Posts from the ‘DIY’ Category

How to unclog a toilet

How to test for a leaky toilet

It’s a helpless feeling when it happens. You flush the toilet and instead of going down, the water starts rising. You watch as the water, toilet paper and anything else that happens to be in the toilet slowly inches its way to the rim of the bowl. Your heart races, you palms get sweaty, and a hopeless feeling of panic sets in as you brace for the flood. Clogged toilets are a nightmare to deal with but if you know what you’re doing you can help avert a disaster.

Determine if your toilet is really plugged:

There are occasions when you toilet seems like it’s plugged when in fact it really isn’t. In order for a toilet to flush properly it needs to have a certain amount of water rush into the bowl at a certain speed. If there isn’t enough water, or if it doesn’t enter the bowl fast enough, the toilet won’t have the suction it needs to create a proper flush.  Over time the ports that are at the top rim of the toilet bowl can become choked off by calcium and lime deposits from your water. When these ports get plugged the toilet does not get the rush of water that it needs.

lime scale calcium build up toilet bowl flush de-limer de-scaler mineral deposit calcified calcium calcified limed plugged clogged unplug unclog cleaner

Santeen Toilet Bowl Cleaner

To take care of the problem you need to get yourself a good de-limer. The best one the we have fond is a product called Santeen Toilet Bowl Cleaner. Our plumbers dry off the rim of the toilet and then duct tape over the ports. This keeps thesanteen from jut pouring through the ports and lets it really work its magic. Pour the de-limer into the overflow tube located in the toilet tank (it has the flapper attached to it). Let the Santeen eat away at the lime build up for about 15 minutes. Take the tape off of the ports. Be careful not to get the Santeen on your hands (gloves are recommended , it’s nasty stuff). Pour more Santeen into the overflow to flush anything more out of the toilet. You should see all kinds of nastiness come out. Try flushing the toilet again, you should see marked improvement.

If you’re worried about an overflow you should shut-off the supply of water to the toilet. The shut-off  is found on the left down behind the toilet. Turn it until it stops the flow of water.

power plunger toilet clog plug removal unplug unclog clean out plumbing plumber flush how to

The “Power Plunger” by Harvey

Next you need to get a plunger. Use a plunger that has a pull out that will make a good seal in the bottom of the bowl. A good one  that you can use is the Harvey power plunger. Plungers that do not have the pull out option will not make a great seal and therefore will not have the push that the power plunger has.  A plunger is used to force whatever is blocked in the toilet through.

If you cannot get the block taken care of by pushing it trough you may need to use something that pulls the blockage out. To do this you ill need a toilet auger (also called a toilet snake).  A toilet auger is used to grind through and/or grab a blockage. Be careful when inserting the toilet auger into the toilet bowl not to scratch t bowl with the spring on the auger. Marks left by the auger will be very difficult to remove. Slide the auger down into the bend at the bottom of the bowl. Extend the cable out into the toilet until you hit a blockage. Gently turn the handle and grind or grab the blockage and pull it back out. Be careful if you find resistance don’t force it. If the spring binds and then releases violently you could potentially crack he porcelain of the toilet from the inside. After removing the blockage turn the water back on and attempt to flush again.

Toilet auger snake plug clog unclog unplug clean out repair plumber plumbing

How to auger out a toilet

Along Came Polly toilet scene – YouTube.

If you have any questions, comments, or if you want to schedule a plumber contact us at 763-551-8990

LeVahn Brothers Plumbing and Hardware is located at 12700 Bass Lake Rd Maple Grove, MN 55369

Find us on the web at and on Facebook at


A winter survival guide for your house |

Photo: Tom Wallace, Star Tribune

Star Tribune photo galleries


• Have it inspected by a professional chimney inspector every year.

• Have it cleaned every year or two, or more if you have a lot of fires or tend to burn softer woods.

• A chimney cap with a rain hood and screen will minimize rain damage and keep critters out.


