Plumbing in the Home/toilet repair


QUESTION: Hi Louie...thanks so much for your help. It is very much appreciated by me.  The toilet tank fills up with water & then upon pressing the handle down to flush, there's water leaking from the back area where the tank & seat meet in the middle.  Is there a wax seal there that joins the two parts together & might need to be replaced?  Or is it something else?  The fixture was installed about 15 yrs ago by the previous owner. Again, much thanks for your advice.

ANSWER: Yepparooo.  There is a gasket there.  And it's NOT really universal, though you wouldn't know that by going somewhere, as they ALL SAY UNIVERSAL.  It's called a tank to bowl gasket or a tank to bowl kit (has gasket and bolts), but, ya know, that's a tougher job than it looks...

Even still TODAY I put them all back together and they leak.....take them back apart, back together....leaks....Reason is that "FIT ALL" gasket is NOT A FIT ALL.  It can be quite the job. So be prepared for a battle.

Also, there are MANY of them that are ONLY going to work model specific, to say that a universal will not work period.  Depends on model/manufacturer.  MOST of them will work with a universal, SOME of them no way at ALL. Send me the make and model and I will let you know if the universal will work.  Look inside tank, will be numbers and words printed.  On the toilet also behind seat, exposed, should be a name.

So sorry, but may be tonight before I can respond back, taking off now and won't be back till much later.

Good leak.  I mean good luck..

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QUESTION: Hi again's the name: Briggs.  Model # 1920-1.5   gpf/571 _?(looks like a B).  82A   date: Apr 19,1994. Would it be more economical to buy a brand new toilet instead & if so, then what model would you recommend? Also, please tell me if after the hot water tank is drained for maintenance reasons, is there a cap that should go on the valve stem or not?  There was a little drip so the plumber put a washing machine hose on there. Is that ok to do?  Again, all my thanks for your help.  I enjoyed your humor too!! lol

ANSWER: Hmmmm.  Well it would appear that I cannot locate a model 1920 for a Briggs toilet as I searched on google :(  Anyway at all you could send me a picture of it?  I only asked for a model to save you the trouble of sending a pic :)

You have to realize, after fixing plumbing for 35 plus years, day in and day out, I just glance at it and know what to do and what parts they take.  The days of knowing or caring about model numbers came and went in the novice days of plumbing.

Funny as I just hired a guy who claimed he was a "seasoned repair tech" and everytime I sent him somewhere, he kept sending me model numbers of everything in the world and saying what is this and where can I get it?  So I knew right off he wasn't what I needed.  A seasoned plumber couldn't tell you a model number from an airplane for the life of him...i know that SEEMS weird.  But it's not. Reconition is what we go by.

Any hoot, back ot your issues at hand and newfound issue.  Cap on drain valve for water heater? NOPE, left to be open, cause it's an on/off valve so when off, it doesn't leak, so then why cap it?  But eveidently it wouldn't stay off when turned off and the lazy mans way to deal with it was I guess, he put a washing machine hose on it???  But how did he clamp off the other end of the washing machine hose to stop it from leaking???  Are you saying it's still leaking he just divereted the water with the hose to an outside location???  I hope not....I would have stiff words for the monkey.  Please explain in more detail, but bottom line, NO CAP, NO HOSE, NO nothing.  Just turn it off and it stops dripping, like any other faucet in the house.

IF YOU HAVE THE KNOWLEDGE AND SKILL to install a new toilet, its always the best way to go, ONLY because they have gotten so cheap over the years, it's more cost effective for my customers to sell them on a new toilet.  Why?

$125 for a new toilet and we charge $175 to install it, so $300 and it's over AND you have a new toilet.  The other way, We charge $225 for a major toilet rebuild (ALL NEW PARTS EVERYWHERE)  Again, so for another $75 you get a new one :)  That also tell you that I can install a new toilet faster then I can rebuild an old one :)  Keep that in mind as you take on this task.

