washers/cisterns

side entry inlet on cistern was slightly leaking. I undid the nut and could see a broken washer so after googling and studying I bought some fibre washers and screwed it all up and water rushed out of the back of the nut. I redid it lots and once it almost held before gushing out. I tried teflon tape but that was worse more googling and I wonder if I cross threaded the plastic pipe (how would I know visually?) Off I went and bought an isolator and fitted that even cutting the pipe myself! Now I could have my water on. Tomorrow I will have another go. Whats the odds of two fibre washers working? A rubber one? or will I need to buy a new fill valve?
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I presume the tail of the valve attached to the cistern is plastic. I also presume that it is the nut connecting the pipe to the fitting, not the nut holding the valve onto the cistern that is leaking. (If it was the nut holding the vakve ti the cistern then your problem would probably be the water level - a separate issue.)
Now if the pipe to the cistern and the nut are also plastic that is a different issue too - you probably need a new plastic nut and fitting.
But if the nut is metal and part of a so-called tap connector fixed to the pipe with a solder or compression fitting (and you presumably still have it on the cut off bit of pipe) then try screwing this nut and tap connector onto the plastic valve tail *without any washer*. If it screws up fairly smoothly by hand until the tap connector is held fairly tightly then you haven't cross threaded it and just check the flat surface of the end of the tap tail is not scratched or damaged (new valve, not too expensive, is needed if it is). And check the annular part of the tap connector on the pipe is nice and smooth where the washer goes. If so, it should really work if you get the right washer. It is a 1/2" (almost certainly) tap connector washer (not a tap washer) and is only about 1.5 mm wide so it fits inside the nut without interference and over the 15mm pipe. It is called 1/2" but the outside diameter is about 18mm. Historical reasons!
If however the nut of the tap connecter will not screw up tight on the plastic tail of the valve by hand, or at most with something to grip it but not needing a long spanner, then you need a new valve because it is cross threaded. Seeing you've cut the pipe I'd get a new valve and a new tap connector, and the relevant washers (for the joint to the cistern and for the tap connector) although they may be included I'd spend few pence for spares. With new parts it can't go wrong! Don't screw up the tap connector with a big spanner, finger tight plus a quarter of a turn max should do.
It will help if you confirm which parts are plastic and which metal, and the diameter of the pipe and the valve tail for the next person to answer.
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Roger Hayter

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On 10/11/2017 23:39, Roger Hayter wrote:

Thanks for your very informative reply It is a copper 15mm pipe screwing onto a plastic ballcock and arm , It was squeaking a lot as I screwed it on . In bed now so will check it all out tomorrow after work and will try it without the washer. The tap connector is an sort of right angled one and connected to the down pipe I cut with a seized on connector. probably need a vice to get it off which I don't have. I could I suppose cut a new piece of pipe to fit a new tap connector or thinking maybe use a flexible pipe I have in toolkit. Having plenty of spare parts is something I learned today that I should have kept in store.
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I'd dearly love to see a rubber washer for a (metal as opposed to plastic) tap connector. Where on earth do you get such a thing?
http://www.diydoctor.org.uk/projects/connectingtaps.htm
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Roger Hayter

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Don't you also have to make up circular punches to cut them? What thickness neoprene do you suggest and can I borrow your punches?
I don't for a moment suggest it is impossible, just that I've been unable find them on sale. Along with heat resistant drain-valve washers.
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Roger Hayter

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Given a fortnight and dire necessity I could probably make a circular punch. And even harden it perhaps! Traditionally used for leather, I wonder if you need to make a size adjustment to get the right size hole in neoprene?
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Roger Hayter

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That's useful to know. Have you tried a concentric dual punch for washers - might be better for very narrow ones?
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Roger Hayter

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On Sat, 11 Nov 2017 00:04:47 +0000, Roger Hayter wrote:

ISTR that when I fitted my new loo the connection was a face seal and a shower-hose rubber washer was OK. If the inlet is plastic the tightness is limited by he thread. To stop it squeaking/binding I used a thin smear of Bosswhite or similar, so that I didn't over/under tighten due to friction. It's been OK for about 8 years now.
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That works if you use a flexible hose, but is there a brass pipe fitting like that? I've only seen traditional tap connectors. And I'd use silicone on the plasic, I don't think the flexifble pipes ever work loose, and leakage isn't via the thread.
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Roger Hayter

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On 10/11/2017 23:51, bm wrote:

