Those Magic Toilets

2005-10-01 10:15 - General

We've all seen them. We've all used them. Those toilets that have no tank, just a pipe coming out of the wall into the bowl, with a handle in between. You pull the handle, and whoooosh, the flush flushes exactly the right amount of water. I've never quite understood how they worked. But my current apartment has one of them.

I've repaired regular tank-style toilets in the past, they're pretty simple really. A year ago, my toilet here was leaking, but internally. It didn't leak water out onto the floor, but it hissed something fierce. Took a while to build up, but it quickly got very annoying. Took a lot of effort, then finally making it terms to re-sign the lease, to get it fixed. But it never really got fixed. Took a long time, and it happening again, for me to figure out why but I think I finally understand it.

A week ago, the hiss had come back. It never really went away but after the plumber was here a week ago, it was so quiet to be unnoticable, so I took what I had. But over the course of a year it slowly crept back in. This time, I bought myself a big wrench, and popped the sucker open. I watched while the plumber opened it up last time, and it was really simple inside, so no problem, right?

Well, first attempt, I managed to bungle it so the water just ran, it flushed non stop and well, that wasn't good! Opened it up again and managed to both fix that, and reduce the hiss. To the point that I finally think I really know why it's hissing at all. But it took a lot of work. There's a lot of info online about tank-style toilets, but this other kind, I could barely figure out what it is even called! Eventually I came up with flushometer. The Sloan Valve Company makes these things and even has a flushometer FAQ that gives you a few hints into how the things work. I've got the diaphragm type. I figured out a bit more from an article in an engineering magazine with pictures too!

So what's going on? Well there's an outer pipe that the water flows into, and an inner one that the water flows through to get to the toilet. They're separated by a rubber diaphragm, which lifts when the handle breaks the seal (to be brief). There's a tiny nick at the top of the inner pipe, so the diaphragm doesn't quite get the seal it should. Moving/replacing the diaphragm helps but doesn't fix the problem, and over time the rushing water wears the rubber away creating a worse leak. So I have to plug up the hole. I'm pretty sure I'm gonna try to get a drop of solder in there, but it will be tough. Here's hoping!

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