• Stock up on clean, dry firewood. A fireplace store can recommend someone to deliver and stack it for you. Store it away from your house to keep mice and other vermin at a distance.

• Close the damper when the fireplace is not in use. When you’re using it, turn down the thermostat and open a window near the fireplace to prevent warm air from being pulled from other parts of the house.

• Install glass doors on the fireplace to keep warm air from being drawn up the chimney.

• If you use the fireplace frequently, a fireplace insert improves efficiency by blowing heat into the room and limiting heat loss up the chimney.

Keep the cold out and the heat in

• Reducing air leaks and properly insulating walls, crawl spaces and floors can cut energy bills by up to 10 percent. Seal leaky ducts with metal-backed tape or aerosol sealant. Consider having your insulation updated to save money, improve comfort and lower the risk of ice dams.

• Set your thermostat between 65 and 70 degrees when you’re home; lower it when you’re sleeping or away from home for more than a few hours. Use a programmable thermostat to make the switches automatic.

• On sunny days, open curtains and blinds to let the sun’s heat in. Close them at night to trap the warmth inside.

• Close or install storm windows, which reduce drafts and frost formation and can cut heat loss through the window by 25 to 50 percent. For a cheaper alternative, cover windows with plastic.

• Schedule a home energy audit through Xcel Energy; for $30 to $100 a professional will inspect your home and identify ways you can save on energy, including windows, insulation, and heating and cooling systems.

Keep rooms toasty

• Run your ceiling fan at low speed in reverse direction (counter-clockwise) so the blades drive warm air down into the room.


• Change your furnace filters per the manufacturer recommendations. Most homes are built with a 1-inch filter which should be refreshed every month.

• Clean your furnace before the first cold spell. If your furnace isn’t too dirty, you can save money by vacuuming the blades yourself.

• Get acquainted with your

house’s ductwork. Most homes are equipped with dampers, allowing you to change the volume of heat delivered upstairs, downstairs and all rooms in-between.


• Disconnect your garden hose, shut off the water valve and drain the spigot — even if you have a frost-free faucet.

• Drain the sediment from your water heater. This should be done once or twice every year.


• Repair any exterior damage that might invite pests. Carpenter ants like leaky pipes, warped storm windows and tattered roof shingles, whereas frayed screens and chewed-through door sweeps attract rodents.

• Clear your garage of mice-magnets, especially if you have an attached garage. This isn’t the place to stash woodpiles and unsealed birdseed.


• Prevent a flooded basement by caulking any gaps in your sidewalks, especially those closest to the house.


• Clean debris from gutters and downspouts. Open any roof drains or vents.


• Check the caulking around vents and chimneys and other roof protrusions to make sure the seal is tight.

• If you tend to have problems with snow and ice backup, consider installing electrical heat tapes to keep melted snow flowing off of the roof.

• If you use an ice rake to remove snow from your roof to avoid ice dams, make sure you rake all the way to the roof’s peak, or dams could form above the rake line.

Sources: Crystal Manik, senior marketing business consultant for Xcel Energy; Eric Siedow, technician for Chimney Guys; Rodney Pierce, salesperson for Genz-Ryan Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning; Colleen Cannon, staff entomologist for Plunkett’s Pest Control; Bill Yares, president of Twin Cities Home Evaluations; Stacy Reese, manager of Walker Roofing.

via A winter survival guide for your house |

Additional related articles:

How to prepare your home for colder temperatures

How to prevent an outside faucet from freezing

Get a roof rake to prevent ice dams

What to do for a frozen sump pump discharge line

Save money by insulating your home

Mosquito Repellents and Killers

Are we going to have a bumper crop of mosquitoes this summer?

I hate mosquitoes. I hate everything about them. The biting, the itching, the buzzing sound by your ear as you lay in your tent trying to sleep. Unfortunately, it looks like this year we may have a bumper crop of them. I’m not sure when you were outside last but I did some upkeep in my garden one evening last week and it was all I could do to keep from being carried away by the damned things. With all the rain we’ve had this year I knew it wouldn’t be long before they really showed up.

