enough to get the vacuum breaker out and the o-ring wont re-seal no matter what you do.
    Better to just make that part of the standard rebuild and save all the hassle.
    Good luck, and if anyone can find that story on the contamination caused from early Sloan valves without vacuum breakers and post it, I'd be interested in reading it again.
    Thanks.
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2009
  5. Mario

    Mario Master Plumber

    Messages:
    18
    Location:
    Kansas
    Here's something I found in the April 2009 edition of PDS magazine on Cross Connection Control...
    http://www.psdmagazine.com/ContinuingEducation/200904CEU[156].pdf


    "One example of a cross-connection catastrophe occurred in Chicago in 1933 from defective fixtures and piping. As a result, 1,409 individuals contracted amoebic dysentery, which caused 98 deaths."

    I'm not sure if this is the same event I was referring to on flushometers, but I do remember now where I read about it...
    It was in a Cross-Connection Control manual in a class I took to get certified to rebuild back-flow preventers.

    We Plumbers really are super heroes out there on the front lines protecting the general public from death and disease...
    Where did I leave my cape?
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2009
  6. kingsotall

    kingsotall Plunger/TurdPuncher

    Me too! Sometimes you look like a hero and the customers asks what you did and they sure as hell don't want to hear, "Dunno. :confused:"
    :rolleyes:

    We call that paper washer a fiber washer.
  7. Randyj

    Randyj Master Plumber

    Messages:
    1,047
    Location:
    Alabama
    Thanks for the interesting reply Mario. This job happens to be in the city jail of my home town. It has the old push button valves on the mixer and I've got to be a contortionist to work on this plumbing. Unfortunately one of the mixers is completely gone and all of the faucet valves leak. This means that since I probably can't find new Acorn faucet washers I'll probably have to buy replacement cartridges for about $60 wholesale/$95 elsewhere and the missing mixer will probably have to be replaced with an Airtrol mixer which will probably be about $800. The chase that provides the access already has major rust problems so we don't need any more drips added to it. Until I get back there I'll be hunting the faucet washers for the Acorn mixer valves.
    As for the vacuum breakers, I am rebuilding all the flushometers for all 8 cells and replacing all the vacuum breakers. All get new gaskets and I still have 2 that simply will not stop leaking when flushed. Looks like I'll be pulling them apart one more time just to see if I can get it stopped. I have found that sometimes a leak will stop on a rubber gasket if I loosen the connection just a little. Pitiful that this building is only 30 years old and still looks great everywhere except the plumbing behind the wall in the jail. 4 other plumbers refused to work on it or told them that parts could not be found. In one day I got everything I needed or found where I could find replacements the and am making very very good money. I am surprised that the others were either too dumb or simply did not want to work on jail house plumbing. Yeah, it's nasty but so is all plumbing I've ever worked on. The Sloan type valves definitely have their own unique challenges. Still... I hope to find the Acorn faucet washers for the Penal-Trol valves.
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2009
  8. Mario

    Mario Master Plumber

    Messages:
    18
    Location:
    Kansas
    The hospital I worked at was a network of several local hospitals, and had taken over a psych ward/substance abuse unit that had security locked out penal type AirTrol faucets and the Acorn push button toilets.
    I had about 45 units with these push button toilets and air actuated metering faucets to upkeep.

    The AirTrol faucets have a rebuild-able diaphragm in the metering assy on the steel bracket under the sink.
    Many wholesale distributors like Sexauer will try to say they only sell the whole $500 bracket assy. as one piece.
    That isn't true. We ordered quite a few complete units at first until I had time to tear one down and figure them out.

    It is easier to just change them out, but it's usually one little thing gone wrong you can fix with a rebuild and save the $500.
    You can get a breakdown of the unit's schematics online and order the parts separately.


    [​IMG]


    The usual offending member is called a "magnet cup assy" which is a $35 rebuild kit that has a steel diaphragm plate with a little hole near the edge just like a miniature Sloan diaphragm and the gasket that seals up the lid you have to remove to get to it.
    There is a spring in the center and a magnetic ring that cause the steel diaphragm to "float" inside the metering box.
    That is usually the problem when the faucet won't shut off completely and continues to drip.
    The steel diaphragm plate starts to corrode and rust.

