Running toilet frustration level: mental illness

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  #1  
Old 07-30-17, 08:58 AM
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Running toilet frustration level: mental illness

Hey all - I've got a Kohler toilet that runs for a few seconds every half hour or so. One at a time, each time certain that I'd identified the faulty part, I've replaced the fluidmaster, the flapper, and yesterday the whole flush valve assembly (with new flapper too). And new gasket assembly when I did the flush valve. So there's literally nothing besides the actual porcelain that's the same now, yet imagine my blood pressure when she started her old tricks.

The water level *slowly* drops about an inch, finally triggering a fillup. I am seeing it in the water bill :/ Just can't for the life of me figure out how the water is getting out of the tank. I was sure a new flush valve assembly would do it...but I do VERY much hate dealing with the spud nut - had to buy a special wrench from Home Depot and it was still really hard to get it in there due to the gasket assembly. It did say not to over-tighten, and I'm sure that I didn't - but perhaps it's a bit loose somehow? And the new bolts on the gasket I just hand-tightened by pushing down the bolt head as hard as I could and finger-tightening on the bottom, which seemed to be really snug as soon as I let go due to the rubber relaxing. Who knows - just grasping at straws!

I'm sure this is infintessimaly small potatoes for you all - but I long ago exceeded my plumbing "expertise!" Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!!
 
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  #2  
Old 07-30-17, 09:07 AM
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he water is leaking from the tank to the bowl past the flapper.

Check to see that the rim over which the flapper sits is not irregular due to mineral deposits or nicks. If it is nicked you will have to disassemble the toilet (lift off the tank) and replace the spud assembly.

Or maybe the overflow tube (which may or may not be part of the spud assembly) is plastic and has cracked due to age. This too would require lifting off the tank to replace.
 
  #3  
Old 07-30-17, 09:31 AM
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and to the mental illness issue, two things to remember.

When you are dealing with a problem remember that you will always address your biggest problem first so if this is your biggest problem right now, you are probably doing pretty good.

2ndly, everyone has some problem in their life that they are dealing with. You will be lucky to capture even a few moments in your entire life where you do not have some problem to deal with. There are no exceptions. The only people that do not have any problems...are dead.

So after that bit of uplifting information, good luck with your toilet. Your lucky that you are still alive to have a problem, and that this is the size of the problem that life decided to send you today.
 
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Old 07-30-17, 09:39 AM
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Check that the chain on the flapper is neither too tight, or too loose. A tight chain may prevent a good seal. A loose chain may have a portion of it getting sucked under the flapper when you flush causing it to not seal. Then check that the float is not set too high that the water is draining into the overflow tube. Some toilets need an oversized flapper and a universal fit may not work with 100% efficiency.
 
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Old 07-30-17, 09:45 AM
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Did you change just the flapper or the entire assembly with the overflow tube ?

I've found that replacement flappers don't always seal correctly requiring a different one.
 
  #6  
Old 07-30-17, 10:23 AM
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I had a similar problem. I was going to replace the flapper but accidentally broke the tube it attaches too. I got a kit to replace everything and now it works fine. If the flapper is leaking, you can tell because you'll see water flowing into the bowl. This commode was driving us nuts until I figured out what was wrong. It's not that hard to replace everything and the kits only cost around $20.00. I do recommend installing a rubber washer and nut on the bottom of the tank. The kits I bought only came with one for each bolt. I had trouble with a leak around one bolt with the single rubber washer.
 
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Old 07-30-17, 10:29 AM
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As already said check the chain and the flapper. You can put food dye into the tank to see if the water is running into bowl (has to be).

Also check the fluidmaster valve height to ensure the critical line is 1" above the top of the flush valve overflow pipe.

Position fill valve in tank, but do not fully install yet. Top
of fill valve MUST be set 3” above overflow pipe. This will
automatically place CRITICAL LEVEL MARK / C.L. Mark,
1” above the top of overflow pipe. Remove fill valve from
tank to adjust height.
Adjust height of fill valve by holding lower shank with right
hand and top of valve with left hand. Twist the lower shank
counter clockwise to increase valve height and clockwise
to decrease valve height. You should hear several “clicks”.
Place valve in tank and check height again. THE CRITICAL
LEVEL MARK, identified by C.L. on valve, MUST be
positioned 1” above top of overflow pipe. This is a
requirement of the Universal Plumbing Code.
Do not move lock ring. It holds the valve body and shank
together under pressure. Do not interchange body with old
shank as leaking can occur.
Also ensure the refill tube is hanging over the overflow pipe and not inside:

WARNING: Do not shove refill tube down overflow pipe. This
may cause significant water waste.
 