Whether it’s the West Nile Virus or if you just want to prevent being bitten here’s some tips on what you can do to defend yourself:


Q: What type of repellent stays effective the longest?

A: The champion is DEET in a controlled-release formula (which typically involves a 20% to 34% concentration of the ingredient) or in high concentrations (30% to 100%). Controlled-release formulas have a slight edge in duration of effectiveness.

DEET (Diethyl Toluamide) is a chemical. To some people, the thought of applying it to their skin makes them uneasy. Yet DEET has been in use since 1957 and has been repeatedly tested for toxicity. The human body does absorb DEET, but is believed to eliminate it through urine within 24 hours. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the use of DEET and considers it safe when applied according to label instructions.

DEET is the only active repellent ingredient available in high concentrations (30% to 100%) in the U.S. Why? Only DEET’s higher concentrations have been screened extensively for toxicity, a lengthy and expensive process. Such data is required by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which regulates repellent ingredients in the U.S.

In 2008 an alternative to DEET, a 20% formula of the chemical picaridin(p-CARE-uh-din), became available in the U.S. Previously it had been available only in a 7% solution. Picaridin’s advantages over DEET: It does not damage gear (in particular, DEET negatively impacts plastics), usually works better against flies and, in the opinions of many people, smells better. DEET in controlled-release formulas and higher concentrations still outlasts it.

In lower concentrations, active ingredients (DEET included) provide shorter-term effectiveness. The duration of effectiveness will vary by active ingredient.

For example, in an often-cited study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2002, DEET at 6.7% was effective for 112 minutes before the first bite was registered. Citronella, the first widely used “natural” active ingredient (and one that is fading in popularity today), at 10% yielded a bite after 19.7 minutes. A 2004 study produced similar results.

What does that mean for you? Base your choice on the amount of time you plan to spend outside. If you are planning an all-day outing, it makes sense to choose long-duration repellent that contains a higher concentration of an active ingredient—you may have no need to reapply the repellent. If you are planning to be outside for a shorter time, you could choose a low-concentration repellent—usually effective for 1 to 4 hours.

Note: DEET concentrations above 50% do not provide more protection than lesser concentrations, but they are believed to increase the length of the protection.

(taken from

Spray repellents: There are plenty of choices of products out there that contain Deet. Choose one that suits your needs. I’m not a big fan of the way that Deep Woods Off smells but for circumstances that I want higher protection this is what I would choose. 3M also has a good product called Ultrathon that is very effective. There is also repellents that work better for when you are going to sweat. Off Active is one such product that I’ve used and it seemed to work fairly well.

Using a product high in Permethrin can also be effective in repelling mosquitoes. Repel  has a product that is called Repel Mosquito Stop Clothing and Gear. It is to be used only on clothing and gear and is not supposed to used on your skin. I’m not sure the health risks of this product but based on the warning labels on the back of the package warning against any possibility of skin contact I’d say that if your against using chemicals this is not the product for you.

A new addition to the game is the use of personal repellent devices. These are manufactured by a number of different brands and they generally use some form of clip on device that uses a fan to emit a repellent. Off has a clip on that offers up to 12 hours of protection. I’ve heard good things about these but they are a little to pricey for my peanut butter and jelly budget. The clip on runs around $10 and refills are around $7 plus batteries.

If you just want to take care of a backyard there are a number of choices to kill off and or repel theses nasty bugs.

Bonide has a few of options that do a tremendous job of repelling mosquitoes. Two of my favorite products to use are Bonide’s Mosquito Beater Granules and Mosquito Beater RTS liquid. They both do a fantastic job of keeping your backyard mosquito free. The granules are a 100% natural blend of geranium oil, cedar oil, lemon grass oil, garlic and citronella oil. The liquid formula is Permethrin based and seems to be more effective. It also is effective in controlling fleas, ticks, spiders, crickets and even ants.