    There is one other thing that will stop most of these faucets from working, and you can fix this problem with a Flathead screwdriver.
    The mixing valve above the AirTrol unit under the sink or in your case in the pipe-chase has a Flathead adjustment screw on it.
    There may be two, one for the hot and one for the cold....I can't remember exactly.
    For some reason sentiment builds up under this screw and stops the flow entirely.
    All you have to do is run this screw all the way in and back out a few times and this breaks up the internal deposits blocking the flow.
    This fixed 90 percent of the problems on sinks with no or little flow, and restored them to full operating pressure.
    After you have done this, the pressure won't come right back up at first.
    You have to push the button to operate the faucet and wait for it to cycle through two or three times before the water will work it's way back up to the faucet.

    The toilets can be rebuilt also...
    The Sloan valve is an ordinary Sloan valve, just the handle actuator and the remote push button are different.
    The brass cylinder that attaches to the push button is ordered as one unit and at the other end of the air line, the mechanism that attaches to the Sloan valve to start the flush is ordered as an assembly also.
    It comes as a kit with a plunger, seal and a few parts which rebuild the cylinder that operates the handle mechanism.

    They are ordered as two separate kits.

    I believe I went online to get the schematics and ordered the parts through a local supplier after I knew what I needed.
    They did send me the wrong parts once or twice but eventually we got it worked out.

    Good luck.
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2009
  9. Randyj

    Randyj Master Plumber

    Messages:
    1,047
    Location:
    Alabama
    Thanks Mario. Here's the exploded view of the cartridge in the old type Penal-Trol valves I'm working with. There are no Airtrol valves in the jail at this time. The problem I'm having is coming up with the faucet washers (item #5). I'm hoping I can buy the 39 cent washers rather than the $60-$95 cartridges... I'd sure be able to keep this customer if I could come up with this one...
    [​IMG]
    These washers have a larger than normal hole in the center, they're green, and made of nylon. The outer rim has two levels. It fits down into a cup type brass washer and the upper part of the nylon washer is bigger in diameter than the lower half.... hope this makes sense.
  10. Mario

    Mario Master Plumber

    Messages:
    18
    Location:
    Kansas
    Yeah, that is different than what I was describing.
    But with that exploded view you should be able to order the parts easily through an authorized distributor.
    One place you can get these parts is called "Industrial Mechanical Supply".
    They had your same drawing on the web.
    You can call them Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at: 1-877-258-2572.

    The item # 5 faucet washer is called a #33010520 gasket disk.
    You'll probably also need item #10, #33010400 o-ring, and the item #12, #33010495 bonnet gasket as well while you're at it.

    Whatever you are looking for, all you have to do is look up the manufacturer's web-site and find a distributor to your area then call them up and have them send you the parts.
    Most plumbing manufacturers won't ship you the parts directly.
    They only deal their parts through authorized distributors so you will have to go through one on their list.
    That's why you usually can't find their parts in your local plumbing supply store, but some larger stores may be able to order them for you.
    If there isn't an authorized distributor in your local area, you can call in an order and they can send you the parts next day from about anywhere.
    Good luck.
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2009
  11. Randyj

    Randyj Master Plumber

    Messages:
    1,047
    Location:
    Alabama
    Nothing personal...but start your own thread...
Similar Threads: vacuum breaker
Forum Title Date
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice Vacuum Breaker leaks in basement when pipe is opened (for sprinkler system) Jun 29, 2014
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice Need help finding a non-standard vacuum breaker May 27, 2014
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice Leaky Legend outside faucet vacuum breaker May 12, 2014
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice How to Repair/Replace Vacuum Breaker on Outside Hose Bibb? Feb 18, 2014
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice Alternative for hose bib vacuum breaker noise Jun 13, 2013

Share This Page