NOTHING is more frustrating then to go through all that work and when you're all done, flushing it and seeing that SAME leak come out again.  UUUUGGGGGGGG.  But it is MUCH cheaper if you do it yourself,. $15 in parts and it's over.

So, if you really want to do this, and save money, then a pic is truly the only way I can REALLY help you.  I am just sooooo afraid I will give you the steps to how to do it, just to find out you have this weird, tank to bowl gasket that can't be had locally!!!!  And MAKE SURE that was the right model number, as I went to Briggs site and they just didn't show anything with a 1920.  They were mostly higher numbers.  I am attaching the link for you.

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QUESTION: Hi Louie....after checking the Briggs link, I think the model # could possibly be 4920 because the 4 could have faded into a "1" after the 20 yrs its been in my bathroom filled with hard water!! lol  That seems to be what happened.  But I am not sure which way to go since my water company has, in the past, offered a rebate to customers who bought new water-saving toilets, so I will give them a call later to see if that offer is still in effect.  AS for the hot water tank drain valve, the plumber said there was a slight leak coming out so I thought a cap had originally been on it, so since he didn't have any that fit, he figured the hose would suffice. The other end has a plastic sleeve on it & the leak is so very minor that no significant amount of water is accumulating in the hose. It is just curled up & sitting in the tray.  I just wanted to ask you if that was dangerous if it was capped off (if vapors needed to escape or something that could cause an explosion).  Otherwise, I will just leave it as it is until it needs to be flushed out again next year.  I will get back to you after I decide what to do.  I cannot take a photo since my space is all filled up on the computer to store any photos & also I am not even sure how to do that!! lol  Also, can you please tell me what brand of toilet you recommend to be a reliable product with good water-saving features but also reasonbly priced?  Again, thanks for your advice.

Go to any hardware store and get a cap.  Same cap you would use to cap off an outside faucet.  It's just a brass or plastic cap with a washer in it.  Just tell them you want an outside faucet cap.  No, doesn't hurt to cap it at all. But ANY leak, no matter how small, can always turn into a larger keep an eye on it from time to time.

Rebate?  Sounds good to me :)  Just keep in mind that the old toilet you have is HIGHLY sought after.  Could even sell it.  All new toilets are 1.6 gallon flush, compared to the oldie but goodie 3.5 and some were 4.5.  What that means to you is a much higher chance of clogging it up.  Double flushes in the middle of.....well you get the point, is not a bad idea.

In short, your plunger will get used a lot more often and you will learn to have a lifelng love affair with it in time.  But little you can do.  Still, keep that in mind before you make the switch.  IF you go new, let me know, I'll tell you how to jazz it up to give you a better than was intended flush out of it :)

No matter what people, experts, or sales people tell you, ignore them all and their so called wisdom, a toilet is a toilet is a toilet.  You will read and google that's not true....but it is.

Get what you like and you're good to go.  Personally, we always use a PROFLO.  That's a Ferguson Plumbing supply toilet made by Briggs, but labeled for their brand, PROFLO.  Cheap too!!!  About $80 for a regular round, $115 for an elongated and $150 for a handicapped model which is much taller and most people like now-a-days.

Ummmmmmmm, that's right, it's a "comfort height", not a handicapped.  Cuz, ya know, handicapped people get upset if you actually call them handicapped, so the politically correct term is now comfort height...even though the actual code book CALLS IT HANDICAPPED!!!!  Crazy world we live in....

Fergusons is nationwide and there may be one by you.  If not, anything fine, just stay clear of the MUCHO CHEAPO toilets at Lowes, like the $99 toilet in a box to go.  They will flush fine, but very thin china and cheap toilet that can crack easily.  Other than that, go with anything.

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Louie The Plumber


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I am a 35 year Master Repair Plumber. I have owned my own repair company for over 20 years. My company has been the number one rated company on Angie's List for 5 years in a row. I have received the Angie's List Super Service Award for 5 years in a row. We are also the mosted rated company. We have almost a straight A rating across the board (99%) A's.

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