Another way to control mosquitoes is to help prevent them from maturing. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in water and the larva need to develop in the water before becoming flying spawns of Satan. You can help prevent this from happening in your yard by not allowing them to have water to lay eggs in. Any puddle can become a breeding ground so after a rain empty out containers that hold water (like playground equipment for instance). If you have a pond you can add all natural EPA approved mosquito dunks that will kill off larva for up to 30 days. Mosquitoes will not lay their eggs in moving water so you could also add a pump/fountain to a pond. Add a Water Wiggler to your bird bath that will not only prevent mosquitoes but it will attract more birds.

A Water Wiggler in your bird bath prevents mosquitoes from breeding and attracts more birds!

If you really want to be serious you could also use a Mosquito magnet. Mosquito magnets emit low amounts of carbon dioxide (provided by an attached propane tank) that attracts mosquitoes to the magnet. They enter the Mosquito Magnet and are trapped inside by a filter system. You periodically need to empty the filter of mosquitoes and also refill the propane tank. There is a bit of upkeep with these machines and opinions are mixed in terms of how effective they are. I owned one at one point but was tired of the maintenance. I stick to the spray and granular products from Bonide and I’m happy with their results.

Another more natural option for mosquito control is to attract bats with a bat house or two. Bats can eat thousands of mosquitoes a night.  Adding a bat house can really help your yard be more bug free. Check out this blog for more details How to Get rid of 1-5000 mosquitoes every night. Try a Bat House.

For more information call us at 763-553-1222

Come in and see us at 12700 Bass Lake Road Maple Grove, MN 55369

Visit us on the web at

Adventures In Gardening Volume 2: Seedlings, Potato Bugs and Liquid Fence

When Josey and I planted our garden my biggest fear was that nothing was going to grow in the acid rich very sandy soil. Apparently we must have done something right because we have seedlings shooting up everywhere.  After 2 weeks our beans and peas are looking spectacular and our row of carrots looks like a little green mohawk. Our pepper and jalapeno plants look healthy and the onions and chives are poking through. I was pleasantly surprised with our garden but a realization occurred after looking at those small helpless plants. Suddenly the rabbits and deer that we loved looking at in our yard became my newest worst enemy. How was I going to defend my little crop of veggies? I thought about getting a .22 caliber rifle and stationing myself on top of the roof of our house. However I remembered that prior to planting Josey almost cried when I told her that I would have to kill the ants in the spot where the garden was going to go.I think the exact quote was: “They don’t do anything to hurt people dad”.  A rifle was out of the question.

Our Gardens Carrot Mohawk

I knew that I should fence the garden in but time was of the essence so I opted for a spray bottle of Liquid Fence that I had in the garage.  I’ve used liquid fence in the past but it’s been awhile. Originally I had brought it home for the Hostas we have all over the yard but I switched to a product from Sweeny’s that is a once a season deer repellent stake ( they work remarkably well by the way). For those of you who haven’t used Liquid Fence it is a great product that does an amazing job of repelling but it is hideous smelling when it is first applied. I hate to be crass but you know how your garbage can smell when you first open the lid in the middle of summertime? Mix that with urine and that’s what Liquid Fence smells like when first sprayed. Without remembering this, I decided to spray the perimeter of the garden. So I walked and sprayed excessively around our garden (remember this was option # 2 after the .22 rifle and I was intent on defending these little plants). I also thought it wouldn’t be a bad idea to hit some of the hostas. You can’t be too careful right? It was only after the breeze shifted that I got hit with what I had done. I immediately went inside and started shutting doors and windows but it was too late. When I looked out the front door and saw my wife, son and daughter all standing in the front yard with their shirts over their mouths I knew I was in trouble.

