LESLIE: Now we welcome Mary from Delaware who listens to The Money Pit on WDEL and she wants to talk about replacing toilet fixtures. This is Tom. He loves toilet repair questions. (Tom chuckles)
How can we help?
MARY: I have a question. How do you know when the insides of a toilet have to be changed?
LESLIE: Tom says every year.
MARY: Every year. And what do I look for when I go to buy one and do you think I can install it myself?
TOM: You may very well be able to. It’s really not that hard to do. The flush valve and the fill valve are inexpensive; you know, $10 or $15. The flush valve is the flapper in the bottom of the toilet and the fill valve, of course, is what let’s the water in. Pretty simple operation because all you need to do is to turn off the water at the valve behind the toilet. As long as that valve is free and turns off successfully – and you can figure that out by turning it off and then flush the toilet –if the toilet does not refill, then that’s great; the water’s off. Now you can go ahead and disconnect the fill and flush valve.
You know, there’s a good website from the manufacturer of one of those valves; it’s Fluidmaster.com. They’ve got a little movie on their website that shows you step by step exactly how to make that repair and it’s really not hard to do.
And I’ll give you one more little tip on that, Mary, and that is if you want to figure out if the flush valve is leaking – sometimes you get ghost flushing where the toilet just flushes on its own. But if you want to test it and see if it’s leaking, what you can do is you open the back of the toilet tank up, put some food coloring in there, close the tank and then wait about 15 or 20 minutes and look in the bowl. If the water in the bowl has turned the color of the food coloring, that means that the flush valve is leaking and needs to be replaced.
But if you replace your toilet parts every one to two years, the toilet should maintain in perfect working order and not leak.
MARY: Oh, OK. Well look, I think you’ve answered my question. But do I look for an expensive one or a medium-priced one or – what do I look for?
TOM: They’re not very expensive. I would go out and buy one by the Fluidmaster company. They’re available in any home center. It’s the largest brand in America for that. It comes in a green box, instructions inside, or more information at Fluidmaster.com. Easy to do.
Mary, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.