Toilet Leak Catastrophes You Can Avoid: cause & prevention
TOILET LEAK CATASTROPHES - CONTENTS: Broken, damaged, leaky toilets: improper toilet installation can lead to odors, leaks into the floor, rot, insect damage, mold contamination. Cracked toilet porcelain, toilet tanks, or toilet bases. Improper toilet tank installation can cause sudden bursting of the toilet tank and a catastrophic building flood. A loose toilet is not only leaky, it is dangerous and can cause serious injury if it tips over while in use
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Toilet cracks, leaks & other toilet catastrophes:
Tthis article discusses the causes and prevention of catastrophic toilet leaks that can flood a building. We explain that an improperly mounted or loose toilet not only leaks sewage into the building but odors and sewer gases: unsanitary and potentially explosive. We describe how an over-tightened toilet reservoir tank cracked years later, flooding a building.
Toilet Leaks, Injuries, and Toilet-Flood Catastrophes You Can Avoid
If your toilet is overflowing right now, turnoff its water supply. Try removing the tank lid to push down the flush valve, and when you catch your breath, take a look at TOILET OVERFLOW EMERGENCY for some quick ways to stop a toilet that is about to overflow.
Loose Toilets can Cause Injury
Watch out: A loose toilet risks more than leaks and odors (discussed below). Anyone, but particularly someone who is elderly, sick, or disabled and who has to "drop down" their body onto a toilet to use it can be seriously injured if the toilet breaks away at the floor and tips over like the tipped toilet shown in our photo at left.
If you expect such occupants in the building you may need to review and comply with ADA standards for accessibility, including the installation of grab rails and provision of wheelchair space.
Watch out: loose is bad but also, don't over-tighten the toilet base mounting bolts or you risk breaking the toilet.
Toilet Leak Catastrophes - Cracked Toilet Tank Floods Building
Watch out: when assembling the toilet tank or top section to the bowl, also be careful not to over-tighten the mounting bolts.
Doing so may break a porcelain toilet tank immediately, or, as we have observed, an over-tightened toilet tank may suddenly crack years later, flooding the building and leading to costly water damage.
Our photos below describe just this case: the toilet tank cracked suddenly (no one was at home), several years after the tank had been mounted (and apparently over-tightened) on to the toilet bowl.
The offending toilet is shown at left, and in close-ups in our photos below.
This cracked toilet tank was no trivial problem.
Especially because no one was at home at the time of this toilet leak, when the toilet tank cracked the toilet fill valve just kept running on, flooding half of the first floor of the building, soaking carpets, furnishings, drywall and trim, much of which had to be removed and disposed-of just to dry out the building.
This burst toilet tank flooded the home during a hot but rainy day in July. Luckily the owners arrived home on the day of the catastrophe and began an aggressive water cleanup, successfully avoiding a still more-costly mold contamination remediation job.
Our photo of debris tossed outside gives a clue about how we proceeded to avoid a more costly mold problem: all of the floor/wall trim boards were removed and tossed outside (where it was still raining).
Anywhere that drywall was wet (along floors where floodwaters had spread in the building, we removed the bottom 12" of drywall.
We installed electric fans, heaters, and dehumidifiers to dry out the building as rapidly as possibly.
Even so, checking behind a small section of wall/floor trim board that had been left in place, more than a week later the drywall behind that trim was still wet, as was the wall cavity.
Rapid response and thoroughness are important to avoid more extensive mold damage when the interior of a home is soaked for any reason.
In our cracked toilet photos beginning at below left our pencil points to the crack at the bottom of the toilet tank, and at right you can see that the crack originates on the bottom of the toilet tank where hardware fittings had been over-tightened - in this case during replacement of the toilet tank fill valve.
Since two-piece toilet tank mounting hardware will normally include some remarkably thick rubber mounting washers, if the toilet tank is properly bolted you'll see that it does not leak, but you can wiggle it slightly at its mounting point to the toilet bowl after the toilet tank has been secured in place.
