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Old 09-10-2009, 05:27 AM   #1
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Leaking tank-to-bowl bolts on toilet


A 30 year old Gerber toilet in our home started dripping water from one of the tank-to-bowl bolts after the toilet was removed and reinstalled intact as part of a new floor installation. Upon dissambly of the old bolts I discovered the steel washer under the head of one bolt inside the tank had corroded significantly causing the dripping.

A new bolt and gasket set was purchased at a big box store, then discovered to be 100% junk! All fasteners were steel with a brass coating - a guarantee of future leaks and disassembly trouble.

I cleaned off the old brass bolts (real brass), bought new brass washers, new brass nuts, but used the new resiliant washers (appear to be vinyl and not rubber) from the worthless kit I purchased. Oh, the tank to bowl gasket in this kit was far too thin and not usable either!

Now I can't get the bolts to stop dripping!

My plan is to buy old fashioned rubber tank-to-bowl washers and replace the vinyl appearing ones. I will also scrub the inside bottom of the tank again just to be sure there is no old corrosion preventing a proper seal.

Any other suggestions? Thanks.

BTW - I hate to buy plumbing parts from the big box stores, but the small places with quality parts close too early. I will be buying the new rubber washers from a REAL plumbing supply store.

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Old 09-10-2009, 06:29 AM   #2
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Leaking tank-to-bowl bolts on toilet


You are correct about steel parts, I don't understand why they even sell them. Use the new vinyl washers, but wrap a bit of plumbers putty under each. Usually works for me.

But consider replacing that old toilet, it is a water hog, and probably not as good as a new one due to years of calcium build up. Kohler makes good ones, American Standard advertises theirs will flush a bucket of golf balls on 1.6 gal, and Gerber is still in business. Avoid cheap big box brands.

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Old 09-10-2009, 07:31 AM   #3
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Leaking tank-to-bowl bolts on toilet


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But consider replacing that old toilet, it is a water hog, and probably not as good as a new one due to years of calcium build up. Kohler makes good ones, American Standard advertises theirs will flush a bucket of golf balls on 1.6 gal, and Gerber is still in business. Avoid cheap big box brands.
We replaced one of the old Gerbers with an A-S Cadet III two years ago. Works great! Much better than the toilet it replaced.

The toilet I am currently fighting with still works fine and has no calcium build-up (courtesy of award winning city water), although it is a 3.5 gallon flush. I thought we would replace it as part of the flooring project since it had to be removed anyway, but my budget watching wife wanted to wait a bit longer. With only 2 of us in the house the additional water consumption of this fixture is actually pretty minimal.
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Old 09-10-2009, 08:59 AM   #4
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Leaking tank-to-bowl bolts on toilet


I would think that omitting the metal washer would give a better seal. This would depend on how small the bolt hole was in the porcelain tank so as not to have the rubber or plastic washer deform a lot as you tighten the bolt.

Without the metal washer you have metal (bolt) against rubber (good seal) and rubber against porcelain (good seal). Assuming the rubber washer wasn't deformed too much.

With the metal washer you have metal bolt against metal washer (possible poor seal), metal washer against rubber (good seal) and rubber against porcelain (good seal). You would be relying on squishing the rubber enough to hug the bolt shank to improve the seal.

In all cases you must not tighten the bolts too much or you may crack the bottom of the tank or the flaps on the back of the bowl. The plastic washers seem to need more bolt tightening to achieve a good seal.

Ideally the bolt should have a bigger head to get a good seal on the rubber washer without deforming the latter down into the hole in the porcelain below. You might be able to put a small rubber washer (sold separately) on the bolt head first, then use the large metal washer and other parts provided with the kit.
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Last edited by AllanJ; 09-10-2009 at 09:05 AM.
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Old 09-10-2009, 01:20 PM   #5
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Leaking tank-to-bowl bolts on toilet


THE VERY BEST WAY TO GET NO LEAKS IS TO BUY A SECOND KIT !

DO THE PUTTY THING THEN PUT A EXTRA RUBBER, METAL WASHER AND NUT ON THE BOTTOM OF THE TANK !

I GUERNTEE NO LEAKS
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Old 09-10-2009, 01:32 PM   #6
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Leaking tank-to-bowl bolts on toilet


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THE VERY BEST WAY TO GET NO LEAKS IS TO BUY A SECOND KIT !

DO THE PUTTY THING THEN PUT A EXTRA RUBBER, METAL WASHER AND NUT ON THE BOTTOM OF THE TANK !

I GUERNTEE NO LEAKS
My standard method for bolts, washers and nuts!

I purchased 6 new rubber washers this morning (actually appear to be urethane rather than rubber, but more flexible than the ones I installed two nights ago) and a new tub of Plumber's Putty from the Plumbing Supply store located across the street from where I work.

I should not have bought the parts at the Big Box store over the weekend but waited until I could get them from these guys!

While there I got a quote for an American-Standard Cadet III, round front, two piece, standard height, white color. Just in case the problem with my 30 year old Gerber is more than leaky bolt gaskets. This toilet from the Pro's is no more expensive than the Big Box stores, but these guys have all the parts in stock!
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Old 10-17-2009, 11:48 AM   #7
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Leaking tank-to-bowl bolts on toilet


The bolt kit I bought (from the local hardware store) had two rubber gaskets, two metal washers, a nut and a wing nut.

The diagram on the package showed the order as:

bolt head
rubber gasket
metal washer
nut
metal washer
rubber gasket
wing nut

My first question is, where, in that assemblage, do the porcelain layers go?
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Old 10-17-2009, 07:49 PM   #8
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Leaking tank-to-bowl bolts on toilet


My guess:

Bolt
Rubber gasket (to achieve seal)
Porcelain tank bottom
Metal washer (for nut to rest on)
(regular) Nut (to achieve seal above)
Porcelain bowl flange
Rubber gasket (for cushioning)
Metal washer (for nut to rest on)
Wing nut

It is possible for the nut in the middle to loosen up as the tension on the bolt is increased using the wing nut. You should be able to reach in between the tank and bowl with a thin wrench to retighten this nut against the parts above. Again, do not overtighten anything.
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Last edited by AllanJ; 10-17-2009 at 07:53 PM.
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Old 10-18-2009, 08:29 AM   #9
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Leaking tank-to-bowl bolts on toilet


In my opinion, not replacing the tank to bowl gasket will come back to haunt you, and may have already. Once you disassemble the tank and bowl, the gasket should always be replaced.

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