Cheers. My isolator is like a washing machine tap - compression fitting that stops water going through the pipe. I suspect the loud squeal I heard as I tightened the copper nut onto the plastic pipe was the crossthreading! It looked a bit lopsided but next time I kept it straight- however damage was probably done. I will probably buy a new fill valve as the old one is loud and doesn't cut off for a long time with drips for ten minutes after. I fitted one upstairs last year, it worked initially but now I have to lift the cistern lid and poke it to get it to work, not always, sometimes I can turn a tap on downstairs and it suddenly starts to fill upstairs. I am not too good at this plumbing game!
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In theory maybe it just needs a new washer (the one operated by the float) on valve but get a new one if there is doubt about getting it waterproof or cross threading. Do you do solder joints? if not I would get a new tap connector when you get the bits to repair the pipe you cut. alternatively you could use a flexible pipe. They do have rubber washers and you can get one with a compression fitting for your copper pipe at the other end. They are easy to get water proof (don't over tighten, just until it's water proof, somewat past finger tight at the valve end. Quarter turn at the compression joint end after just tight with a spanner.
As far as tthe valve upstairs that won't open when it's supposed to, does the float catch on anything in its movement? if so, slightly rotating the valve body (after slightly looseniing its fixing nuts and connector nut) or bending the float arm may help. Also if the movement of the float is not veritcal it may bind. Not much else to go wrong unless the valve is damaged.
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Roger Hayter

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On 11/11/2017 00:54, Roger Hayter wrote:
Do you do solder joints?
No. No yet ....
Anyhow popped back here to let you all know of my success today, a great sense of achievement when I had finished. It was a cross thread.I took the arm and ballcock out of the cistern which was difficult as the outer holding/spacer nut squeaked and stuck trying to get it off. I cleaned everything and tried a random nut and it went on the thread fine, I then tried the tap connector nut on a spare screw thing and it went on so that puzzled me. Then I put the originals together and I could see it was straight and fairly easy to screw on so I wondered if undoing the holding/spacer nut had cut a new thread. Anyway putting it all back it worked! no leak!
Thanks all for the advice.
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That's a very satisfactory outcome. Agree, taking the nut back over the thread is a standard way of cleaning up minor damage to a thread, say after cutting a bolt.. Very good job, and didn't cost too much! As a lesson, it shows the importance of being very careful not to cross thread especially plastic threads with a metal nut. Unless of course it was the person who originally put the nut on who cross threaded it, which is quite possible.
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Roger Hayter

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On Sun, 12 Nov 2017 23:46:30 +0000, Roger Hayter wrote:

