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leaking toilet cistern valve- should I turn water off while away?

(13 Posts)
cluttered Fri 05-Feb-16 17:54:29

Yesterday we had a bit of a flood after DS used the toilet and somehow the valve which shuts off the water when the cistern is full stopped working. I turned the water off and mopped up and then turned the water back on and fiddled around with it and managed to get it to shut off again. But the whole thing looks so flimsy and the amount of water on the floor after a few minutes was scary!!

We are on holiday over half term and I am just wondering now if I should turn the water off at the stopcock while away in case it happens again as I am not sure what I did to turn the valve off and it may come undone again. If I do, should I leave the boiler on low or turn it off also? It's a new Combi boiler and we don't have a water tank. We are in London so I'm not sure that the pipes would be likely to freeze with the heating off but I would normally leave it on the timer coming on for a few hours below about 15 degrees. Anyone have any advice?

wowfudge Fri 05-Feb-16 18:03:46

Is there an isolator on the water pipe to the toilet cistern? It will look like a slotted screw head. If so, turn it a quarter turn using a flathead screwdriver so that the water supply to the cistern is shut off. It should turn to the right to shut it.

I would probably leave the heating set so that it will come on if the temperature dips.

cluttered Fri 05-Feb-16 18:24:41

There is something looking like a screw head on the pipe but I have tried turning it clockwise and it doesn't budge. That would be brilliant if I could isolate it though, I never thought of that!

specialsubject Fri 05-Feb-16 20:10:31

that will be the isolator - look up ways of getting stuck screws to budge.

and ASAP get an overflow installed. In modern toilets it goes into the pan. In older ones it goes somewhere outside -or should... You should be able to get that done before half term.

nearer the time check the forecast to see if it is ok to turn the heating off.

cluttered Fri 05-Feb-16 20:36:07

Thanks special our main bathroom toilet has an overflow pipe outside, the one that leaked is in our loft conversion and must be a "modern" toilet as the water was going down the pan predominantly, although also coming out of the cistern, so as DS had done a number 2 that came out all over the floor too! So, maybe the toilet pipe was a bit blocked and if the pipe had been clear it should have been able to handle a continuous flow of water without overflowing?

It was not just your usual blocked toilet because the water level would normally just go up to the top of the bowl and you wouldn't get several inches covering the floor and the water in the cistern wouldn't switch off when the float was raised.

specialsubject Fri 05-Feb-16 21:15:19

ah. thanks for sharing...

yes, sounds like you have a blocked toilet outlet to add to the fun. Are the children small enough to feed it with too much toilet paper?

wowfudge Fri 05-Feb-16 21:20:03

It's possible the isolator has been incorrectly fitted. See if you can turn it at all and turn it as far as it will go in that direction. That may do the trick.

cluttered Fri 05-Feb-16 22:17:46

No, it doesn't want to turn either direction, the slot is too shallow and wide so my screwdrivers just slip. Unlike Phillips screwdrivers my flat headed ones all seem to have the same size blade which is too thin.

My DC are both at secondary so not small but still do put way too much toilet paper down. Maybe I just need to test whether the pipe is unblocked enough to cope if it happens again by holding the float in the cistern down?

specialsubject Sat 06-Feb-16 16:08:02

worth a go. And train your children regarding correct use of the pipework. If someone needs to use lots of paper/wipes, then implement the Med-style covered bin.

also worth checking that they know that NOTHING else goes down the toilet; body waste, paper, that's it.

PigletJohn Sat 06-Feb-16 20:06:42

if it is a ball-o-fix type isolator, it only has to go a quarter turn in either direction, so the slot in the screw head lies across the direction of the pipe, not along it.

If it is a big slot, a 20p or 5p might fit.

Time to save up for a good set of screwdrivers...

If you are going away, you can turn off your main stopcock, which might be under the sink or a trapdoor in the front garden, next to where the gate used to be when the house was built. If you have a water meter there should be a T handle to turn it off, coming out of the side of the meter, probably blue. Don't pull it.

If you ever have to buy a service valve, these Pegler ones (available with a handle) cost ten times as much as the ones that leak, and are worth it. The cheap ones are cheap for a reason.

PigletJohn Sat 06-Feb-16 20:11:27


you can (and should) leave the heating on low in winter. It does not matter that the water supply is off, because the boiler does not use up the water in the radiators.

cluttered Sat 06-Feb-16 21:34:51

Thanks piglet john I actually just located the stopcock (under the carpet in the front hallway) a few months ago after 17 years of living here not knowing where it was, as the engineer wouldn't fix my under-warranty shower without being able to turn the water off inside the property. Apparently Thames Water might sue them if they turned it off at the street or so they say! The plumber who helped me locate it fitted a new tap to make it easier to turn, luckily it hadn't seized up after all those years.

I will definitely turn off the water while away if there's no reason to leave it on for the boiler. I know water has to be added manually to the system rather than being topped up automatically but I just wanted to check I'm not missing anything.

PigletJohn Sat 06-Feb-16 21:55:14

a good tip, with an ordinary screw-down tap or valve, turn it all the way open, then back it off half a turn. Makes it less likely to stick. Especially important with stopcocks which may be left untouched for many years. It is very difficult to oil a stuck tap, because of course they are made to be watertight.

When closing a old-style valve or tap, turn it off finger-tight. Unless it drips (indicating the washer is crushed or worn out) there is no need to screw it down with great force. The cause of washers being crushed or worn out, is people screwing them down with great force.

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