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Question DetailsAsked on 9/9/2017

Lost water in toilet tank. kept refilling, turned water supply off, now no water flows into it. bad valve/flapper?

I'm losing water in my Kohler toilet tank. it was constantly refilling so I had closed the water supply off until flapper was replaced. Now when I turn on the toilet water supply, no water flows into the tank!? It makes a hissing noise, there isn't any water in the tank yet, is this a gravity issue? I am concerned the water supply won't work once I replace the flapper and clean the gasket seat. Toilet hasn't been repaired in 20 years.Please advise!

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1 Answer


Unless you are at the bottom of a black hole or on the Starship Enterprise and the artificial gravity generators are on the blink again, not a gravity problem.

Assuming this is a conventional tank-type toilet (not pressure-assist), could be one of several things:

1) water supply valve broke when you shut it off and did not actually open internally when you turned it back on - check if it shuts tight or maybe the handle spins on the shaft

2) fill valve got some grit in it when you shut off and turned the water valve so is not letting the water through (not uncommon in 20 year toilet and flex line)

3) float got stuck/hung up so it is not turning the fill valve in the tank on

After making sure the supply valve is on (full counterclockwise), try gently moving the float to see if you can jiggle it into dropping or to get it unhung (may have gotten bumped or its slide rod may have gotten a bit bent when changing the flapper) so it drops to its normal empty-tank position (typically about 1/3 of way from bottom of tank).

If float is down, trying lifting and lowering full range of movement up and down a couple of times - this will exercise the fill valve and commonly will get it working again if some debris plugged it. One other way to fre the fill valve up (sometimes) is when the supply valve flex tubing is disconnected (next item below) remove the bowl refill tube from the top of the standpipe (just clipped on), wipe it clean, and blow through the tubing to force air back through the fill valve the "wrong way" - a spoonfull of water or so may spray out the bottom of the fill valve at the flex tubing connection so have a towel under it - but sometimes that will blow out grit that got in it from using the supply valve for the first time in 20 years. Generally, when blowing through it, the float has to be below the top of its travel range a ways - not topped out, because that shuts the valve completely.

If that does not do it, turn the supply valve back off (full clockwise), then (CAREFULLY in case the valve did not turn full off) unscrew the flex tubing from the fill valve stubout at the bottom of the tank. Avoid flexing the tubing much because if old it can break easily, especially if metal spiral flex tubing. Should be no more flow than maybe a tablespoon full of water come out (as the pressure is relieved) as you are unthreading the fitting and it starts getting loose, ready to come off. If more than a fraction of a second of a flow or spray as you loosen it then supply valve is on and retighten. If not, carefully, with bucket or such under the free end of it, turn the supply valve on a bit (hold a washcloth or such over the end loosely as a drape so it can't jet across the bathroom, and instead dribbles intot the bucket or whatever you are catching the water with) and see if water comes out freely - if so, then supply valve is working OK and the fill valve is the problem, so turn supply valve off and hook flex tubing back up.

One other possibility on the fill valve - check if the hissing is water coming out of the bowl refill tube - connects to the top of the standpipe at the back of the tank, to refill the bowl (so water would be coming out into the bowl if this is happening) after it flushes. This refill tube flows after the float has come up high enough that the tank is full (hits the tank-full level) but continues to flow for a bit as the float rises to full height. If this is happening but tank is empty, with a very few models (don't know if Kohler has this or not) you have to hit the flush handle again to release the float so it can drop down. Or check if it is hung up near the top.

If not a supply problem and moving the float up and down (or freeing it up) does not do the job, then pretty much has to be the supply valve - actually quite an easy thing to replace with a repair kit, for most brands, using a kit from FluidMaster (my favorite) or Plumbshop or such. It fits through a hole in the bottom of the tank (with a gasket to seal it there) and the flex tubing from the supply valve threads onto it - do not have to remove tank or its mounting bolts or anything or any other water-sealing item.

Otherwise, Plumber who, while he is there, might as well replace the entire mechanism (flapper and fill valve too) because sometimes the flapper itself (usually easily replaceable) is not the problem - it can also be the base seal on the flapper or outflow plunger assembly leaking, letting water escape from around the base of the flapper base/standpipe tower into the bowl. If that needs replacing the tank has to be taken off so you are replacing three seals (tank to toilet and a couple of mounting bolts to the toilet base, typically) - not something most DIY homeowners want to try to do, especially alone, because drop the tank and break it and/or the base and you have a bigger problem on your hands. Typically about $100-150 labor and about $25-40 parts to replace all the parts inside the tank.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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