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(Mar 11, 2014) Deb said:
My toilet has a minor leak around the base on one side. My plumber said the seal is fine. He said it is caused from the toilet being on carpet, and that the carpet needs cut out around the toilet, because the carpet is probably mashed down on that side from people setting on it. Can this really cause a toilet to leak?
A toilet should never leak anywhere at any time - leaks need to be repaired.
A leak at the toilet base is unsanitary.
The toilet should not have been mounted on a carpeted surface in the first place - it will be difficult to obtain a proper and reliable sanitary seal as the toilet an indeed wobble and mash carpet padding and carpeting, crushing the wax seal and leaking.
The toilet should be removed, carpeting cut out from beneath the toilet base, a new wax ring installed, and the toilet bolted securely to a solid floor.
(Sept 24, 2014) Anthony said:
My toilet leaks at the back leaving puddles of water at the back of the toilet. What is the cause of this and how can I repair it? Thanks so much
Anthony you need to double check that the leak is from the toilet base, not the cistern or tank above.
if it's only at the base you probably need to replace the wax ring that seals the toilet base to the flange on the sewer pipe
(May 3, 2015) Freddie said:
I have an old toilet that I put a Fluidmaster air triggered lever and turn-off into (got tired of replacing the always rusting chains). Seems to have been working fine up till today. Water dripping through the floor into the ceiling underneath - clear water running over and out of the bowel, tank empty but refilling.
I turned off the fill valve, child says the toilet clogged but they only flushed once; then the clear water in the bowel suddenly went down the drain. Toilet works fine now. Maybe the child flushed twice and I caught it right before the refill valve shut off, or do you think the valve stuck and was diverting water to the bowel instead of the tank?
(May 6, 2015) Freddie said:
Here's an update - it was a Hydro-Stop valve, similar to the Fluidmaster Dual, but only one flush speed and cheap ($10). I re-read the instructions at the big-box home store, and they call out as a feature that pushing the lever upwards when the bowel is overflowing stops water going into the bowel. Seems to me that they know it can be stuck in open when the bowel is clogged - why I don't know, maybe the flush makes an internal float drop and it doesn't work if the toliet clogs.
Thanks Freddie, interesting and helpful to other readers.
(June 16, 2015) Freedie said:
Final update; two items: 1) I tried to ask the manufacturer of the Hydro-Stop, Danco, but whomever answered didn't understand the question. 2) Yesterday a partial clog had siphoned water out of the bowel, I flushed it once and the Hydro-Stop continued to fill the bowel as the water rose to the top of the bowel. I had to push the flush lever upwards to stop it (this is touted as a feature in the instructions). Now I know not to trust it. The Hydro-Stop seems like a good idea, but this is a fatal flaw for a toilet in an upstairs bathroom; a child or a visitor or an inattentive adult could cause thousands of dollars of damages.
Good feedback, Freddie.
I was not clear who makes the Hydro-Stop as it appears under Danco and under MJSI Corporation in Irving Texas. That's whom I'd call. Their technical support (MJSI) telephone number is 1-800-523-5135 or technical support is at 1-800-523-5135 Option 2
(July 12, 2015) Freddie said:
Danco Product Support didn't dispute that it was their product, but it appears that they didn't understand the question -- here is their response:
Your request (#10209) has been deemed solved.
Thank you for choosing Danco. There should only be one flush on the toilet. The toilet will process and function through the cycle after that point. If you have any questions feel free to let us know.
Danco,Inc. a division of the NCH Corporation
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2005 ASHRAE Handbook : Fundamentals: Inch-Pound Edition (2005 ASHRAE HANDBOOK : Fundamentals : I-P Edition) (Hardcover), Thomas H. Kuehn (Contributor), R. J. Couvillion (Contributor), John W. Coleman (Contributor), Narasipur Suryanarayana (Contributor), Zahid Ayub (Contributor), Robert Parsons (Author), ISBN-10: 1931862702 or ISBN-13: 978-1931862707
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1996 Ashrae Handbook Heating, Ventilating, and Air-Conditioning Systems and Equipment: Inch-Pound Edition (Hardcover), ISBN-10: 1883413346 or ISBN-13: 978-1883413347 ,
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