slow draining toilet

Reply

  #1  
Old 04-02-15, 10:05 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 161
slow draining toilet

We just moved into this house. The upstairs toilet (part of a 2006 2nd floor dormer extension) worked fine when we first moved in (1 month ago) but has become slow to drain. The toilet has already plugged a couple of times and we had to use a plunger.

I snaked it yesterday (25' snake) and there did not appear to be any blockage.

This morning when my wife used it (first use in ~8 hours), it refused to drain and overflowed all over the floor requiring us to shut off the water valve.

I snaked it again and the water in the bowl drained but I couldn't feel a blockage.

Just now I stuffed a towel into the bowl and used a shop vac to see if I could dislodge anything. Below is a video from first flush after, it is flushing but definitely slower than when we first moved in, there isn't much of a vortex and there is a bubbling sound at the end.

There is a sink in the same bathroom which is slightly higher than the toilet, running the sink doesn't cause any bubbling in the toilet.

Either the jets in the toilet are at fault (which doesn't seem to fit this mornings refusal to drain at all) or I'm suspecting a venting problem. Any comments or suggestions? If it is the vent I don't much fancy getting up on the roof as I'm not keen on heights.

link to video:

 
Sponsored Links
  #2  
Old 04-02-15, 10:53 AM
czizzi's Avatar
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: USA
Posts: 7,357
Likes Received: 6
Fill the sink all the way up with water and then unstop it while covering up the overflow holes. Does the sink still drain efficiently? Take a 5 gallon bucket of water and dump it directly into the toilet. Does it flush any better? Does any water back up in a shower/tub if in the same room? Does that drain correctly?
 
  #3  
Old 04-02-15, 11:17 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 161
I can't tell if it's being slow to drain now. I couldn't find a 5 gallon bucket, only a 2 1/2 gallon. It takes about 6 seconds from when I finish pouring the water (from 2' above bowl) for the toilet to finish draining. The toilet is 1.6g per flush and it takes about the same time to drain (timed from when tank has emptied).

I filled the sink, it drains well with and without the overflow covered.

There is a shower. It drains very well. No water backs up into shower when 2 1/2 gallons is pouted into toilet.
 
  #4  
Old 04-02-15, 11:59 AM
Group Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: NC, USA
Posts: 19,824
Likes Received: 71
No, you don't need to time how long it takes a bucket of water to drain. You quickly dump the bucket into the bowl. What you're doing is forcing it to flush. If you get a nice flush with the bucket of water it could indicate a problem with the holes in the rim of the bowl, the flush valve or an obstruction between the two. If the toilet backs up and is slow to drain or has a poor flush with the bucket of water then you know it's either in the trap of the toilet or something in the drain line.

Do you have young children or anyone that might put improper things in a toilet?
 
  #5  
Old 04-02-15, 12:05 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 161
Yes, we have an 18 month old. Next time it's being very slow to flush I'll take a video and also take one with a 5g bucket.
 
  #6  
Old 04-02-15, 12:21 PM
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: WI/MN
Posts: 19,215
Likes Received: 33
We have to remove an item every year or two which has been flushed and causing a partial/intermittent blockage. Have to pull the stool and flip it over to get the item out of the trap. I believe this is why Dane asked about kids flushing items.
 
  #7  
Old 04-02-15, 12:45 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 161
Yeah, it's entirely possible he's dropped something in there. I couldn't feel anything when snaking, went through the trap easily. It would make the most sense as it was working fine and everything else seems fine.

So I need to remove the bowl? And reinstall? Never done this before. Does it require a new wax-ring or can I reuse if I'm careful?
 
  #8  
Old 04-02-15, 01:24 PM
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Wet side of Washington state.
Posts: 18,407
Likes Received: 2
Did you use a regular drain snake or a closet (toilet) auger? From what I read a regular snake will often pass right by an obstruction in a toilet trap whereas the auger is more likely (not guaranteed) to catch.

Yes, you would need to replace the wax seal, they are a one-shot deal. Or you could try the Sani Seal replacement. Some members have tried the Sani Seal and really like it. It is quite a bit more expensive than the wax seal but it can be reused and it is much more forgiving to a person that has never set a toilet. About ten dollars at the big box mega-mart homecenter vs. a couple of bucks for the wax.

Sani Seal Toilet Gasket :: No Mess - Waxless ? Repositionable
 
  #9  
Old 04-02-15, 01:34 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 161
Regular drain snake. See link below. It's not ideal for toilets, not least of all because it mars the finish on the porcelain though that completely cleans up with some Barkeepers Friend.

