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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Leaky Seals

I have an older Thetford toilet and the bowl is leaking water. I took it to the repair shop and they claimed there was toilet tissue in the groove. It held water for about a month while it was not in use. Then while camping this weekend the water started draining out again. Any suggestions as to how I may fix this problem without having to take it back to the shop?
Betty, (Austin, TX)

Betty, it’s actually quite common for Thetford toilets to develop this problem over time. The situation is caused, in most cases, by foreign matter becoming trapped in the groove for the slide blade as your repair shop mentioned. It is possible they did not or could not remove all the debris inside the flushing mechanism groove. In severe cases the mechanism must be removed from the toilet and disassembled, cleaned, lubed and reassembled. Before reverting to that unpleasant extreme, fashion a hook out of a coat hanger or a bent screwdriver that will reach into the groove to scrape out the residue. Take special care not to damage the rubber seals. There is one located above the slide (see photo) and one below the slide blade. Do this repetitively until no more waste or tissue can be removed. Flush the toilet a few times, then lube the slide with a non-corrosive, petroleum-free lubricant like a Teflon lubricant or something similar. It takes a little bit of determination to remove all the debris. Perhaps your service facility did not exert enough patience the first time around. 

To check your results, fill the toilet bowl with water and mark the level with a light pencil mark on the inside of the bowl. Simply let it stand for thirty minutes or so and see if any water seeps past the slide blade. If it did, the only recourse is the disassembly procedures. I mentioned earlier Thetford does provide a packaged repair kit for this task which includes all the necessary seals, screws, etc. Unless the plastic slide blade itself or the internal cavity have been physically damaged, disassembling, cleaning and lubing is usually all that is necessary, however unpleasant that may be in and of itself.


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