Rather coincidentally, I've been having cistern problems the past couple of days. It's a conventional siphon flush cistern but low level (bottom of the cistern mounted about a foot or so above the toilet bowl rim). It had originally used a conventional ball cock filling system until I "upgraded" it (along with the downstairs toilet and the attic header tank) with "Fluidmaster"(tm) valves about 7 or 8 years ago. Actually, the one in the attic, afaicr, was a different brand but the same servo controlled valve system with a float riding up and down the stem pipe which muffles the sound of the discharge into the tank.
When I first fitted these filling valves to the downstairs shower room toilet and the half landing toilet. I was quite pleased with the initial result. Mind you, you have to carefully align them up to avoid the float fouling the siphon bell or cistern side - there's very little wriggle room.
All that aside, after maybe some 6 to 12 months of service, first one, then the other suddenly took to pissing water out of (what I assume to be) the air breaker vents, spraying jets between the top of the cisterns and their lids resulting in minor flooding. My solution was the rather pragmatic use of used aluminium pie cases as deflectors to divert the spray away from the gaps between the lids and their cisterns - a sort of "tinfoil hat" if you will.
About two years after the initial fit, we had the downstairs shower room completely revamped which resulted in the existing loo being scrapped. Luckily, I'd had the presence of mind to recover the Fluidmaster valve and store it back in its original packaging, instruction sheet and all, which I'd had the presence of mind to retain (I only kept one lot of packaging but one was enough). At the time, my family thought I was a little mad to be saving the valve from being scrapped but what do families know, eh?
Anyway, the one remaining Fluidmaster (with its tinfoil hat to make up for its major design flaw) performed pretty well flawlessly until almost a week ago when I found myself having to replace the flush handle on account of the hole on the clamped on rusty iron bar through which the brass siphon linkage hooked had rusted through becoming a slot, allowing the siphon linkage to escape. I'd have rotated the rusty cross bar to save on the expense of parts except for the fact that the only way to free it off involved a pair of bolt cutters and molegrips to break the clamp apart. It was sadly beyond redemption so I found myself at the "Plumb Centre" trade counter blowing the best part of a fiver on a replacement handle kit. I only mention this on account of the fun that followed a few days after successfully completing the repair.
The disturbance due to fixing the flush handle mechanism upset my finely moulded tinfoil hat spray deflector and the 'angle of dangle' of the fluidmaster which took me a few days to settle down (as I prematurely thought). I was having difficulty in readjusting to avoid failed refills and failed shut offs.
Eventually, I gave up on the tinfoil hat and tried wrapping the air breaker vents with SA tape. This actually seemed to do the trick without apparent compromise to the valve's operation, leading me to wonder why such an air break had been deemed necessary in the first place (a question to which, even now, I'm still not quite sure of the answer[1]).
Anyhow, two or three days later, having got used to the occasional need to encourage the fluidmaster valve to admit water, I discovered the half landing toilet floor awash due to the valve sticking on a few minutes after my missus had flushed it. I could see water escaping from the overflow joint as well as a copious leak past the flush handle spindle (added to by the water level overtopping the back of the cistern which was, for no good reason, cursed by a 15mm reduction of the rim height over a section of about 4 or 5 cms slap bang in the middle.
My first concern was the massive overflow drainage failure followed by, not only that but badly sealed joint of same into the cistern and the woefully inadequate flush handle spindle seal. Only then did I ponder the fill valve failure which, in normal circumstances wouldn't be considered a major fail when you have an effective overflow outlet to make the system completely 'failsafe'.
When I disassembled the overflow pipework to check for blockages, I noted the use of a single thin polyethylene washer on the external face with a thick coating of what looked like some jointing compound (Boss White?) slapped over the plastic retaining nut. The overflow pipe was as clean as a whistle so I cleaned the gunk off the outlet threads discarded the polyethylene washer and fitted a rubber washer under the retaining nut to properly seal the connection.
The problem with the overflow is simply that it can't cope with the binary operation of a Fluidmaster when it fails to shut off the flow due to a lack of fall in the 2 foot of overflow pipe which has to pass through a solid one foot thick brick wall (Victorian built property). I've no doubt it would have been able to cope with the dribble of a conventional ball cock valve which tends to fail to entirely shut off rather fail stuck in full flow.
Anyway, by taking the appropriate care in refitting the plastic overflow parts and fit an actual sealing washer where it counts, on the inside. I'd eliminated just one of the annoying leaks that only happen under 'failsafe' conditions. I then had to see what, if anything could be done about my recently purchased flush handle and its rather pissy spindle bearing. In short, nothing could be done so I looked to the original flush handle which I'd kept hold of (the rusted through bar and its wrecked clamp I'd consigned to the garbage but the actual handle looked retrievable so considered worth hanging onto - I hate burning my boats).
The 'corrosion' on the spindle was essentially lime scale, presumably it had been forged out of chrome steel, unlike the attached bar and clamp, so it took just 5 or 10 minutes to dress it up with a file and some wire wool. It didn't need to look pretty, just smoothed down enough to push into the rectangular hole in the plastic siphon operating lever from the new flush handle kit. The old handle spindle was a much better fit in its nylon bearing, enough to reduce the copious pissing down to more of a weep.
At this point, I could see that the overflow simply couldn't cope with a stuck on Fluidmaster, however, after scrutinising the instruction leaflet and the spare valve, I hoped against hope that I'd removed the flow restrictor when I'd fitted it to compensate for the reduced pressure of a half landing toilet location compared to the downstairs toilet which I remembered specifically fitting (or, as it turned out, not removing). Unfortunately, reducing the flow by refitting the flow restrictor wasn't an option since it hadn't been removed in the first place.
If needs must, I reckon I can fill in some of the restrictor fluting with hot melt glue to further reduce the flow rate to a point where the existing overflow can cope. However, I'm thinking of filling in the low section at the back of the cistern with some sort of epoxy filler to raise the over-topping level another half inch or so to increase the overflow drainage rate. If it works, I'll still have to contend with the dribble of leakage from the flush handle bearing. I might be able to fix this with application of a very thick nylon friendly grease. I guess I should google for the grease resistant properties of nylon (I know the standard lubricant for nylon bearings is water but, for obvious reasons, this is not an option).
One of the major issues with Sunday's bout of 'plumbing work' was the lack of a seperate isolator valve to save me having to run up and down the stairs between the toilet and the basement stop cock. I've dug out a brand new, unused half inch valve which proves to be blessed with 15mm olives (14.98mm ID according to my Workzone electronic caliper) which matches the 15mm (actually 15.08mm OD according to the same caliper) pipework feeding the cistern.
I think my very next job is to install this valve before doing any more 'experimental' work on eliminating the flooding hazard of a stuck on Fluidmaster valve. I'll be able to use it to restrict the flow by way of an experiment to prove whether such a remedy would render the system failsafe with the existing overflow setup. The result might see me fitting an old fashioned ballcock valve which does at least, fail to stop the flow in a more overflow friendly fashion. Upgrading the overflow to cope with a Fluidmaster valve failure would require drilling another exit hole in the wall at a 45 degree angle in order to speed the flow sufficiently to avoid being overwhelmed by valve failure of the Fluidmaster kind.
[1] I landed up using the spare Fluidmaster valve which I'd modified by drilling a passage via the blind small bore plastic hose connector (think windscreen washer hose nipple) that was present on the blue plastic 'air breaker' top and sealed the vents with careful application of hot melt glue as an alternative to my use of SA tape on the original valve.
Initially, I didn't fit the short 5 inches or so of plastic tubing that I thought might be needed when I turned the water supply back on which proved to be a mistake since despite the greater throw across almost the whole width of the cistern, the resulting jet of water was enough to raise enough spray to soak the toilet seat (cistern lid off) in the minute it took me to return from the basement stopcock.
That problem was solved swiftly enough using a short length of curved windscreen wash tubing to divert the flow at an angle against the side of the cistern and deflect it downwards into the water. That dead ended plastic hose connector 'ornament' on the blue plastic 'air breaker' had been a constant source of puzzlement. Having a 'spare' to experiment on gave me the luxury of drilling the blockage out to verify my suspicion that it did indeed offer an alternative 'venting' route, allowing me to block the original vents without fear of upsetting what may or may not have been a vital part of the valve's operation.
Presumably this 'air breaker' incorporates a one way valve to prevent spray back. It's rather unfortunate that my experience with two examples of this valve type have led me to conclude that its design left rather too much to be desired, ie reliability. However, blocking the vents and drilling out the pipe connection does offer a reasonably neat work around to this annoying shortcoming. Presumably, there must have been some reason why the design included such a venting route, subsequently one has to assume, to be superceded by the 'spray back' prone vent ports.
The important lesson from this experience is that anyone upgrading from a conventional 'tried and tested' ball cock float valve to one of these new fangled servo operated float valves is to make sure that the overflow can cope with the effects of a shut off failure.
--
Johnny B Good

