Locating the source of a sound

February 7, 2018 at 23:55:19
Specs: several
Okay, the sound isn't coming from a computer or anything
like that. It's in my toilet tank. But the technique for locating
the source should be the same.

In the past I've tried to use cardboard tubes and various things
to pipe sounds to my ear, without much success. Can you tell
me what actually works? It is a very faint sound of constant
bubbling. I can't tell whether it is coming from some part of
the fill valve, some part of the outlet valve, or somewhere very
close to them. What can I use that you know actually works?

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis


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#1
February 8, 2018 at 01:17:51
A megaphone perhaps? they aint that expensive & you can keep it for parties & stuff :)

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#2
February 8, 2018 at 01:37:59
A stethoscope might be useful?

Amazon has a range that vary in price from quite cheap too ?...

message edited by trvlr


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#3
February 8, 2018 at 01:44:47
or maby one of those eurthquake scanners ^^, dont know the name in english.

just kidding ofc, haha

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Related Solutions

#4
February 8, 2018 at 13:53:14
Or maybe try posting in a plumbing forum?

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#5
February 8, 2018 at 13:53:38
Jeff

There are only two moving parts on a normal toilet. The flapper that lets the water out of the tank and the fill valve, that lets the water into the tank. Either one can leak. To determine which may be leaking do the following. Shut off the valve on the external supply line and watch for a period of time. If the flapper is leaking the water level in the tank will fall. If the fill valve is leaking the water level will rise and eventually spill over the top of the tube that is there for that purpose.

If I had to guess, I would say the flapper is leaking slowly which will cause the ball cock fill valve to allow a small amount of water to pass thru it. Change the flapper. They are an expendable part.

Most brands will use a universal type. The only thing you will need to do is adjust the chain length so the lever lifts the flapper without tugging on it to much. The excess chain can just stay on there.

Hope this helps.

Isn't this a plumbing forum? LOL

message edited by OtheHill


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#6
February 9, 2018 at 05:10:42
riider wrote:

> Or maybe try posting in a plumbing forum?

I post mainly here and one other forum, on astronomy and
science. Over the years I've asked at both for suggestions of
places to ask questions on subjects that are not appropriate
for either of them. I never get a suggestion. I've tried asking
Google a few times, and got nothing.

I'm also trying to find a place to discuss politics. Maybe a
plumbing forum would be appropriate for that.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

message edited by Jeff Root


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#7
February 9, 2018 at 06:04:32
If you look into the cistern when the noise is there.. do you see any evidence of bubbles?

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#8
February 9, 2018 at 08:14:07
OtheHill opined:

> There are only two moving parts on a normal toilet.
> The flapper that lets the water out of the tank and the
> fill valve, that lets the water into the tank. Either one
> can leak. To determine which may be leaking do the
> following. Shut off the valve on the external supply line
> and watch for a period of time. If the flapper is leaking
> the water level in the tank will fall. If the fill valve is
> leaking the water level will rise and eventually spill over
> the top of the tube that is there for that purpose.
> If I had to guess, I would say the flapper is leaking
> slowly which will cause the ball cock fill valve to allow
> a small amount of water to pass thru it. Change the
> flapper. They are an expendable part.

I already knew that the water level must be going down,
although I hadn't observed it directly, because the fill valve
operates every so often (maybe a couple of times per hour)
at which time I see the water level go back up, the float
rises, and the fill valve shuts off again.

That's how I noticed the faint bubbling sound. It must be
the sound of water leaking out of the tank.

This started immediately after installing a brand-new flapper
valve assembly which includes *all* the parts attaching the
flapper to the tank plus two brass screws with nuts, washers,
and gaskets that attach the tank to the bowl. Curiously, they
put holes in the bottom of the tank for these screws instead
of attaching it on the outside, so the gaskets are required to
prevent leaking. When I first put the tank back in place I failed
to tighten the nuts adequately. Maybe because there are two
nuts on each bolt, and tightening the nut that holds the tank
on the bowl may have loosened the nut that holds the gasket
in place, without my noticing it was happening. There was
a tiny bit of leaking, which brought my attention to that
problem, but the leak was tiny, caught quickly, fixed, and
apparently not the source of the sound.

