Henk van Hoof - Repair your Leaky Loo

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(Updated: November 7, 2000)

This is a simple solution for a very common problem

You know the problem? The cistern of your water closet gradually starts dripping progressively.
OK, as long as you don't take a long holiday it won't flood your house, but it is annoying.
And it will cost you a lot of money. This is not the water saving we want for our environment.
Of course you have tried a new rubber seal and a new brass nipple in the valve which is automatically closed - no, it should be cloased - by the rising float.
This helps, but within a few years the dripping starts all over again.

I'll tell you the cause of this dripping: you still have your sanitary with the old-fashioned type of floating system, where the valve is being closed very gradually. This is totally wrong, as the slowly running water - when the valve is almost closed - is very corrosive. Particularly when the water in your region is strongly calcareous. The corrosion will cause pitting of the sealing surface of the nipple, the leaking will start and will get worse and worse.

The Solution

Take the following steps to modify the floating system:
  1. Be frugal, but first buy a brand new set of nipple and rubber sealing for the valve; particularly when either surface is damaged or not completely flat and smooth. You'll be swindled, but relax; this will be your last major investment in the old lot!
  2. Search your lumber for some kind of plastic little box, jar or cup, a round one or rectangular doesn'n matter, dimensions are not very critical; however it must be amply smaller than the float:
    around 4 x 3 x 1 inch high (10 x 7 x 2-3 cm) will probably do. If it is oblong, see hint 5.d below.
  3. Drill a small hole in the bottom; around 3/32 - 1/8 inch (2.5 - 3 mm) will do the trick. You can start with a small hole and widen it a bit if necessary.
  4. Tie the cup in a horizontal position above the float of the cistern, as far away from the valve as possible; use plastic straps or (isolated and solid) copper wire.
  5. Probably, on the valve part of your cistron there is already a plastic hose hanging down in the water (its purpose is to reduce noise and splashing around of the out-pouring water).
    If not, there should be a hole or pipe where you can connect one.
    Connect a narrow hose to the thicker one; the type used for aquaria will do perfectly.
  6. Tie up this hose near the plastic cup, in such a way that the water will pour into the cup. If the water runs to fast, cut out an additional hole to divert part of the water.

That's all folks!

How it works

After you flush the water closet, the float falls down, the valve opens and the water starts pouring into the cistern and - thanks to our modification - into your brand new plastic cup. In spite of the heavy cup full of water, the float has enough buoyancy to lift the whole thing and after some time, the cistern is full enough and the familiar dripping is approaching.
But look carefully: with the now absent or only tiny stream of water entering the plastic cup, the water is leaving it more quickly through the tiny hole; the cup gets lighter and lighter and the float comes up progressively, until it seals the valve completely and firmly.
No dripping any more, no corrosion, and no leaks caused by the pitting corrosion.

When you have Problems

Here are some answers (A) and hints if problems arise:

  1. Too much or too little water is pouring out of the thin plastic hose.
    (A) First try to solve this by adjusting the stopcock between the water pipe and your toilet.
    If that doesn'n work and the water runs to fast, you can cut an additional hole in the lower part of the hose.
    I don't think it is likely that the water runs too slowly; if so, then maybe the plastic hose is not fixed tight enough in the valve body; it will be difficult to mend that; maybe you can reduce the size of the hole in the plastic cup if it is not getting sufficiently filled up with water.
  2. The water leaves the plastic cup, when the cistern is almost filled up, so slowly that it takes too long for the float to rise fast and far enough to close the valve.
    (A) Increase the size of the hole in the bottom of the cup.
  3. In the long run, the plastic hose gets clogged.
    (A) This is caused by growing bacteria or algae; you can try to fight this by putting a very thin copper wire inside the hose (f.i. one thin filament from a stranded wire).
  4. The float does not rise at all or not sufficiently.
    (A) Didn't you select TOO LARGE a cup? Search for a smaller one or make a hole in the side of it, so it will fill only partly.
    Also inspect the float for a leak or porosity, or maybe it is too small. In such a case replace it.
  5. The float rises nicely, but the dripping is not stopped.
    (A) This can have 4 causes:
    1. you were too frugal and didn't buy a revision set for the valve; do it now!
    2. there is too much wear in the moving parts of valve and lever to press the rubber sufficiently onto the sealing brass surface. You can try to mend it or to mitigate the play with a thin plastic disc underneath the rubber sealing.
      If the float isn't adjusted properly, try to bend the lever downward.
    3. you selected too small a cup; search for a bigger one!
    4. Due to wear in the bearing of the lever of the float it topples over toward one side. Try to reduce the play in the bearing and/or use a narrow, oblong cup and put it in a parallel and centered position along the lever of the float. This will minimize rocking tendencies.
  6. The plastic cup is emptied too fast by siphonning through the plastic hose.
    (A) If this doesn'n happen too soon it is all the better! Otherwise, fix the hose in a higher position, to keep it from touching the water.

Working Wait, I'll make you a drawing, clarifying things a bit.

You are welcome with any suggestion on issues relevant to this site. And of course you can send anything concerning the problems or solutions of them to the E-mail address below.

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© 2000 Henk van Hoof     Any comments or questions? E-mail: h.van.hoof@hccnet.nl