Beans and peas

Fortunately, the smelled died down and the plants remain untouched by the rabbits and deer. But something smaller has now become my new worst enemy; the evil and devastating Potato Beetle. Last week Josey and I went out to the garden to add poles for the beans and peas to climb and we found that these little spawns of Satan were all over making meals out of our crops. After I calmed down and thought about how they are Gods creatures too and that they are just doing what they were designed to do I asked Josey what we should do. She said “kill them Dada”. Remembering the story about the ants I asked her why should we kill them? She said flatly, “because they’re eating OUR vegetables dad”. Apparently her mercy only goes so far.

Josey decided that the potato beetles needed to go so she went and got her bug box and started collecting them. She was squeamish at first but got braver (and angrier) as she worked. If she had one that was particularly wiggly she would throw it in the box and then shake it. She told me she wasn’t trying to hurt them but in fact she was trying to scare them. I told her that the shaking wasn’t working so instead she started making scary faces and yelling at them.

I wasn’t totally convinced that Josey’s scare tactics were going to work so the next day at the store I picked up a shaker container of Dragoon Dust by Bonide. It’s a product that is safe for vegetables and is both an insecticide and fungicide (in other words a bug and disease killer). I sprinkled the dust on my plants that evening and I hope it will take care of my potato beetle invasion. The beetles better hope for death too or else I’m going to send Josey back out to try some more of her “scare tactics”.

All the products mentioned in this article can be found at LeVahn Bros. Hardware Hank

For more information contact us at 763-553-1222

Stop in and see us at 12700 Bass Lake Rd. Maple Grove, MN 55369

Visit us on the web at and like us on Facebook

Adventures in Gardening Volume 1: Planting

preparing the soil

Josey working the ground

Well I’ve finally done it. I’ve decided to try to plant a garden in my yard starting from scratch with seeds. I’ve always wanted to do it but it took my 3-year-old girl to motivate me to take action. It never ceases to amaze me what she can get me to do. Shes loves to be outside and she’s at that wonderful stage in life when she’s eager to help with everything. So, I decided to make the most of these years and get as much child labor out of her that I could muster.

Working at a hardware store for 18 years gives you a lot of knowledge in a whole bunch of different areas but the realty is that much of it is theoretical. I do my best to give people advice based on knowledge that I know as fact and until I can try something for myself I usually defer to people who know more. Fortunately, there is no shortage of opinions on how to do something here at our store. When it comes to a garden there was no better person with real life experience than John the former owner of our store who still works here in a semi-retired role. He is a farm boy from North Dakota who still dabbles in fruits and vegetables. Every fall we are the beneficiaries of his bountiful crop of squash, plums, apples, cucumbers, zucchini and more. I told him I was worried that nothing was going to grow and he told me this; “If the ground can grow grass it can grow vegetables. Just fertilize the hell out of it and you’ll grow something.”

With this profound advice in my back pocket I decide to give the garden a go. I chose carrots,  jalapenos, green peppers, green onion, chives, pole beans, peas, and sunflowers. I threw in the sunflowers because I knew that if everything else didn’t grow I could count on the sunflowers to do something. We rototilled up a corner of the yard that gets the most sunlight (I’d heard somewhere that plants like it). I knew the ground was sandy but I had no idea how sandy it really was until I started digging. It was if I was digging in fine sugar. I added some black dirt topsoil, a heavy dose of  organic garden fertilizer (which has copious amounts of turkey poop in it. Don’t believe me just smell my garden) and a few shovels full of fire pit ashes. I added the fire pit ash because I read that it could be beneficial to my specific garden. Since ash is so fine it actually slows down the drainage of water (which is good for really sandy soils but not good if you have clay). It also can raise the PH levels (acidity) of the soil. Sine we have a lot of pine trees in our yard and one that is seated directly next the garden our soil is highly acidic. You can also counter soil acidity with the use of hydrated lime (I’ve had to add lime to my lawn in areas just to get the grass to grow). I needed to dig out the fire pit anyhow so this was an easy way to re-use my ashes. Ashes also have small amounts of phosphorus and potassium in them as well both beneficial to plants. I’ve read both pros and cons of using ash in a garden but this whole process is really an experiment anyway so I gave it a try. If you are wondering what your soils acidity is you can purchase a soil testing kit for around $15-$20 from at the hardware store.