The sound does not seem to be coming from the flapper
itself. The sound doesn't change when I press on the
flapper or pull up very slightly on the chain. I was going
to say that it also doesn't change when I empty out most
of the water from the tak and stop the flow into the tank,
but I just experimented with this a bit, and found that it
does change in an interesting, very straightforward and
revealing way: The deeper the water in the tank, the faster
the bubbling sound. I take that to mean the more pressure
is on the leaky place at the bottom of the tank, the faster
the leak.

I think this rules out the possibility that the leak is in the
overflow tube. The height of the overflow tube is adjustable,
which means it is in two pieces: Telescoping tubes, one
inside the other. The upper, inner one can be slid up and
down. There must be one or two gaskets between them
to stop water from rushing through the gap. I thought that
gap might be where the leak is and source of the sound.
But pressing on the tubes makes no change in the sound,
and the leak and sound should stop completely when the
water level is below the top of the lower tube, or at least
below the bottom of the upper tube.

That leaves only the big gasket that goes around the outlet
which the flapper sits on. I don't understand the geometry
of this gasket very well. It was a loose piece that fit onto
the bottom of the flapper assembly after the assembly was
fastened to the big hole in the bottom of the tank. Then the
entire tank was set in place. Doing it all myself, without an
extra set of eyes to see what was going on underneath the
tank as I set it in place, it is possible it didn't end up in exactly
the right position. But my point about not understanding the
geometry is that it isn't obvious what path the leaking water
would take from the tank, around the gasket, into the bowl.

> Most brands will use a universal type. The only thing you
> will need to do is adjust the chain length so the lever lifts the
> flapper without tugging on it to much. The excess chain can
> just stay on there.

In order to get the flapper to lift more easily, I had to move the
chain from the hole at the end of the lever to the hole closer to
the handle, and at the other end of the chain, from the center
of the flapper to a connection point closer to the far edge.
Those two changes meant using the full length of the chain.

I also had to adjust the overflow tube to its maximum height,
and lower the float so the tank doesn'fill as much as it did
with the previous outlet valve, which was a strange "tower"
arrangement no longer made.

It looks like I (or someone) will have to take the whole thing
apart and put it back together again, with little expectation
that anything will change....

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis


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#9
February 9, 2018 at 10:09:00
Jeff

Why do you make things so complicated. I am a retired Builder so I know of what I speak. Just change the flapper. Depending on water quality and if you place tablets in the tank, the flapper may need replacing every year. The noise is from the fill valve opening a very small amount.

Ho;me Depot sells bulk packs that should work for most brand toilets. Kohler is the exception. Jus shut off the water and take off the flapper. No tools required. Ask for help at HDepot.


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#10
February 9, 2018 at 14:27:10
Politics? You might get better answers out of a plumbing forum.

As for sound, I've sometimes found a dowel works well (conducted sound)

Always pop back and let us know the outcome - thanks


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#11
February 9, 2018 at 14:35:02
as does a screwdriver - have one before using one for the test, and then have another after the test...

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#12
February 9, 2018 at 15:57:01
OtheHill replied:

> Just change the flapper. Depending on water quality and if you
> place tablets in the tank, the flapper may need replacing every year.

May be. But (as I said) the sound began when I installed a new
outlet valve assembly, with new flapper. Indications now suggest
that the leak is around the big gasket underneath the flapper.

> The noise is from the fill valve opening a very small amount.

No, it isn't coming from the fill valve (which I didn't replace).
Shutting off the water supply has no effect. The speed of the
bubbling sound is directly proportional to the depth of the water.
If the level is all the way down at the top edge of the outlet, it
bubbles just a bit faster than once per second. About twice
that rate when the water is 3/4 inch deep. At full depth of 7"
or so, it bubbles about 15 or 20 times per second. If the rate
of bubbling indicates the rate of water leakage, then the
deeper the water, the faster the leak. The opposite of what
I'd expect if the water were leaking under the edge of a
poorly-fitting flapper.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

message edited by Jeff Root


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#13
February 9, 2018 at 16:07:26
A wood dowel didn't do anything for me, but it is rather
short so I couldn't stick it down into the water onto the
parts at the bottom of the tank. Maybe I'll try again if I
find a longer stick or dowel or metal rod.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis


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#14
February 9, 2018 at 16:27:50
I have to say I was rather confused by all this talk about a "flapper". Seems it's because I am in the UK. Perhaps politics and plumbing can mix together after all and this article proved to be quite interesting:
https://www.greenbuildingstore.co.u...

