Plumbing in the Home/Solving my toilet leak

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QUESTION: Dear Mr. Ambler,

I know you hate brand specific questions, but here goes.  About 5 years ago, I bought a Barclay Victorian High Tank toilet.  It's a reverse-trap toilet with a brass elbow entering the rear of the bowl.  I love the aesthetics of it, but sometimes its performance can be lackluster and require a few flushes to get everything to go down.  So yesterday at Lowe's I purchased a Keeney FlushAll flush valve.  It has a 3-inch flapper and funnels down to a 2-inch opening to give 40% better flushing performance.  Well it worked well,  a little too well I'm afraid.  Because of the increased pressure it caused all the brass joints in the down pipe to spring leaks.  I tightened everything back up and put back the old flush valve.  Now the only place it leaks is at the spud going into the back of the toilet.  I've tightened all the threads but it still drips.  Is there anything I can do with the rubber seal around the spud to keep it from leaking?  I thought maybe heating it with a hairdryer?  Any info would be much appreciated.  Thanks.

- Karl

ANSWER: Dear Karl,

It does keep things interesting to consider different types of problems and this one is unique.  Also, rather than being brand specific your question goes to the general principals and mechanics of the toilet in question.

So anyway, the spud washer needs to seal the interface between the porcelain of the toilet and the pipe bringing the water to the bowl.  It needs slight pressure to form the seal, but almost more importantly it needs clean smooth surfaces to press against.

I would check the surfaces and ensure that they are thoroughly clean. Then you might wish to apply a thin coating of petroleum jelly to the surface of the spud.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you for your advice.  One more question - I bought a product at Home Depot called Amazing Goop.  It comes in a purple tube and says it's a contact adhesive and sealant.  Do you have any experience with this product?  Should I try this or use the petroleum jelly first?  It only drips about 5 or 6 drops per flush.  

- Karl

Answer
Dear Karl,

I am against using any type of adhesive sealant on rubber gaskets or washers... I'll tell you though that there are others who disagree with me.

If there is water seeping around a gasket like the spud, then there is at least one place that the spud is not sealing the gap.  If cleaning it up and sanding the opening doesn't fix it, then often something like petroleum jelly, wax or plumber's putty will seal those gaps without damaging the gasket material or making it harder to seal later on with bits stuck to the porcelain or other opening.

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Thomas Ambler

Expertise

I am experienced at troubleshooting and solving all types of plumbing problems. Issues related to specific manufacturers fixtures and specifications though are beyond my field of expertise. I have dealt with problems in both rural and urban areas, and with water supply and drainage systems. Plumbing issues can be very obscure... such as odors, stains or occasional seepage. I have even had to chase rats from a customer's sewer line.

Experience

I have 25 years experience dealing with plumbing systems (which also includes hot water and steam heating systems). My main expertise is in diagnosing and solving problems. I have worked in construction and installation of new systems but do not regard myself as an expert in that area.

Publications
Asbury Park Press, Seattle Times, Denver Post.

Education/Credentials
I completed high school and one year of college. I served 4 years in the Marine Corps and have education in electronic and electrical troubleshooting and repair. I have attended classes on installing and repair of oil burners, and I have EPA universal certification for air conditioning and refrigeration. I am now enrolled as a full-time student at Everest college to re-train for a new career. Any donations of financial support would be greatly appreciated.

Past/Present Clients
All of Denny's Restaurants in NJ, Several Burger King stores, I have done work at two different homes for Bruce Springsteen. I have also worked for Jim Johnson (of J&J) and his family, Whitney Houston, Steve Forbes and many others.

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