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AMI the vents at the top, like the common collapsible down tube, are probably to prevent back siphonage. This is necessary to meet water regulations. So your mods probably make it illegal. Personally I would not lose an enormous amount fo sleep over this, just for interest, as I say.
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Roger Hayter

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On Mon, 13 Nov 2017 10:14:43 +0000, Roger Hayter wrote:

Well, the simple act of sealing off the vents with SA tape would certainly have made it non-compliant but the more considered drilling and hot melt glue mod to the spare unit would appear to have kept it all legit.
My best guess for the adornment of a non-functional tubing nipple is that the design was altered to save the cost of the drilling out stage[1] and the additional expense of a piece of plastic tubing. Indeed, the reason as to why the tubing nipple still existed is most likely because it's easier to machine out an existing mould to incorporate the extra vents just above what must have been the original domed top and the minuscule savings in plastic feedstock costs not considered worth the expense of making a new mould from scratch. Any additional internal changes to accommodate a one way anti-spray valve would most likely would have involved changes to a separate smaller plastic moulding used to complete the final build.
[1] Second guessing here but it's entirely possible that there wasn't a drilling out stage to begin with. The 'gallery' may have been moulded in from the start and all that was required to 'blank it off' was a minor grinding back of the corresponding spigot used in the mould.
Whatever the reason for such an adornment, you can stake your life that it was driven by economics. A case of let's not burn our boats just yet before we've proved that what looks like an elegant design solution on the drawing board doesn't turn out to be a white elephant out in the real world. The fact that the one way anti spray back valves failed so early on lends some credence to the belief that it was a design at the early stages of its transition to a nippleless version.
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Johnny B Good

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On 10/11/2017 22:56, Cherie Plum wrote:

My guess is that pipe and inlet are not truly square to each other when starting the nut tightening. Either forcefully pull the pipe up/down/sideways before starting to square it up. Alternatively loosen the plastic inlet pipe at the point where it enters the cistern to give more 'wriggle room' and once the assembly is joined tighten up everything you have loosened.
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If its one of theme there plastic ones, junk it and get a really good one. Also make sure you get the one for the pressure of water, not as my plumber did, a high pressure on for a loft tank gravity fed one, as this sounds a bit like a babbling brook and now takes 10 minutes to fill. Brian
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