This project explains how to replace an old style toilet ballcock valve with a new Fluidmaster® Whisper Fill Valve.
The toilet ballcock valve started making a loud humming noise as the tank was nearly full and the valve closed. The low hum could be heard throughout the house like a ghostly moan. The toilet tank acted like a bell to amplify the noise. The ballcock valve was probably 10 years old and getting worn out.
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The fix took about 20 minutes and cost less than $20 in parts.
Common Toilet Fill Valve Problems
The toilet fill valve may need replacing if any of the following problems occur:
- The tank doesn’t refill after you flush.
The valve may be stuck. Take the lid off the tank and jiggle the float to open the valve. Minerals and sediment tend to build up over time inside the valve causing it to stick.
- The toilet runs continuously after you flush.
First – check that the flapper valve is closing properly and/or the flapper chain isn’t getting kinked and preventing the flapper from closing. You don’t want a lot of extra links in the chain or it will tend to kink up – effectively shortening the chain. If you suspect the flapper isn’t making a water tight seal, put a few drops of dark food coloring in the tank and see if colored water appears in the bowl. If so, the flapper is leaking and needs to be replaced.
Second – if the water level is so high in the tank that the water spilling into the overflow pipe, the fill valve is bad. A running toilet can waste hundreds to thousands ($$$) of gallons of water in a day. Shut off the water supply valve (see below) and replace the fill valve.
- The fill valve hums or makes a moaning sound like mine was doing.
- If the toilet won’t flush and the flush handle feels light (swings freely), the flapper chain or tank arm may be broken. Look inside the tank and inspect the flush handle, lift arm and flapper chain for problems. Replacement parts are readily available for these items at any home improvement store and the repair is simple.
- If you have a ballcock valve with a float ball, check if the float ball is cracked and water logged. There shouldn’t be any water inside the float ball. You may only need to replace a cracked or broken float ball.
Toilet Repair Parts
I purchased a Fluidmaster® Whisper Fill Valve (cost ~$11.50) and Brasscraft® Speedi® Plumb PLUS braided polymer reinforced supply hoses (cost ~$6.50) from Home Depot. I bought several hoses because I wasn’t sure if I needed the 3/8″ or 1/2″ compression nut or if the 9″ or 12″ hose length fit best. As it were, the water supply valves in my home are the 3/8″ size.
I prefer the high quality Brasscraft® Speedi Plumb® PLUS braided hoses because they’re more flexible and reliable than the PVC plastic supply hoses. The few dollars extra for the braided hose is worth the peace of mind over a burst PVC plastic hose and ensuing flood damage.
The Fluidmaster kit includes a nice set of instructions, the refill valve and flapper.
Jumping ahead in the project, compare the Fluidmaster / Brasscraft parts (above) to the old ballcock / PVC supply hose that I removed from the toilet:
Trivia: The ballcock was invented by Thomas Crapper.
Remove the Old Ballcock Valve and PVC Water Supply Hose
Disassembly and removal of the ballcock valve and PVC supply hose is simple and requires only an adjustable wrench.
Step 1: Locate the water supply valve. It is normally on the left of the toilet.
Step 2: Turn off the Water Valve.
Turn the water supply valve clockwise to turn it off. This contractor grade (i.e. cheap) valve with a plastic shaft leaks a bit when turned. Do not over tighten the valve to avoid breaking it. When I run out of the things to do, I will replace this valve with a quality 1/4 turn angle ball stop valve.
Step 3: Flush the Toilet and Hold the Handle to Drain the Tank
Hold the handle to allow most of the water to drain out of the tank. There will still be about 1/2 inch of water in the bottom of the tank.
The water in the toilet tank is clean – the same water that comes out of the kitchen faucet – and brownish stains on the sides of the tank is mostly iron and sediments, a result of the water sitting in the tank for long periods of time.
Step 4: Unscrew and Remove the Float Ball
The float ball simple screws onto the end of the lift arm.
Step 5: Sponge the Remaining Water from the Tank
Use a sponge to remove the rest of the water from the tank. Now is also a good time to wipe down the sides and bottom of the tank to remove the dusting of sediment.
Tip: You could wring out the sponge in a bucket. Why bother? Just hold open the flapper valve and wring out the sponge – the water will run into the bowl. Way less drippy and less motion!
Step 6: Remove the Refill Tube
Pull the refill tube off the nipple of the fill valve and out of the holder on the overflow pipe.
Step 7: Unhook the Flapper Chain from the Tank Lever
Skip this step if you’re not replacing the flapper.
Step 8: Unhook the Flapper from the Fill Tube Mounting Ears
Slip the flapper off the mounting ears to remove the flapper.
Step 9: Take the Flapper out of the Tank
Here’s the progress thus far – the ballcock valve and refill tube holder will be removed next.
This project is continued in Part 2.
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