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Old 07-30-17, 01:25 PM
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WARNING: Do not shove refill tube down overflow pipe. This
may cause significant water waste.
Yes I forgot all about this. If you send the fill tube down the overflow instead of clipping it above, it will siphon water out of the tank and cause the fill valve to short cycle. I do a lot of work at a local hotel who had (for a while) a terrible maintenance man who short cut everything. Working in the rooms, I heard a lot of short cycling toilets so I investigated and found this to be the problem.
 
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Old 07-30-17, 02:00 PM
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Had the same problem with one of mine, Had to replace seal between tank and bowl. All bolts were rusted so plan on replacing them also.
 
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Old 08-01-17, 01:16 PM
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Hey all - thanks so much for so many incredible responses.

So in review: I've replaced the fluidmaster, the flapper (twice), the entire overflow tube assembly and spud nut, and the gasket under the spud nut along with the nuts and bolts. Also, the chain looks to be the perfect length with just a small bit of slack.

So the top of the new overflow tube is really thick, so much so that I can't clip the refill tube to it any more - here's a pic.

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What should I do with it?

Also, when I turn off the water to the toilet, it slowly drains all the way down to the bottom. That would seem to indicate the problem is indeed at the flapper. I've tried three different flappers total and recently replaced the whole overflow assembly, which came with its own flapper - how on earth could the new setup have the same problem the old one did???

Here's a pic of the setup drained:

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Thanks so much - I am really hopeful that with your help I'm on the edge of figuring this thing out!!!
 
  #11  
Old 08-01-17, 02:06 PM
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Just to be sure, put some color in the water in the tank and see if it ends up in the bowl without a flush to verify the flapper is the issue.
 
  #12  
Old 08-01-17, 03:06 PM
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The only thing you haven't changed is seal between tank and bowl. Very rare but they will leak.
 
  #13  
Old 08-01-17, 04:42 PM
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Hahaha - well that answers that 30 seconds into the test!! Just pouring in...

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Actually pugsl if you mean the big, black seal, which in this case is sort of triangle-shaped with three nuts and bolts, I did that too while I was in there. When I put it back together, I didn't tighten it with tools; I was able to get them what seems pretty darn tight simply by pushing down on the bolt with my thumb and finger-tightening the bolt below. When I'd release my thumb, the rubber of the gasket would expand, pulling the bolt substantially tight. Perhaps I should go back with tools?

Also, it was extremely difficult to tighten the spud nut since there's very little clearance around it between it and the gasket; the tool I got from Home Depot is more of a flat wrench than a giant socket, which is what I had been expecting, so I really don't know that it's very tight. The instructions did say not to overtighten...so I know I'm not in danger there. Also, I've never felt any leaks anywhere near the bolts, so who knows.

Many thanks again for your patience!!
 
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Old 08-01-17, 04:56 PM
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Lets eliminate at least one thing. With food coloring in the tank, if you press down on the flapper to ensure a good seal, does it still leak?
 
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Old 08-01-17, 07:20 PM
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I believe that you stick the fill tube down the center hole in your new fill tube and don't use the clip. Again, don't shove too much down the tube or you could cause siphoning.
 
  #16  
Old 08-01-17, 08:00 PM
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- THE PLOT THICKENS -

With food coloring in the tank and me pressing down on the flapper with a dowel, the leak continues uninterrupted. No amount of pressure or lightness seems to alter the stream at all. So - does this mean the stupid spud nut is too loose???? Any ideas on a better way to tighten it? Perhaps Kohler has a proprietary tool?

We are getting CLOSER!!!
 
  #17  
Old 08-01-17, 08:19 PM
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So about this fill tube - I think I'm a bit fuzzy on its purpose. I'm catching that it should remain above the water level so it doesn't somehow cause a siphon; I did try to remove the clip, but it didn't want to come off without being cut, so I've got it clipped in such that it's about 1.5 inches above the waterline but it does shoot directly down the overflow tube - is that what I'm looking for?

Many thanks again!
 
  #18  
Old 08-01-17, 08:30 PM
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Sounds like the fill tube is OK.

big, black seal, which in this case is sort of triangle-shaped with three nuts and bolts
Post the model number if possible.
 
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Old 08-03-17, 09:04 PM
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Hey all - sorry for the delay. Too many projects at once!

Here are some pics of the Great Black Triangular Seal.

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Sorry to say I don't have a model number, but the only seal they had at Home Depot looked like the right one to me, so I bought it and it seems to fit correctly; it also is a Kohler.

So you can see how there's hardly any room at all to get anything (save a really thin-walled, giant socket) in there to tighten or loosen the spud nut! But, since the tests have seemed to show that the flapper is *not* leaking, seems like the logical choice would be to try to further tighten the spud nut and the three bolts which hold the tank onto the bowl.

