I have a toilet in my basement beside my rec-room. About every 10 minutes, or so, it will make a sound like a partial flush. The tank doesn’t drain. It’s just a short burst of water or something that sounds like a partial flush. It is driving me nuts. It almost sounds like air pressure builds up and then releases every so often. I have two other toilets in the house, that don’t make the noise. Is there a way of eliminating this noise?
Dear Mr. Marantz,
I read your column in the free press regularly and hoped you could answer a question for me. Our house is 10 years old. Our eavestrough started leaking last year at one of the corners of the house and is getting worse with time. There is a steady stream of water running out when it rains. Do we need to have it replaced or is there a way we could repair it ourselves? Any help you can give me would be greatly appreciated.
Today we have two questions that are unrelated, but both are very short and straightforward and will be answered.
Noisy and problematic toilets are a common occurrence, mainly due to the low cost parts used in today’s plumbing systems. Tank parts for toilets are very inexpensive and mostly constructed of corrosion resistant plastics. Often gaskets, seals, and washers wear out over time and have to be replaced. Metal bolts and other components will eventually corrode and fall apart, even higher quality brass ones. Once these components are damaged, they can be simply replaced, by a reasonably competent do-it-yourselfer, after a trip to the local hardware store or home centre. The water supply to the toilet must be turned off at the shut off valve, the tank drained, and the damaged parts replaced.
In the first case of the toilet that is wearing considerably on his patience, the damage may be in the ballcock or the tank ball or flapper, if he has an older style ball and rod mechanism. When the water in the tank reaches the desired height, the floating ball automatically shuts off the water supply filling the tank. If this mechanism is damaged, it may periodically go on or run continuously. If the tank ball or flap that seals the tank at the bottom is damaged or worn, it will not seal properly. If this happens, a small amount of water will continually drain into the bowl, until the water in the tank drops enough to engage the fill mechanism. This will stop once the water reaches the desired height.
I have found that in depth analysis of toilet malfunction is often a time consuming and frustrating exercise. If the problem cannot be quickly figured out for an older toilet, it is normally easiest to buy all new tank parts and replace them at the same time. Normally the time required to drain a tank, unbolt it from the bowl, if required, and replace all the parts is less that replacing one component at a time until the correct solution is found. The cost of purchasing the complete “guts” of the toilet if normally less than the service charge for a licensed plumber.
The solution to the second question of leaky eavestroughs may be even simpler that the toilet repair mentioned above. Eavestroughs on newly constructed homes are most often made of aluminum that is continuously run from a roll through specially designed mobile equipment. The benefit of this style of system is the absence of any seams for the entire side of a roof or straight run of fascia. Aluminum eavestroughs are pre-painted, corrosion resistant and available in many colours. They are very lightweight and easy to install.
The only normal points of leakage, on this style of eavestrough system, are the corners, ends and downspouts. To prevent leakage in these areas the installers commonly seal the troughs with silicone caulking on the inside. Silicone is very moisture resistant, but may deteriorate over time from ultraviolet rays and other normal environmental factors. The cause of the leak in question is likely deteriorated caulking at the corner. The repairs are simple accomplished by carefully climbing a ladder and cleaning out debris, dirt, and water from the problematic corner. Cutting out the older caulking with a utility knife is the next step before cleaning and re-caulking the seams with fresh silicone. This should be applied liberally to the inside of the corner of the trough and smoothed off with a wet finger, to prevent obstruction of water flow. The caulking will dry and cure in a short time and put an end to the leak.
The only other likely possibilities for the leak are a blocked downspout or loose eavestrough. Both of these possibilities should be apparent upon inspection of the trough from above, when the ladder is scaled. If either condition exists, the trough should be cleared or re-secured before caulking the corner.