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1920s 2-Piece Toilet Tank Not Holding Water

AlexPetron Member Posts: 22
edited April 2017 in Plumbing

I am trying to repair my 1920s-era 2-Piece Toilet, an effort I have been working on over the past two months. So far, I have replaced the Fluidmaster washer and the tank ball after having discovered the existing one (likely original to the tank) was dry-rotted and not holding water in the tank. I even pulled out the plug on the new tank ball and inserted several small pieces of gravel from my driveway in an attempt to make it heavier so it might seat firmly.

However, I am still experiencing a problem with the tank ball apparently not seating properly upon release of the flush handle which is causing water to slowly discharge out of the tank into the bowl and resulting in wasted fresh water as the Fluidmaster kicks on to replenish and top-off the tank water level.

I am attaching several pictures of the toilet and the inside of its tank which I took with most of the tank water flushed-out. I can provide other views upon your request if you would find them helpful. Please offer any guidance you think might help me to resolve this issue. Thank you!


  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,857
    The flush valve seat (brass unit that the flush ball drops into) is probably worn so the ball doesn't seal properly.

    You might try a Fluidmaster "Flusher Fixer" which is a combination flapper and seat that fastens to the original seat with an adhesive. However, in some cases these restrict the water flow enough that the bowl doesn't flush well.

    If that doesn't work, you'll have to replace the entire flush valve. I think brass flush valves are still made, though I haven't seen one in a while.

    Most people would simply replace the entire toilet with a high-efficiency one.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 8,972
    I would suspect that the seat that the flush ball lands into is eroded from water seeping. The simplest thing could be to smooth the seat with emery cloth or some sort of sandpaper.
    If it too far gone for that then there is a replacement seat kit for adapting to the newer form of flush flapper. The new seat comes with epoxy type glue to attach as needed. It must be absolutely dry (hair dryer heat) and allowed to cure before wet again.

    Adding weight to the existing flush ball makes it lose its ability to remain floating long enough for a full flush.

    For me any more than the 2 "fixes" I mentioned would involve more a lot more repairs......pull tank....replace 2" flush 90....probably replace spud in bowl.....more labor/money than a new WC.
    But you could have a 14" rough in on the floor flange.....if there is one....then there is always the surprise of the condition of the floor just doesn't stop sometimes. :s IMO
  • L Thiesen
    L Thiesen Member Posts: 54
    Wow, talk about flushing money down the drain. That stool has several problems, you need a new flush valve and flapper or tank ball and a new flush elbow and may need a new spud in the back of the bowl. After all that you will still use 5 to 7 gallons of water per flush compared to 1.6 or 1.2 gallons used by a new stool.
    It looks like that is a 14 inch rough in but I believe Kohler makes some models in 14 inch rough in. To confirm the rough in measurement measure the distance from the wall to the bolts holding the bowl to the floor.
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 8,972
    Many years ago when I was young and adventurist, I very carefully tackled a couple of these. Today no way other than the 2 simple fixes. IF money was no object some would high wall the tank with all the new chrome or brass accessories, long chain on flush handle etc.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 17,132
    @AlexPetron -- if you want to maintain the look -- and I can understand that, being in the restoration field -- I would just get a nice new two piece toilet with a relatively low water use and be done with it. It is possible to get reproduction toilets -- but they cost.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • 2x_Tom
    2x_Tom Member Posts: 12
    edited April 2017
    They used to make a resurfacer for those brass valves. You chucked it in a drill and ground it down. I've kicked myself a bunch of times for not saving that one from the dumpster.

    Problem with replacing those bowls is half of them I find have an odd rough, I've seen them up to 18". Even if it's 14 you'll never cover the footprint with a new toilet though that doesn't appear to be an original floor so it may not be an issue.

    When one of these toilets gives me an issue beyond the flush ball I either change the bowl or change everything, new brass flush valve, flush elbow, 2" slip nuts and washers and the 2" spud. Don't try and change just the flush valve because the rest will fall apart on you once you start turning things. I've never had one give me too much trouble, it's usually an hour or less of work.
  • Leonard
    Leonard Member Posts: 903
    edited January 2019
    I've had similar problems with a 1958 tolet. ~ 15 years ago for a while it seemed material of rubber ball seal would go bad and not seat properly every few years.

    That ball seal is held by a brass rod that guides it down to land in CENTER of the drain hole to seal it. Finally figured out that when I replaced the corroded guide bracket that I didn't put it back in the correct spot and it's guide hole was too large dia so it was sloppy and ball would not always land in CENTER of drain hole. So ball deformed a bit when it got old and softer and weeped.

    New brass guide bracket and trail and error alignment fixed the weeping problem, .Good now , Last problem was ~ 10+ years ago.
  • Mike Cascio
    Mike Cascio Member Posts: 140
    Keep the toilet, they are becoming harder and harder to find. Besides, you cant beat the flush.

    The valve is a Douglas style flush valve. See the link below for a correct one available.
  • Intplm.
    Intplm. Member Posts: 1,336
    Ah, the Douglas flush valve. A common commodity years ago.
    @MikeCascio is right on target. You will also need a new chrome plated "J" bend to connect it to the bowl as the one pictured will surely fall apart when you do the repair.