American Standard Champion Toilet leaks have been an ongoing problem for them since their initial introduction as the toilet that would flush two dozen golf balls in a single flush. American Standard was right about the toilets flushing ability, the flush was a fantastic improvement over their older line of 1.6 gallon per flush toilets, many of which had MaP Report results listed of flushing only 200 grams of solids or, less per flush. Consumer Reports even gave the American Standard Champion their Best Buy Rating as the top rated toilet. However, for many Am. Std. Champion 1 owners, the excitement of having a good flushing toilet that didn’t need to have a plunger living next to it, was short lived when they discovered their Champion 1 was pouring hundreds of gallons of water down the drain because the “Accelerator” flush valve was leaking. The good news is that since American Standard has come out with the Champion 4 model line, there is now a decent repair, that probably won’t leak, and is easily fixed with commonly available parts that don’t have to be sent by the manufacturer after the initial upgrade of your toilet to the Champion 4 style flush valve, referred to as the Flowise Flush Valve used on other toilets in the American Standard line including the highly successful Cadet 3 Toilet.
When the Am. Std. Champion owner opened the tank lid to see why their toilet was leaking they found and unusual mechanism called a flush tower that was unlike anything ever seen on a toilet before. Many manufacturers have used the flush tower type design including the highly successful Mansfield toilets, the present Kohler Class 5 & Class 6, and some older American Standard models use a canister valve which which is similar in function to the flush tower. The American Standard Accelerator Flush Valve was a remarkable departure for these other designs with a complex release mechanism under the cap on the top consisting of magnet latches & springs which would release the tower when the handle was held allowing it to close at the end of the flush. As more customers experienced leaks the complaints rapidly climbed, and American Standard implemented several design changes to combat the leakage problems, culminating with the usage of the Flowise Flush Valve which, is available free of charge through American Standard under the 10 year warranty, a class action lawsuit was denied in the New Jersey courts.
The repair of a leaking American Standard Champion Toilet with the Flush Tower Style Valve is fairly simple. First call American Standard at 1-800-442-1902 to have them send you the new Flowise flush valve. Once the new flush valve is on hand the toilet tank will need to be removed from the bowl in order to replace the valve. If you are uncomfortable with doing this repair you could call a plumber to replace the valve but I would make sure that you have the new valve on hand first to avoid wasting the plumber’s time and additional charges for 2nd trips.
To remove the tank from the bowl, the first step is to shut off the water supply to the toilet at the stop valve usually located under the left side of the toilet tank, either coming out of the wall or, up through the floor. Once the water is shut off flush the toilet, then remove the tank lid, and place it in a safe spot where the lid will not fall and break, as replacement tank lids can be quite expensive. After removing the lid reach into the tank and lift the flush tower by hand to allow as much of the water as possible to drain from the tank into the bowl. Use a large sponge to soak up the remaining water in the tank while wringing out the sponge into the bowl until the tank is dry.
The next step is to disconnect the supply line from the fill valve and stop valve. A small amount of water will spill out when this is disconnected which can be caught with either a container placed under the valve or, a cotton rag. The supply line will need to be replaced as they are designed with seals for a one time use, I highly recommend using a flexible braided stainless steel supply line, as the Am. Std. Champion design of the tank to bowl connection allows a considerable amount of movement of the tank, which will break the seal on a rigid supply line. Make sure that you do not buy the Watts FloodSafe style braided stainless steel toilet supply as they have had a considerable amount of problems involving nuisance trips and failures resulting in considerable water damage.
After disconnecting the closet supply, the next step is to remove the tank from the bowl. To do this you will find the nuts for the tank to bowl bolts are recessed quite deeply into the bottom side of the bowl under the tank, so you will need either the tool that American Standard supplied originally with the toilet when new or, a 1/2” deep socket to reach up into the recess over the screw onto the nut, and a large straight blade screwdriver for the screw in the tank. Remove the nuts from both screws while being careful not to allow the tank to fall and break. Once the nuts are removed, lift the tank off the bowl, and place the tank in a safe place where you can work on it.
The next step is to remove the old tank to bowl screws and sealing washers from the tank, then remove the tank to bowl gasket off the bottom of the flush valve on the underside of the tank, which will reveal the large nut securing the flush valve in place. Inside the tank disconnect the chain from the handle to avoid breaking the handle when removing the flush valve. You may then remove the large nut securing the flush valve in place and slide the flush valve up out of the hole. Then clean the inside of the tank where the new flush valve gasket and seals for the tank to bowl bolts will land.
Take the new Flowise Flush Valve and place it in the tank through the hole in the bottom. Make sure the flush valve is properly turned so the overflow tube and chain are properly positioned, with the overflow to the rear of the tank where it will not interfere with the handle and chain, and the chain is in a position where the chain is properly angled, and will reach the handle. While holding the flush valve in the proper position place the large nut on the flush valve on the bottom side of the tank, and tighten the nut.
Once the large nut on the flush valve is tightened place the new tank to bowl bolts and seals through the holes in the tank where they belong, and place the new tank to bowl gasket over the bottom of the flush valve and the flush valve nut so the gasket is properly positioned. You are now finished with the tank and it is ready to go back onto the bowl.
While the tank is off the bowl take the time to clean off the top of the bowl where the tank will land. Hopefully you wont have access to do this again for a long time. Once the bowl is cleaned carefully take the tank and carry it back to the bathroom where you can carefully line up the tank to bowl screws and the tank to bowl gasket with the holes in the bowl while lowering the tank into position. Be careful to hold the tank in position without letting it fall and break while you use either the tool provided for the initial installation or the 1/2” deep socket to get the nuts started on the tank to bowl bolts securing the tank in place. Once both screws are started use the large screwdriver and the deep socket tightening the screws alternately and evenly until the tank is tightened down and secured in place. The Champion toilet has a considerable amount of movement allowing the tank to rock and you will not be able to tighten the tank to bowl connection enough to stop the rocking without breaking the tank or the bowl from over-tightening.
Once the tank is secured in place you may then attach the chain to the handle inside the tank with a slight amount of slack which allows the flapper to seat properly. Then take your new braided stainless steel closet supply and secure it onto the stop valve first then onto the bottom of the fill valve. Avoid using a supply line that is too short as the stretching and tank movement can cause failure and leaking. It is far better to have a longer line and a loop as long as it will not result in kinking than to have one that is too short and is stretched.
Once the the chain is on and the supply line is connected you are now ready to turn on the water and check the toilet for function and leaks. Turn on the water and observe the stop valve, supply connections, and tank to bowl connections for any leaks. If any are observed turn the water back off and repair any leaks found. Flush the toilet and observe the flapper for proper operation and check for any leaks again at the tank to bowl connection. If any leaks happen only while flushing they would be caused by the tank to bowl gasket not seating properly. The chain may require adjustment to ensure the flapper fully opens for a brief period while flushing then properly closes without leakage. Once all leak tests and function tests are passed the toilet is ready for use.
With this repair accomplished the toilet should be problem free or, at least pretty easy to fix again if it starts leaking again. In some areas of the country the seal used on the replacement flapper has had the rubber react badly with the chemicals used by water suppliers to keep the drinking water safe for use. Chlorine and Chloramines have in some cases caused the rubber used on the flapper seal on the Flowise Flush Valve to blister and leak. Replacing the flapper with a Korky # 3040BP flapper which is available at many locations will provide a long lasting repair with a much better resistance to Chlorine & Chloramines than the OEM flapper seal.