If there is an alternate product, better suited for toilets I'd appreciate the recommendation. We have two rental properties in addition to this one and eventually I expect I'll have to unblock a toilet when a plunger fails.

I' originally bought the Harbor Freight tool for unblocking gutter drains for which it is very effective.

25 Ft. Drain Cleaner With Drill Attachment
 
  #10  
Old 04-02-15, 01:44 PM
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Wet side of Washington state.
Posts: 18,407
Likes Received: 2
Here is a closet auger at Home Depot. RIDGID 3 ft. Toilet Auger-59787 - The Home Depot

And here is a YouTube on how to use it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4oyfjKLXwHk
 
  #11  
Old 04-02-15, 01:49 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 161
How is this different from what I have? The metal bulb on the end looks identical. Only difference is the one you showed is hand powered.
 
  #12  
Old 04-02-15, 03:04 PM
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Wet side of Washington state.
Posts: 18,407
Likes Received: 2
All I know is what I read in the papers. (Do a Google for that quotation.) Every single plumber I have spoken with in person, or any that have posted here, has said a closet auger is far superior to a regular drain snake in clearing toilet traps. I have personally never used any kind of snake or auger on a toilet.
 
  #13  
Old 04-02-15, 03:06 PM
Group Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: NC, USA
Posts: 19,824
Likes Received: 71
Toy balls and large doll heads in toilets can be a real problem. If they are the right size they disappear from the bowl but are too big to make it out the exit side of the trap so they become trapped in the toilet. A snake slides around and past the ball so you'd swear there is nothing in there. One of the cameras on a flexible wand can see inside.



If you don't have an inspection camera you can remove the toilet and take it outside. Set it on a couple bricks so water can exit freely and repeat the bucket of water test. If it backs up or flushes weak then there is something in the toilet's trap.

Also while you have the toilet removed you have great access to the drain line for snaking if needed. You can also test the drain piping by carefully pouring your bucket of water down the pipe as fast as you can. If it's clear it should take it as fast as you can pour it.
 
  #14  
Old 04-02-15, 03:13 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 161
I have one of those cameras, I'll take a look.

I'm not trying to argue on the snake vs auger. I was hoping someone could inform me of how one is better, as I said, the ends look identical.
 
  #15  
Old 04-02-15, 04:02 PM
lawrosa's Avatar
Super Moderator
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Galivants Ferry SC USA
Posts: 17,722
Likes Received: 2
That little snake you have is too flimsy... An auger is thicker and more powerful..

Im a plumber with 30 years exp. get an auger..

From your vid there is something in the toilet it would seem...
 
  #16  
Old 04-02-15, 04:13 PM
Member
Join Date: May 2007
Location: USA
Posts: 57
I'll jump on this bandwagon as our toilet has been having problems very similar (identical?) to those described by the OP. I've attempted many of the same remedies including plunging, snaking using both a regular drain snake and closet (toilet) auger.

We do get a considerable build-up of mineral deposits that I regularly remove (mechanically and using mild acids) but there is, most likely, similar build up in other areas to which one doesn't have easy access. I tried reaming out the rim holes using a hangar, run enzyme based drain cleaners fed via the cistern. (Have not yet tried harsher chemical drain cleaners). Just after reading this post I filled the sink with water, unstopped it while covering up the overflow hole and it still drained well.

I should also mention that..
..there are no issues with the tub or sink
..there is a toilet directly below this one that flushes fine and
..to the best of my knowledge, the only times it backed up there were "solids" involved.

Nearly all winter (at least, the past 2-3 months) I've kept a bucket in the tub which I used to "manually flush". I don't recall with certainty but while doing so, I don't think there were any backups. If there were it was very, very few. Feeling confident that any blockage there may have been has since cleared, today I tried flushing normally (using the handle). Up it came all over the floor (...and down into the basement).

I'm puzzled by this for several reasons.

I wondered if it was possible that having the float in a "water saving mode" alone could cause this but trying to replicate it using bucket (pouring slower with less water) still gives an acceptable flush.

Many emphasize the importance of the jet's swirling pattern. Though the holes are not entirely clogged I don't doubt that there may be some degree of buildup inside and I am now leaning toward this as the problem but, again, when I successfully flush by dumping in a bucket, I'm not pouring in a way that creates any swirling vortex. If it is the jets in the toilet that are at fault, am I correct to assume that the solution is to either remove and thoroughly (inside and out) acid wash the toilet or install a new toilet?

