Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Quick Class: Float Ball

A short post today, nothing fancy. We’ve been working on some videos over at Click and Improve and while writing a few of them, one thing that came up was common things that people see but don’t know the use for. One thing that came up, as I was talking to a NYC plumber at a recent meeting, was how the mechanisms in the back of the toilet tank work together and how a kink in their process is what tends to be the cause of a runny toilet. This led me to the floater ball, which I remember used to be completely alien to me; that black ball in the toiet tank that looks like an inflatable croquet ball. Not to get too gross, but the winter months can be some battle-test weeks for your toilet and this was something that seemed to be an easy DIY repair job to go through.

The float ball sits on the water and when the toilet flushes, it drops, causing the float arm to raise the valve plunger and bring fresh water into the tank until the floatball is floating again. The most common effect of a defective float ball is a running toilet, and there are a few things that can cause this. The float ball can be cut or leaky, which can cause it to not float properly. There’s also a possibility that the float ball is rubbing up against the side of the tank, which can cause a tear or make it so the lever doesn’t lift properly.

The most common solution is replacement, as float balls are relatively cheap. Regardless, you should replace it immediately, as it links directly with the mechanism that ensures that you can flush your toilet properly. To replace it, you’ll have to turn the water shutoff valve to the toilet and flush the toilet to empty the tank. Use a pair of pliers to take off the rod arm and float ball. Turn the rod arm counterclockwise to remove the defective float ball before threading the new float ball on the rod arm and tighten it. Turn the water back on to the toilet and reattach the rod arm, bending it to reach a desirable level to meet the water level.

Okay. So, admittedly, some of that stuff takes a bit more effort than I led on, but plumbing in general tends to be a craft that even the most experienced of practitioners are consistently refining and honing. But this is a good thing to have in your back pocket when the sound of swirling water is keeping you up to hours that would make Santa cock an eyebrow.