UKC

Toilet sounds like a helicopter...

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 Jamie Wakeham 11 Jan 2022

My toilet has developed a loud thrumming noise - rather like a distant helicopter - whilst not flushing.  During the actual flush, and the refill, the noise stops.  Turning on a nearby tap also makes the noise stop, as does closing the inline valve on the supply pipe to isolate the toilet refill.  But otherwise, this noise comes and goes more or less at random.

I've tried fiddling with the refill valve, which is a cheap looking torbeck.  This seems to have changed the frequency and volume of the noise but not made it go away.

I am assuming the problem is the refill mechanism, rather than anything else in the toilet (or indeed elsewhere in the water system).  To minimise the number of trips to screwfix, should I try changing the diaphragm in the valve first, or just go straight to replacing the whole torbeck valve?  Or something else?

 Graeme G 11 Jan 2022
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

You’re lucky. My helicopter sounds like a toilet!

In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

Refill tube is a tenner and easy to fit...don't think they are practically serviceable.

 Philip 11 Jan 2022
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

Is it water hammer on your cold water that is vibrating the refill valve? Maybe an early sign of a problem elsewhere, or just a bit of extra movement due mains cold being colder than usual?

In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

Have you tried flushing whilst seated, rather than whilst hovering over it?

 Jamie Wakeham 11 Jan 2022
In reply to Philip:

> Is it water hammer on your cold water that is vibrating the refill valve? Maybe an early sign of a problem elsewhere, or just a bit of extra movement due mains cold being colder than usual?

Well, this is what I was wondering.  The other loo on the top floor isn't doing this, but it did strike me that it could be something elsewhere in the cold system causing hammer.

Balmybaldwin - it's easy to change the little rubber diaphragm, so I was considering just replacing that.  If that fails then I guess changing the whole refill valve is my next step.

Darren - err, no...   

 Kalna_kaza 11 Jan 2022
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

I saw a Ridley Scott film about this once... Crap Hawk Down

 ThunderCat 11 Jan 2022
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

What happens if you flush it whilst it's on a turntable?

 ThunderCat 11 Jan 2022
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

Being the most unpractical / un-DIY person there is I was quite interested to take the lid off our cistern last year when the toilet refill mechanism started playing up, and to watch the various parts in action.

I was surprised by how much they had changed - I think the last time I saw inside one was about 20 years ago and I remember the big plastic ballcock which opened and closed the intake valvle, etc.

 LastBoyScout 11 Jan 2022
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

First steps for me would be to take it apart as far as possible, clean any limescale build-up off (that may be preventing a valve closing properly) and checking that the valve diaphragm hasn't perished or got a hole in it.

You might want to turn the water off first

If you do replace the whole thing, it's always worth fitting a service valve under the cistern if there isn't one already there.

 Philip 11 Jan 2022
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

I'm not sure best way to solve air hammer, but some guy with a similar problem did it by turning off the mains at the isolation tap and then opening all the outlets to equalise the pressure assuming there was some trapped air.

I'm not sure that would always work, I wonder if you could achieve the same by opening all the taps slightly (including outside taps) and flushing both toilets.

Either way, that might be a good first step and then perhaps later replace the toilet bits as it's probably a sign that the valve is not fitting well.

 Jamie Wakeham 11 Jan 2022
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

Thanks, all.  

Can't do the trick to equalise pressure, because it turns out that all the upstairs cold taps and loo refills are fed from the huge water tank in the loft.  Turning the incoming mains off only kills the kitchen cold tap.  I could empty the loft tank but frankly going to Screwfix is going to be a quicker option!

I've already taken the torbeck valve apart, given it a quick clean, and put it back together again - this changed the frequency and volume but didn't solve it.  Think I'll try a new diaphragm and, if that fails, then a whole new valve assembly.    

 George Ormerod 11 Jan 2022
In reply to Darren Jackson:

> Have you tried flushing whilst seated, rather than whilst hovering over it?

Maybe he shouldn’t let his chopper dangle into it?

In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

I feel your pain, we just had TRVs fitted on all the rads and now two of them become helicopters as they turn on and off

 duchessofmalfi 11 Jan 2022
In reply to Toerag:

Likely fitted to the wrong side of the rad (outlet instead of inlet)...

 deepsoup 11 Jan 2022
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

> Can't do the trick to equalise pressure, because it turns out that all the upstairs cold taps and loo refills are fed from the huge water tank in the loft.

Er..  wouldn't that tend to rule out the waterhammer thing anyway?  (Because those taps and ballcocks etc., are all being fed at relatively low pressure.)

If there's no stopcock on the pipe coming out of that huge water tank, maybe you should empty it anyway and fit one.  You might be glad you did if you get a burst pipe, accidentally drill a hole in one or something in the future.

 Rick Graham 11 Jan 2022
In reply to deepsoup:

> Er..  wouldn't that tend to rule out the waterhammer thing anyway?  (Because those taps and ballcocks etc., are all being fed at relatively low pressure.)

It could be the feed to the header tank that has the water hammer effect?

No one has mentioned yet that you can buy water hammer arrestors , effectively an air trap on a dead end pipe ,  to cushion the hammer effect. About £20 or make your own with a T and short section of vertical capped pipe.

There is also the possibility that an arrestor is already fitted but has got compromised  ( flooded ) somehow. Draining the system then refilling would then sort it. Worth a try?

 Jamie Wakeham 11 Jan 2022
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

Hurrah - a £2 replacement diaphragm seems to have done the trick!  I'm glad I didn't have to mount the cistern on a turntable after all...

I suspect there is a valve to cut the supply from the header tank - I've been meaning to get up there and have a proper look, but it's a pain to get at in the attic space, and in the next two months it should all be removed as we switch over to ASHP.

In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

> Hurrah - a £2 replacement diaphragm seems to have done the trick!  I'm glad I didn't have to mount the cistern…

If you had mounted the cistern at least the diaphragm would have stopped any pregnancy!  


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