I recently replaced a complete siphon unit because the diaphragm was a special and no longer available.

Sorry Jeff, yes, it is an aside but your query has taught me how the other half live.

Always pop back and let us know the outcome - thanks

message edited by Derek


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#15
February 10, 2018 at 03:32:54
The outlet valve that I replaced must have been what was
in the toilet originally. It was installed in the year 2000.
It worked quite differently from the flapper, and looked
completely different. And excessively complicated. When
It failed, I couldn't tell whether one of the plastic parts broke
off or just came loose, and I couldn't figure out how it went
back together. Although there were installation instructions
for it online, there were no pictures showing how the parts
fit together. That design is no longer made.

The flapper design is so much more widely-used that it is
pretty generally assumed to be what one has. It has been
around "forever".

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis


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#16
February 10, 2018 at 05:16:28
Sometimes one can get into kwaite a phlap when thyngs go wrong...

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#17
February 10, 2018 at 07:02:40
Hi Derek, here in the UK originally Diaphragms were a standard round shape/size made of thin rubber. They were then made in polythene. Being a standard they were available at one's local hardware store.

Now there are a multitude of shapes, so many that no one outlet stocks all, if any.

Am surprised you could not find yours. I recently changed an odd one and its replacement was quickly found on ebay at a good price.

I like the new design Siphons that incorporate the overflow, such that when needed flow into the Pan. Thus one is aware it is happening, not always possible with hidden single stack systems etc. and very necessary with when a Water Meter is fitted.

My experience of US systems is they are very different in operation and appearance. The ones I saw here had been fitted by US Servicemen posted here. Helped them feel at home, I suppose.

Regards - Mike

message edited by Mike Newcomb


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#18
February 10, 2018 at 07:44:09
Mike
My diaphragm was a strange rectangular thing with rounded corners. I made one for it once (you can get the material) but I didn't keep the original so making it from a copy could have produced progression errors.

New siphon has a round diaphragm and is available. It can even be fitted through the top (somehow), without pulling out the complete siphon.

Always pop back and let us know the outcome - thanks


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#19
February 10, 2018 at 08:29:25
You didn't say you replaced the flapper valve. If the chain is too short the valve can't close properly. If the chain is too long it can get caught between the flapper and the seat. If the gasket were leaking there would probably be water on the floor. Are you sure you installed a matching flapper? See the link below.

https://www.homedepot.com/s/toilet%...


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#20
February 10, 2018 at 11:21:49
OtheHill grumbled:

> You didn't say you replaced the flapper valve.

First sentence of my third paragraph of my first reply to you,
reply #8:

> This started immediately after installing a brand-new flapper
> valve assembly ....

Back to OtheHill grumbling:

> If the gasket were leaking there would probably be water on the floor.

Yes, that's why I say I don't understand the geometry of the gasket.
By elimination of all other possibilities, it must be the gasket, and
clearly the water is leaking into the bowl, not anywhere else. I've
been thinking about putting some food coloring into the tank to
trace the leak. I haven't done it yet partly because I doubt it will
reveal anything useful. I expect the color to show up in the bowl,
but I probably won't get a better idea of the path it takes around
the gasket to get there. I do have bottles of food coloring.

> Are you sure you installed a matching flapper?

The flapper was part of a complete outlet valve assembly for a
3" outlet. Everything that was in the box got installed.

I bet more plumbers get electrocuted while fixing computers
than electricians drown while fixing toilets.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis


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#21
February 10, 2018 at 11:37:52
So, you replace the overflow/outlet fitting that the flapper sits on top of then? In that case, you may have an issue with the internal seal on the overflow/flapper fitting. The gasket goes on the inside the tank. The plastic nut on the bottom of the tank should be fairly tight. Then the rubbber gasket slips over the neck of the flush valve fully touching the tank. The new bolts are installed from the inside with a brass washer, then a rubber washer. Reverse that order on the bottom of the tank. Bolts should be alternately tightened until you have thee bottom of the tank touching the mating bumps on the toilet bowl. Then snug until rubber washers are compressed. Tightening excessively can result in a broken bowl.