If not, then what?
I'm out of ideas. I look forward to your input and suggestions.

Thanks in advance.
 

Last edited by ActionClaw; 04-02-15 at 04:34 PM.
  #17  
Old 04-02-15, 04:24 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 161
actionclaw: I've read people putting a large sponge in a plastic bag and stuffing this down into the toilet so it seals but doesn't enter the trap. Then fill the toilet with suitable solution to dissolve deposits. Leave for 12 hours.

The fact that this morning our toilet totally overflowed rather that just slowly drained leads me to believe I have a blockage rather than a jet issue. I guess I could try dumping a bucket into the toilet when it's in this state but that sounds like a recipe for a massive flood.
 
  #18  
Old 04-02-15, 05:45 PM
lawrosa's Avatar
Super Moderator
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Galivants Ferry SC USA
Posts: 17,722
Likes Received: 2
If it was calcium build up then it would be a long process. It would not, just not flush one day.

An auger should do the trick..

After you auger throw some wads of toilet paper in there. If something is still in there the toilet paper will get caught and clog it again..This is the toilet paper test...

Sometimes a simple plunger will work...
 
  #19  
Old 04-02-15, 05:52 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 161
An auger should do the trick..

After you auger throw some wads of toilet paper in there. If something is still in there the toilet paper will get caught and clog it again..This is the toilet paper test...

Sometimes a simple plunger will work...
Thanks, I'll go to Home Depot tonight and buy that Ridgid auger. We have a pretty good plunger but it's not having any effect (this time).
 
  #20  
Old 04-02-15, 06:29 PM
Member
Join Date: May 2007
Location: USA
Posts: 57
dorkshoei
a large sponge in a plastic bag and stuffing this down into the toilet so it seals but doesn't enter the trap.
Normally, I just shut off the water to the tank, bail out as much as possible then suck up the remainder with sponge or rags. Either way, this only addresses the bottom of the bowl. I need something to retain that deposit dissolving solution inside the rim/jet area which is why I was thinking, at least, toilet upside down or, ideally, completely submerged. Still, the bagged sponge plug is a good idea that may prove useful.

...our toilet totally overflowed ...I guess I could try dumping a bucket into the toilet when it's in this state but...
Yikes! To be clear, I would certainly never suggest adding another 5 gallons to a toilet that's already backed up! I meant using the bucket for the primary flush the advantage being that if or when it seems it's beginning to back up you can simply stop pouring. Flushing using the handle is going to deliver the entire tank contents ...whether you want it or not!

Pilot Dane
If you get a nice flush with the bucket of water it could indicate a problem with the holes in the rim of the bowl, the flush valve or an obstruction between the two.
You described my situation. Can you please expand on all three; particularly what type of problem with the flush valve would result in a back up?

Thanks
 
  #21  
Old 04-02-15, 07:23 PM
Member
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 3,408
Likes Received: 4
Hint: If you lift off the toilet tank lid then you can flush using the tank handle and then reach in and push the flapper down so you don't deliver the entire tank contents if you don't want to.
 
  #22  
Old 04-03-15, 09:44 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 161
Either way, this only addresses the bottom of the bowl. I need something to retain that deposit dissolving solution inside the rim/jet area which is why I was thinking, at least, toilet upside down or, ideally, completely submerged. Still, the bagged sponge plug is a good idea that may prove useful.
I don't see this. The point, as I understood it, was to fill the bowl to the very top, right upto the top of the rim. I guess it depends where any deposits have formed on the jets.
 
  #23  
Old 04-03-15, 11:30 AM
Member
Join Date: May 2007
Location: USA
Posts: 57
..The point, as I understood it, was to fill the bowl to the very top, right up to the top of the rim. I guess it depends where any deposits have formed on the jets.
OK, I see what you're saying. Yes, that would also work.It would just require a lot more.

For example, when I clean the bottom and lower sides of the bowl I apply paper towels dampened with the acid solution to the bowl surfaces, periodically rewetting. This technique requires, maybe, 4 ounces or so. One could, instead, fill the bowl to accomplish the same thing but this would require several gallons which would be unnecessary, wasteful, more expensive (by about 70 times), and in my case, possibly that much more harmful to the septic system.

In this case, it is tempting to avoid having to remove and reinstall the toilet but considering the possibility of it spilling, leaking, eating through who-knows-what not to mention the inevitable fumes having a huge bowl of acid in the house doesn't seem (to me) so attractive. I think it'd be better done outdoors.