Josey planting the vegetable seeds

After throwing the black dirt, fertilizer, and ash on the garden bed I rototilled it again to mix it into the soil.  After my dirt cocktail was thoroughly mixed it was time to plant the seeds. I simply followed the directions on the backs of the packages and with the help of my very eager 3-year-old daughter we sowed the seeds to our very first vegetable garden. Josey went around with her little watering can and gave each seed a healthy drink. She could hardly wait for the seeds to start growing and I had to remind her a few times that the process is going to take some time. Hopefully SOMETHING grows and she can see the fruits (or vegetables) of our labor.

LeVahn Bros. Plumbing and Hardware  is located at 12700 Bass Lake Road in Maple Grove, MN 55369

You can contact us at 763-551-8990 or at

You can find us on the web at and on Facebook at

Appliance Parts Now Available Through LeVahn Bros. INC

Order parts online

LeVahn Brothers Plumbing and Hardware in Maple Grove is proud to announce the availability of parts for appliance, home electronics, outdoor equipment, barbecue, and hearth parts. Contact us or go straight to the website by clicking this link: Partscription. We now have over 8 million parts available to us that cover hundreds of makes and models.

For more Information contact us at 763-553-1222

Stop in and see us at 12700 Bass Lake Road Maple Grove, Mn 55369

Find us on the web at and at

We have appliance parts available to us for the following manufacturers:

A Acros, Admiral, Alliance, Amana, Arkla, Avanti

B- Bertazzoni, Bissel, Bosch, Broan Nutone, Broil King

C Cadet, Caloric, Char-Broil, Comfort Aire, Conquest, Coolerator, Cornelious, Crosley, Crystal Tips

D Dacor, Dormont, Ducane, Dundas-Jafine, Dynasty

E Electrolux, Elenco, Embraco, Estate, Ez-Flo

F Fiesta, Fisher & Paykel, Fridiaire

G Gaffers & Sattler, Gaggenau, General, General Electric, Gibson, Glenwood, Grand, Greenwald Industries

H Haier, Hampton Bay, Hardwick, Holiday, Hoover, Hot Point, Huebsch

I International

J Jade, Jenn-Air, Jordan, Julien

K Kelvinator, Kenmore, Kirkland, KitchenAid, Koblenz


M Magic Chef, Maytag, Menu, Master, Modern, Maid, Monogram

N Napoleon, Norcold, NuTone

O OKeefe & Merritt

P Philco


R Rainfresh, RCA, Revco, Robinair, Roper, Royal

S Samsung, Shepherd, Siemens, Speed Queen, Speedqueen, Sterling, Sub Zero, Sunbeam, Sunray

T Tappan, Thermador, Thermos

U Universal

V Vermont Casting, Vesta

W Waste King, Weber, Welbilt, West Bend, WhirlPool, White Westinghouse, Wilshire, Wolf


We have home electronics parts available for the following manufactures:

A- ADC, Advent, Acer, Aiphone, AIM, Aiwa, Akai, Akro-Mils, Alpine, Altec Lansing, Ambico, Antenna Craft, APC, Apex Digital, Apple, Audiovox

B- B & K, Bazooka, Belden, Bogen, Bosch, Bose, Boston, Brady, Broksonic, Brother, Bussman, ButtKicker

C- Cambridge, Canare, Cannon, Casio, Channel Master, Chemtronics, Chipquick, Clarion, Compaq, Computer, Connex, Crescent Tools

D- Daewoo, Delkin, Devices, Dell, Denon Electronics, Discwasher, Duracell

E Eazypower, Eclipse tools, Edsyn, E-Machine, Emerson, energizer, Epson, Eveready