Again, all you probably needed to do was replace the flapper. See the link below.

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Fluidma...

message edited by OtheHill


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#22
February 10, 2018 at 13:16:40
There was no flapper to replace. As I described, the previous
outlet valve assembly was probably part of the original toilet
installed in 2000, and was of a completely different design
(referred to as a "tower"), made mostly of white plastic, with
no flapper. Instead of a hinged flapper, it had parts that moved
vertically in a white plastic tube. They came apart when I
pushed the flush handle, and I spent days trying to figure out
how they fitted back together, or if they were broken. There
were no edges that looked broken. And I'm practically certain
that no part got lost down the drain. It is possible, though, that
some small part might have gone into the channel that goes
around the rim of the bowl. But that isn't relevant now....

AH! I found the leak just now!

When I stopped the flow of water into the tank, lifted the
flapper, and looked into the outlet, I saw the red edge of a
rubbery gasket sticking out along part of the circumference
of the hole, but not all the way around. Shining a flashlight
into the opening to get a better look at it, I immediately saw
dripping from the point on the circumference where the red
gasket becomes visible, a couple of inches down to the
bottom of the curving drain. I was hearing those drops.

The gasket is not the one I thought it was, under the tank,
but a much thinner one at the very bottom of the inside of
the tank, which clearly is the one OtheHill referred to
as going inside the tank.

I need to remove the tank, remove the big plastic nut that
holds the valve assembly in place, and adjust that gasket,
hoping it wasn't damaged by being off-center.

If I don't drown, I'll be back!

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

message edited by Jeff Root


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#23
February 10, 2018 at 17:00:13
I was at least partly wrong, about more than one thing.

The red gasket that I could see the inner edge of, around part
of the circumference of the outlet hole, is NOT the *relatively*
thin gasket at the bottom of the inside of the tank that OtheHill
referred to, but the big, thick gasket under the tank, the one I
suspected in the first place, that I couldn't see as I set the tank
into place, so was worried that it wasn't seated properly.

BUT -- even though that is where I finally found the dripping
water, it apparently is NOT the gasket that was causing the
drip. That appears to be the *relatively* thin gasket at the
bottom of the inside of the tank that OtheHill referred to.
Although it isn't particularly thin, and it is black, not red, and
it wasn't off-center or squished out of place. It now appears
most likely that I did not tighten the big plastic nut tightly
enough to compress the black gasket fully against the
bottom of the inside of the tank. Water seeped between the
black gasket and the bottom of the tank, then through the
big opening in the bottom of the tank, then on one side or
the other of the big plastic nut -- that is, either inside the nut,
through the threads of the nut and the plastic part that the
nut screws onto, or outside the nut, between the nut and the
big, thick red gasket. Then it dripped from the bottom edge
of either the plastic part with the threads or the red gasket.

So the solution appears to be to tighten the big plastic nut a
bit more so the black gasket is tighter against the bottom of
the inside of the tank.

Now watch me get electrocuted.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis


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#24
February 10, 2018 at 18:14:36
Not electrocuted. Not drowned. Potty seems to work.
No audible dripping sounds.

Give it time.

Thanks to all, especially grumpy old OtheHill. You were right.

Eventually.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis


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#25
February 11, 2018 at 03:21:32
Derek,
as a matter of interest, if you have the old Siphon, there may be a makers name on it, that would allow help identification of its diaphragm.
Regards - Mike

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#26
February 11, 2018 at 06:41:20
No matter Mike, it was some time back and I just replaced the lot. It wasn't too expensive, although I did have to do a bit of jiggling because nothing ever quite fits. No plumbers bills, just a few new words for the neighbours to get to grips with LOL.

Always pop back and let us know the outcome - thanks


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#27
February 11, 2018 at 07:58:35
One little detail I forgot to mention: At the last moment as
I was putting the outlet valve assembly back in, I noticed
a circle drawn in marker on the bottom outside of the tank,
concentric to the hole, which greatly helped guide me in
centering the assembly in the hole. That may have made
a significant difference in the fit of the inside gasket.

Hopefully, I'm done now.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis


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#28
February 11, 2018 at 11:31:44
Good luck then - hope it holds.

Always pop back and let us know the outcome - thanks


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