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Why is one of my toilets incredibly noisy? It's an old toilet, but it has worked just fine until recently.

Some new pressure assisted toilets are noisy enough to frighten a small child, and there isn't much that can be done to alleviate that problem. But with older toilets the parts in the tank are probably suffering from fatique. The noises vary from sounding like a cry, a moan, or a horn to a whistle or scream. The sounds will not damage your toilet, but they are extremely annoying. To eliminate the noise you need to fix or replace the fill valve.

"A good question is a powerful thing" from TV show Beakman's World

Question: Why doesn't water enter the bowl when I try to flush my toilet? A: If you are certain that the water supply is turned on, carefully remove the lid to the toilet tank and you will probably find that the chain or strap to the flapper has broken or come loose.

Question: What Kind of Toilet Paper Should I Use?

A: There are not many toilet papers on the market, if any, that can't safely be used in a septic system. Toilet paper breaks down very easily and quickly, and that's the important part. However, facial tissue (Kleenex) and paper towels do NOT break down easily, and should never be flushed down a toilet. University of Maryland, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Question: Can rats really come through a toilet?

A: A picture is worth a thousand words. View the video: See for yourself..

Or if you'd rather not see the evidence, you can read another tale of woe in the Toronto Sun .

Question: What causes condensation on the outside of a toilet tank, and is there any way to stop it from forming?

A: Condensation on the outside of a toilet tank is the result of humid air in the room coming in contact with the cold tank. You´ve seen this happen on a glass filled with a cold drink. Condensation on a toilet tank is most often a problem in the summer in humid climates; but can also be a problem in winter. Houses on well water suffer a great deal from this problem. Houses built beginning in the '70s are more air-tight and energy efficient, consequently humidity is easily trapped indoors

Here are a few more causes/solutions: (pay particular attention to the first suggestion).

IS the toilet leaking? A constant exchange of fresh cold water in the tank will cause condensation to form on the outside of the tank when the humidity is high in the bathroom. Check the toilet for leaks.

Is there enough ventilation in the bathroom? You may need to install an exhaust fan.

In winter, the condensation may be caused by using a humidifier on your heating system; if so, can the humidifier be adjusted?

Toilet tank liner kits are available to insulate the tank, check your local hardware store or home center. You must follow the directions carefully regarding cementing the foam to a clean, dry surface. Even then, the foam will probably loosen after a few years.

Some manufacturers used to make toilet tanks that had a foam liner; I don´t know if they still do or not. The factory installed foam also came loose after a number of years of use. Toilet tank drip tray

I've seen drip trays advertised in one of those gadget type catalogs that fit under the tank. One type has sponges that absorb the condensation and the other has a tube that drains accumulated condensation into a container that sits on the floor under the toilet.

Some people claim that using a furry tank cover on the tank helps to prevent the condensation from dripping off the tank. I can't vouch for this however.

Water Tempering Valve

Then there are "tempering valves" available that supposedly allow a little bit of water from the hot water supply line to trickle into the cold line. When I tried this, it didn't work, because the hot water line was usually not hot when you first flushed the toilet. By the time the hot water got up to the area of the toilet, the toilet was finished flushing. If the hot water heater was closer to the toilet, it probably would have worked.

Question: This interesting fact was just brought to my attention a few weeks ago. Did you know that in the Northern Hemisphere the water in a toilet goes down counter clockwise and in the Southern Hemisphere it goes down clockwise? I found this to be absurd, but sure enough that is how it works. Do you know the scientific explanation for this? If so let me know. I can't think of any reason why this is true. Aloha C.O. in Honolulu.

A:The phenomenon you asked about is referred to as the "Coriolis effect or force" after the scientist who first discussed the force created by the earth's rotation acting upon anything moving above the earth's surface by causing it to curve to the right in the Northern Hemisphere and to the left in the Southern Hemisphere. HOWEVER: I have learned in researching your question, the direction or rotation in draining sinks and toilets is more likely determined by other factors such as the design of the sink or toilet bowl. I suggest you check out Toilet Science at The University of Hong Kong's Department of Physics website and also http://www.ems.psu.edu/~fraser/Bad/BadCoriolis.html for another explanation of the topic.

Question: What causes my toilet to turn on and run without anyone touching it?

A: There are several possibilities here. The problem is often referred to as the "Phantom Flush", and usually caused by the design of the refill valve. Consider it a valuable feature; it is signaling that your toilet is leaking at the flush valve. Another cause of this phenomenon is very high water pressure which can force the refill valve to open and have water run for a few seconds. While the leaking flush valve is the most common cause, another cause is a refill tube that is not cut to the proper length and is allowed to drop down into the overflow pipe. This situation can start a siphon that will have a constant flow of water cycling through the toilet which will generate a "Phantom Flush" in toilet with these refill valves.

Fluidmaster 400 SL Ballcock The Fluidmaster 400A valve is one of the refill valves that will cause a "Phantom Flush" and as noted above has it's good points. But Fluidmaster has eliminated the "Phantom Flush" in the new "400LS PRO" while still providing a means to signal you that your toilet is leaking. The 400LS Pro has a LEAK SENTRY DEVICE that attaches to the underside of the float cup and prevents the cup from dropping until the tank lever is pushed.

The "Phantom Flush" signal works great if you are home, know what it means and take care of the leaks promptly. But if you are away and the flapper is leaking, the "Phantom Flush" allows an inch of water to leak out of the tank and then the cup drops and turns the water on to replenish the 1-inch of lost water. It continues to repeat this refilling of the leaked water until someone replaces the flapper.

Now with the LEAK SENTRY DEVICE, the cup will not drop and turn the water on until someone tries to flush the tank. Then the water turns on and refills the tank, which then permits the tank to be flushed. This will continue to occur until the tank leak is fixed.

Visit the "How to Fix a Flush Valve" at: http://www.toiletology.com/howtofix.shtml for tips on solving the Phantom Flush.

Question: Why is the water level in my toilet bowl lower than I see in many other toilets ?

A.If you have one of the newer 1.6 toilets, many of them are designed to have a very small amount of water left in a bowl after the toilet is flushed. There is nothing you can do about this; the amount of water in these bowls is determined by the shape of the bowl.

To determine what the water level in your toilet bowl should be, slowly pour several gallons of water into the bowl. The water level will settle at the maximum height that your bowl is designed to hold.

On the other hand, if the water level in your bowl after flushing is now lower than it usually is then you have a problem that is more likely correctable.

In this case, the first thing to do is to carefully remove the lid from the tank and check that the little tube from the refill valve is directing water into the overflow pipe. This little tube sometimes gets knocked out of position while someone is making a repair in the tank. The tube should never drop down inside the pipe; it should be clamped to the top edge. This water refills the bowl during the flush.

A low water level in a bowl can also be caused if the toilet is not properly vented, or the vent is clogged. Poor venting can create a vacuum in the system when a toilet is flushed and too much water will be sucked out of the bowl.

A vent can become clogged with a bird's nest, body of a bird, etc. Also, in extremely cold climates an undersized vent can close up due to frost forming on the inside of the vent walls from warm humid air from washing machines, dishwashers, showers, etc. In addition, a vent can become clogged at the fixture connections with grease, soap scum, etc. A clogged vent requires running a snake down through the vent pipe from the roof. Climbing around on a roof is tricky and best left to professionals who have the proper equipment and experience.

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