F- Fisher, Fluke, Fuji, Funai

G- GC, Gateway, General Electric, Goldstar

H- Hakko, Harman/Kardon, HiCapacity, Hisense, Hitachi, Howard Sams, Hewlett Packard

I- IBM, Ideal, Infinity, InFocus, Insignia

J- JBL, Jensen, JTT, JVC

K- Kenwood, Kester, Kings, Kodak, Konica, Minolta

L- LeadeKossr, Lexmark, LG, Linksys, Lufkin Tools, Luxo

M- Madison Cable, MagLite, Magnavox, Master, Maxent, Metro/DataVac, Middle Atlantic,  Miracle Remote, Monster Cable, Motorola, Mueller, Multicore

N- NEC, Neutrik, Nite-Ize, NTE

O- Okidata, Olympus, Onkyo, Orion

P- Paladin Tools, Pan, Pacific, Panasonic  Panavise, Panduit, Philip, Philmore, Pioneer, Platt Luggage, Polaroid, Products/Datatel  Progressive Electronics

Proscan, Protek, Proview, Polk Audio

Q- Quasar, Quest Technology

R- Radio Design Labs, Razor, RCA, Recoton, RTS

S- Samsung, Sanyo/Fisher, Sector, Sencore, Sennheiser, Sharp, Shure, SimpleTech, Sony Parts & Accessories, Sony Pro Audio, Sony Recording Media, Switchcraft

T- Tech Spray, Techwood, Technics, Telex, Test-Um Inc, Toshiba, Thomson Exact Semiconductors, Toshiba America Imaging Systems, TPI, Tripplite

U- Ungar

V- Velleman, VeriFone, VDC, Video Mount Products, ViewSonic, Viore, Vivitek, Vizio

W- Wavetek, Weller, Wiha, Winegard

XYZ-  XCelite, Yamaha, Zenith

We  have Lawn & Garden equipment parts available for the following manufacturers:

A- Agri-Fab, Aircap, Atlas,  AutoSock, AYP/EHP/Electrolux

B- Bobcat/Bunton/Ryan, Briggs & Stratton, Brown Manufacturing

C- Champion, Classen

D- Dana (Foote)

E- ESA, Engine Service Association, E3


G- Gardenway, General Power, Generac

H- Honda Engines, Husqvarna, Hydro Gear, Hy-Pro



K- Kohler

L- Little Wonder

M- Mantis, Maruyama, McCulloch, MTD/Yardman, Murray

N- N2, NGK, Noma

O- Oregon, OEP Parts

P- Peerless, Poulan, Poulan, Pro


R- Robin Subaru, Ryobi (IDC)

S- SnowSport, Stanley, Swisher

T- Tecumseh, Thermoid, Troy-Bilt

U- Walbro


W- Weedeater, Windsor, Whit


How to Repair a Leaking Toilet?

Plumbing and Hardware Maple Grove, MN

Have you ever been brushing your teeth at night and suddenly you hear the toilet refill on its own. It’s what we here at LeVahn Bros. Plumbing like to call a “ghost flush”. A ghost flush occurs when the water that is in the tank leaks out and the tank refills itself .  A toilet is a simple mechanical device that can be explained as follows. The toilet bowl is the area that waste is deposited (i.e. the business end of the toilet that we are all to familiar with). The tank is on the back of the toilet and it’s job is to hold water that is going to be used to “flush” out the contents of the bowl. This is the behind the scenes workings of a toilet that confuse the bejesus out of us. When we flush a toilet we push down on the flush handle which lifts the flapper up allowing the water to enter the bowl and expel its contents. The same flush could be done with a bucket of water but that’s  a bit of a pain to have to refill each time. When the water level in the tank goes down, the fill valve turns on to bring the water back up to a preset level.