We may be jumping the gun here anyway. I'm still hoping that someone here with more experience than I will point out some quick simple solution that I'm overlooking.
 
  #24  
Old 04-03-15, 11:54 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 161
We may be jumping the gun here anyway. I'm still hoping that someone here with more experience than I will point out some quick simple solution that I'm overlooking.
No flame but you may get better answers starting your own thread. Camping on someone elses tends to cause confusion and may not get you the answers you hope for.
 
  #25  
Old 04-03-15, 12:56 PM
czizzi's Avatar
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: USA
Posts: 7,357
Likes Received: 6
Inspect the holes under the rim with a hand held mirror and clean out with Q-tips.

It is probably fair to say that the toilet needs to be pulled and inspected. Last time this happened to me, it was a small triangle of door casing I had cut off when preparing trim and it fell into the toilet sitting in the garage ready to install. It was caught up right at the exit from the toilet underneath, Just dangling there but stuck none the less.
 
  #26  
Old 04-04-15, 12:58 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 161
I purchased the Ridgid auger, I see now the difference between it and the Harbor Freight snake. It was not clear from the Home Depot photo how huge the Ridgid is.

Having a problem though, I can't get the Ridgid auger to go more than about 6", it just catches and spins. I ran the inspection camera in and I think the opening visible is what I highlighted in red (arrow), rather than the bend heading back down. All I'm doing turning it now is making a mess of the porcelain.

Had a bad solids block today. It was 100% blocked. I had to turn water off to prevent an overflow. It was level with top of bowl. I left it for 3 hours and level didn't drop at all during that time. I had to shop vac it out.

Pics attached.
 
Attached Images    
  #27  
Old 04-04-15, 03:04 PM
Group Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: NC, USA
Posts: 19,824
Likes Received: 71
I don't know what Rigid auger you were trying but a large auger will probably not make it through the tight bends of a toilet trap. It's a good application for a toilet auger.

It's a long thread at this point but... have you pulled/removed the toilet yet?

If not buy a selection of toilet wax rings and a set of 5/16" toilet hold down bolts. If your wax rings come with bolts they are piddley 1/4" which I don't like to use but they make a nice sound when you throw them in the garbage. Basically get anything you might need so you have it on hand and you can return what you don't need when you're done.

Turn off the water to the toilet. Flush it, plunge it and sponge out as much water as you can. Then put some cardboard on the floor so you have a place to set the toilet. Remove the nuts holding the toilet down. Straddle it and lift. Then waddle or shimmy to set the toilet on the cardboard. Then try pouring a big bucket of water down the drain pipe as fast as you can. If if flows freely it's possibly a toilet problem. If it backs up then it's a drain problem. Either way having the toilet removed is the best way to access the drain line and the toilet for removing the obstruction.
 
  #28  
Old 04-04-15, 03:19 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 161
I don't know what Rigid auger you were trying but a large auger will probably not make it through the tight bends of a toilet trap. It's a good application for a toilet auger.
I bought the one suggested in post #10. Ridgid 3' Toilet Auger.

RIDGID 3 ft. Toilet Auger-59787 - The Home Depot

The bulb on the end is huge compared to the Harbor Freight drain snake I pictured in post #9. I don't appear to be able to get the Ridgid to make it around the 180 degree bend, also based on the inspection camera image there appears to be another opening (red arrow in previous attached pictures) that it wants to go down.

If I have to take the toilet off, I'm unsure why I bothered buying the Ridgid.
 
  #29  
Old 04-06-15, 12:54 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 161
I will remove the toilet (per Pilot Dane's advice two posts below). I just haven't yet had the time.

Independently of this, can anyone give me some guidance on using the Ridgid 3' Toilet Auger? It's huge and if it doesn't work with some toilets I'm probably going to take it back as I don't want to have to store something that doesn't work.

Like I said below, I inserted the camera into the toilet but it wouldn't advance any further than the first bend upwards (the head doesn't have sufficient flex). I can see an opening directly ahead but I don't think that is the trap, as from the outside the trap makes a 180 degree bend downwards just ahead of this point. Whatever this opening is the bulb appears to be getting caught up on it rather than making the 180 bend downwards.

I was pushing and turning clockwise per the instructions but all that would happen is that it would jam about 6" in, I could tell after a couple more turns that the bulb was stuck and all I was doing was twisting the flexible line; then it would snap free under the tension and the whole process would repeat. I think this accounts for much of the damage to the porcelain pictured.

