If a toilet pipe is leaking, a faulty shut-off valve may be the reason. The valve is an important component as it controls water flow. It should be used when there’s a leak and/or unsanitary conditions are developing. While the issue must be resolved quickly, you may not always need a plumber for this. We’ll explain how to proceed if your toilet shut-off valve is leaking.
Why Shut-Off Valves Leak
Years may go by without using a plumbing shut-off valve. During that time, mineral deposits can build up, corrosion can develop, or washers can become brittle. A valve may leak slowly at first and more steadily over time. To address the problem, you’ll need a multi-purpose screwdriver and slip joint pliers or a wrench.
Adjust the Packing Nut
Place a bucket or container under the valve to catch leaking water. Then turn the packing nut (located at the top of the valve) with an adjustable wrench or pair of pliers. To prevent damage, wrap the tool in cloth or masking tape and apply steady pressure. Move the nut counter-clockwise about ⅛ or ¼ of a turn at the time. If tightening the packing nut stops the leak, there’s nothing else you need to do.
Disassemble the Shut-Off Valve
If the toilet shut-off valve is still leaking, turn off the main water supply to your house. Then you’ll need to disassemble the valve assembly. With a container in place to catch leaking water, disconnect the pipes attached to the faulty valve. To take off the valve, remove the screw on its handle and untwist the packing nut. Now you can remove the valve’s threaded stem.
The handle, nut, valve stem, and neoprene rings fit in a specific order. To ensure you remember this order, take a picture to have a reference later.
If dirt or buildup is causing the leak, it will now be visible. Using a cloth, remove any mineral deposits on the neoprene washers. Scrub each component gently until it is clean. Press on the washer rings to restore flexibility. If they don’t flex, purchase replacement washers of the same size from a plumbing supply or hardware store and install these in place of the old parts.
When replacing the washers doesn’t solve the problem, you’ll need to replace the entire valve assembly, which requires purchasing and installing all the replacement components mentioned above.
Reassemble the Valve
Reassembly is the same process as taking the valve apart, except in reverse. But all components must be reassembled in the same order, and the packing nut tightened to prevent any leakage. To test the re-attached valve, turn the water supply back on, flush the toilet, and see whether the valve leaks. An old valve that still leaks must be replaced.
When to Call a Plumber
Call a professional if you’ve adjusted the valve or replaced it and it’s still leaking. You’ll also need a technician if the pipe appears damaged or is corroded. Attempting to fix a more serious plumbing problem yourself can result in causing more damage and spending more on repairs. If you’re uncomfortable working with a leaking toilet shut-off valve, it’s best to call for help.
Call Sky Heating, AC, Plumbing & Electrical
We are a plumbing services company in the Portland area. Whether you have a leaky faucet, a slow drain, or a toilet shut-off valve leaking, our licensed technicians can quickly fix the problem with no guesswork. Also, be sure to ask about our maintenance plans and financing options. To schedule plumbing repair in your home, call us at (888) 961-4282 today.