Toilet Tank

When a “ghost flush” occurs it is because water is leaving the tank. After a while the water level lowers in the tank until it reaches the point when the fill valve turns on to bring the water level back up. There’s only two places for the water to go when it leaves a tank. The first place it could go is that it’s leaking out of the toilet itself. If this is occurring you would probably see evidence of water on the floor or on the base of the toilet. The most likely causes of this are: 1) you have a crack in your tank. 2) you have water leaking out through the holes where the tank bolts are. 3) your tank to bowl gasket is leaking. If your tank is cracked we would recommend that you buy a new toilet. You could also attempt to seal it with a two-part epoxy that can be applied when the surface is wet. If you have a leak occurring through the tank to bowl bolts you will need to replace the washers under the bolts. To do this you will first need to shut the water off to the toilet. Then you will drain the tank by flushing the toilet and sponging out any remaining water. Finally remove and replace the old washers with new washers that you have already purchased from your local hardware store:) If your tank to bowl gasket is leaking you will need to un-bolt the tank from the bowl and remove the old gasket. Bring the gasket as well as any make and model info you have for your toilet to the hardware store and get a replacement.

note: There is no such thing as a “universal” tank to bowl gasket so you need to make sure you get something that matches the one you removed from your toilet.

The other, more common, reason for water leaving the tank is through a faulty flapper. Normally you can not see or hear the water leaking out past the flapper. It leaks so slowly that it’s hardly detectable be sight or sound. There is a simple solution that is very effective to figure out if this is your problem. At our store we have free leak detectors that you add to the tank of the toilet.

Leaky Toilet Test

All you have to do is open up the leak detector, place it in the tank and let it work its magic. Essentially all it does it turn the water in the tank blue. What this does is  it allows you to see if water is getting past the flapper without you flushing the toilet. If you leave the toilet alone WITHOUT FLUSHING IT and after a few hours there is blue water in the bowl, you know that water is leaking past your flapper. It will look something like the picture below.

Leaky Toilet Test

Once you find out that your flapper is the problem shut the water off to the toilet flush it and remove the old flapper. Bring the flapper with you when you go to buy a new one because like toilet tank gaskets there is no such thing as a universal flapper. We must have 20 to 30 flapper styles here at our store and there are still some other unique ones out there that we don’t carry.  There are many different styles, especially since the addition of low flow toilet to the market. Here’s an image of the most common one we sell. We’ve changed over to using blue vinyl flappers when available because we’ve found that they seem to outlast the traditional black rubber models.

Toilet Flapper

There are a few reasons why a flapper goes bad. One reason is that it’s just old. The rubber doesn’t last forever and eventually it gets water-logged and broken down. The other major reason for a flapper failing is from the use of chlorine tablets in the toilet tank. Chlorine tablets are an effective way to keep your bowl looking it’s best but they eat the rubber seals in a toilet away in no time. The flapper, tank to bowl washers, and fill valve seals all get eaten away by the chlorine. If you want a very effective alternative you can use Fluidmasters  “Flush and Sparkle” bleach cartridges. We use them here in the restrooms here at our store and they do a great job of keeping the toilet clean without introducing bleach into the toilet tank (You can see the cartridge attached to the back of the toilet tank in the picture at the top of this post).

Fluidmaster Flush and Sparkle Bleach Cartridge

If you can’t find your exact flapper there may be a models that’s close enough. You may also want to clean the edge where the flapper is seating against the tank to make sure there is no debris holding up the flapper allowing water to get past. The use of a non-scratch scouring pad is advised for doing this. Whatever you do make sure you talk to someone who knows what they’re doing at the store you go in to. Nothing drives me crazier and makes me more thankful for my employees then when people tell me how incompetent the help is at the big box stores.  If that’s your only option I say, good luck to you.

Additional blogs you may be interested in-What to do for a leaky toilet, What to do for a leaky water heater, How to repair a copper pipe leak, How to repair a dripping faucet

For more Information call 763-551-8990

Stop in and see us in the Bass Lake shopping center at 12700 Bass Lake Road, Maple Grove, MN 55369

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