I'm just trying to determine if I'm misusing it, otherwise as I said above I'll probably just return it.

I was able to run the Harbor Freight snake all 25' of it's length but it's a lot more flexible.

Thanks!
 
  #30  
Old 04-06-15, 02:34 PM
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Wet side of Washington state.
Posts: 18,407
Likes Received: 2
Go back to post #10 and watch the YouTube I linked to as well as a few other YouTube videos that will come up. If the auger still "hangs up" then you have something hard securely stuck in the trap.
 
  #31  
Old 04-06-15, 05:28 PM
lawrosa's Avatar
Super Moderator
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Galivants Ferry SC USA
Posts: 17,722
Likes Received: 2
  #32  
Old 04-07-15, 02:05 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 161
Believe it or not, I did watch the referenced videos before posting the last question There really isn't any info in the video that's not on the product instruction card.

The way it looks to me, it's not making it around the final 180 degree bend yet there is no hangup prior to this (according to the inspection camera). But I digress.

As I said, I plan to remove the toilet. Assuming this resolves the issue, we'll see if the closet auger then works or still hangs up.
 
  #33  
Old 04-07-15, 03:47 PM
lawrosa's Avatar
Super Moderator
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Galivants Ferry SC USA
Posts: 17,722
Likes Received: 2
It should make it around the trap.. You may have something lodged in there.. Dont know..



I once had a heck of a time with a toilet. Auger it and it kept clogging. Several call backs...uggg.

Did several toilet paper tests and knew something was in there. Pulled toilet and saw nothing at the horn...

Finally I reassured the homeowner to purchase and install another toilet. When I take the toilet outside I will smash it at the trap to see whats there.. I told him I am 99.9% sure there is something in there..

If there is nothing I will give you 1/2 off the total bill.. He agreed..

Took toilet out, smashed the trap with hammer, and in it was a baby rattle .. wedged in the top of trap.. No way it was coming out or going down...

I have pulled out mini vases, water bottles, cleaning brushes, hair brushes, combs, dolls....etc.... you name it I have seen it all...
 
  #34  
Old 04-11-15, 09:49 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 161
Stuck in final bend. One of the tank bolts was totally seized, stripped head inside tank, had to hack saw it off. Fun way to spend a Saturday night. Thanks for everyone's help.
 
Attached Images  
  #35  
Old 04-11-15, 09:58 PM
lawrosa's Avatar
Super Moderator
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Galivants Ferry SC USA
Posts: 17,722
Likes Received: 2
LOL are you saying that cleaning brush was in toilet? Where?
 
  #36  
Old 04-11-15, 10:24 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 161
See previous, stuck in final bend. Its a finger nail scrubbing brush. I drove it out from underside using auger. I was convinced it wasn't blocked as after removing a 5 gallon bucket of water ran through without overglowing
 
  #37  
Old 04-11-15, 10:45 PM
lawrosa's Avatar
Super Moderator
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Galivants Ferry SC USA
Posts: 17,722
Likes Received: 2
I was convinced it wasn't blocked as after removing a 5 gallon bucket of water ran through without overglowing
Yes...LOL water will flow fine. You need to do a paper test as I said before....Post #18

But glad its fixed...

Ummm champion 4 toilet for replacement down the road.....
 
  #38  
Old 04-12-15, 08:02 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 161
Ummm champion 4 toilet for replacement down the road.....
Dont understand above.

Also is it normal to caulk round the base of bowl (to tile) after re-installation?
 
  #39  
Old 04-12-15, 09:35 AM
lawrosa's Avatar
Super Moderator
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Galivants Ferry SC USA
Posts: 17,722
Likes Received: 2
Champion 4 toilets from American standard are one of the best toilets IMO. I use and install them..

I ststed this incase you are looking for an upgrade. After all your toilet looks all scratched up..

Yes it is code to caulk around the base of the toilet...
 
  #40  
Old 04-13-15, 11:33 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 161
Champion 4 toilets from American standard are one of the best toilets IMO. I use and install them..
I ststed this incase you are looking for an upgrade. After all your toilet looks all scratched up..
We bought Toto Promenade for our old house, I really liked them.

This is a Kohler 1.6gpf, based on the triangular gasket between tank and bowl the plumbing store said it was quite old [two previous design generations they said - though it has to be newer than 2005 as that was when the bathroom was added).

It is indeed scratched up inside the trap, due to me thinking the auger wasn't working. Dumb. I'm not sure if this actually impacts anything or if it's just invisible cosmetics.
 
Reply

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Display Modes