Puddles of water around your toilet may be a sign the shut-off valve is leaking, which could eventually damage floors. The shut-off valve controls the water flow to the toilet, and when you need to make plumbing repairs, you usually have to cut off the supply of water . However, shut-off valves can be a source of leaks after years of use. Here are common fixes for a leaky toilet shut-off valve you can do yourself.
Adjust the Packing Nut
A loose packing nut can cause the valve to leak. Shut off the house water supply. Run the tap or faucet to relieve water pressure and drain pipes. Set a container under the valve to catch water.
Cover groove joint pliers with masking tape to avoid scratching the valve surface. Rotate the pliers left 1/8 to 1/4 inch at a time to tighten the packing nut. If the washers are clean, the leak should stop.
Clean or Replace the Washers
If tightening the packing nut doesn't work, washers could be the culprit. Dirty or damaged washers do not form a secure seal. Rotate the pliers left to loosen the nut. Loosen the nut slowly so the lag can raise water pressure to dislodge any material clogging the pipes.
Take off the handle and stem and remove the neoprene washers with a flathead screwdriver. Remember how you took everything apart. Remove dirt and mineral deposits with water and an old toothbrush or cloth.
Work the washers until they are pliable. Avoid using plastic tape or pipe dope on stem threads. Cracked or rusted washers will need replacing. Put everything back together, turn the water back on, and test for leaks again.
Avoid using plumbing putty since it could make future repairs more difficult. If the toilet still leaks, try stopping the leak by rotating the nut 1/8 of an inch at a time. Don't make it too tight or you could damage the valve.
Tighten Water Supply Line
Remove the nut to loosen the water line from the valve with a wrench. Clean the line with a dry cloth. Wrap plumber's tape twice over pipe threads to secure the fitting. Make the tape on the pipe ends smooth with your fingers. Put the pipe back in place and tighten the valve.
You should be able to fix the leaking valve in no time following these steps. If nothing you try fixes the problem, it is time to get a plumber to check for leaks elsewhere in your system. Consider searching the phrase "bergen county nj plumber" to find a plumber near you.