I got the spud as tight as it is now (not hugely tight) by somehow cramming the wrench between the gasket and the nut, which was very difficult; it's just hard to hold it deep enough in there, against the force of the gasket, to actually turn the nut.

As always, I am deeply grateful for all your help!!!
 
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Old 08-04-17, 04:56 AM
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Since you have the tank off take it outside and set it up on some blocks so you can see under it. Pour a bucket of water in tank and see where it leaks. You have replaced everything I can think of.
 
  #21  
Old 08-06-17, 07:25 PM
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Man, pugsl, you nailed it!!!! Got the tank set up on two chairs on the deck and promptly terrified my girlfriend by texting pictures and saying how awesome it was going to be to be able to poop outside. Sure enough, water was dripping terribly around the spud nut!! The flapper seemed to be holding. So, freshly invigorated by the problem having been positively identified, I was able to figure out how to get the wrench on a bit better, part of it being that I was on the deck, not crammed into the bathroom, and could give it a little more muscle.

I tightened it another half-turn or so, but found when I turned it over that in doing so I had rotated the overflow tube all the way to the wall of the tank, and thus the fill tube and friends was now blocking the flush valve's arm travel. I was able to rotate it back into place so it was just out of the way.

Unfortunately, despite there being no visible leaks during my post-tightening test on the deck, it did still leak when I got it put back together inside. So it seems clear that I do need to further tighten the spud nut. Any tips on keeping the tube inside from rotating to a bad position? Maybe tape a block of wood or something in there to keep it from moving as I tighten the spud nut? Just don't want to damage it or snap it off since the spud nut apparently *really* requires some force to be tight enough.

One more thought - there is a thin, white ring between the gasket and the bottom of the tank that came with the new gasket; do I need to pay attention to it? It was slightly visible on one side but not the other, indicating that it may not have been perfectly centered; is this a big deal?

Thank you all again SO very much!!!
 
  #22  
Old 08-06-17, 08:00 PM
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A thin white ring that is stuck to the lower edge of the gasket and looks like it is made of fiber or thin plastic? Looks to me you are supposed to peel it off first and discard it.

Inside the tank a gasket is supposed to touch the plastic overflow tube assembly above and touch the porcelain toilet tank below without an additional slick or hard thing like plastic or metal washer in between. Otherwise it will leak.

Under the toilet tank the spud gasket, if thick enough to touch the toilet tank above and the toilet bowl flange below, will seal all that against leakage onto the floor. The spud gasket cannot have a plastic or metal washer or spacer above or below it unless there is yet another soft item on the other side of said hard washer or spacer.

When you take it apart to recheck the parts, be sure there are no foreign objects caught in the gaskets and you file off any rough edges on the surfaces that the gaskets would touch,
 

Last edited by AllanJ; 08-06-17 at 08:17 PM.
  #23  
Old 08-07-17, 03:50 AM
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Thanks now the real plumbers can come in. I have only done that once.
 
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Old 08-07-17, 07:13 AM
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Usually the thin plastic or fiber gaskets go between the nut and the rubber. It allows the nut to turn/tighten/slide without binding on the rubber gasket. Do not discard but make sure it is in the correct place in the sandwich of the install.
 
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Old 08-07-17, 07:56 AM
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I agree with czizzi. I think you have the white "friction ring" in the wrong location.

A friction ring is designed to allow you to tighten a rubber gasket, using a nut, without the rubber spinning.
It allows the nut to simply compress the rubber.

Good job czizzi.
I would place the friction ring between the nut and the "sponge" triangular washer as said.
The sponge washer will sit flat against the bottom of the tank with nothing in between.
 
  #26  
Old 08-07-17, 07:12 PM
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FIXED!!!!!!

Seriously guys, I can't thank you enough. This thing has been bugging me for TWO YEARS. Turns out I just needed to tighten the crap out of the spud nut and it quit leaking. I did have the white washer thing in the right place but it just wasn't tight enough. It got pretty ugly; the corners of the spud nut are showing some wear but the darn thing is on and not leaking *one* bit. Since I've replaced absolutely everything in the toilet, I can't guarantee what the original issue is, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was the spud nut. Not sure how it could possibly have loosened over time, but it seems it was easier to get off than how hard it was to get it tight enough not to leak.

Again, I can't thank you all enough - this forum is just incredible; a bunch of strangers coming together to help someone that will probably never have the chance to thank them in person.

I raise my glass to you all!!
 
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Old 08-08-17, 04:03 AM
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We all have gone through the frustration of a simple repair gone wrong. All of us like to help, Thanks for the update.
 
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