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GeorgeD 03-12-2012 04:56 PM

Toilet flushing problem...
I have a 25 year old toilet that worked well for 20 years. For the last 5 or so, it frequently leaves floaters behind! I'm baffled by the change, because it's not any of the issues you might tend to think it would be. It's not clogged and the water flushes down in a nice funnel action in a short amount of time. It flushes beautifully.

The issue seems to be that, when flushed, the tank empties too quickly into the bowl. Since there is no clog, the water level rises slightly, and the toilet starts flushing right away, but the water is swirling around in a circle - the floaters with it.. Then, once the back tank is empty, the funnel appears and the rest of the water quickly goes down, while swirling.

The problem seems to be that there is no water left to finish the flush when the water level reaches the bottom and air breaks the vacuum.

Looking at other toilets, I notice that when the water level reaches the bottom, there is still more water coming in from the top, so the flushing action continues, driving any floaters downward and into the trap. With this toilet, there is no final push. It seems like I need to slow down the flow of water from the tank to the bowl, so that the funnel appears earlier and there is still some water coming down when the bowl empties.

It doesn't seem like it could be the toilet itself, since it used to work fine, and it's clearly not clogged.

I'm thinking it has something to do with the mechanism, which I did replace back in time, but I can't see what replacing that will do. The flap opens, the water goes down, and the flap closes when the tank is virtually empty. That operation is like any other toilet I've worked on, and that's been a bunch (I used to be a contractor).

I really hate to buy a new toilet because I know this one should work. I'm tempted to buy new guts for it, but I hate to blow $30 and have the same issue. It seems like it needs to release the water from the tank more slowly, but I don't see how to do that. The flap is either opened or it's closed.

Does anyone have any ideas?

oldognewtrick 03-12-2012 05:19 PM

Try putting a new flapper in, they are fairly inexpensive.

Oh, and :welcome: to House Repair Talk!

itiswhatitis1 03-12-2012 06:09 PM

Sound like the vent mite be clogged.

GeorgeD 03-12-2012 08:41 PM

The vent is definitely not clogged. And I don't see what a new flapper will do. The flapper opens, and it closes when the tank is almost empty. It appears to be doing its function admirably. I can't think of anything else any flapper could do that would change the outcome, other than if it could cut down on the rate of flow somehow, so that the water in the tank drained more slowly into the bowl. But from what I see, any flapper is going to be open or closed, with very little in between. I'm just stumped.

inspectorD 03-13-2012 05:34 AM

I would check the level in the tank before you flush. The chain may also be bound up and closing the flapper to fast, or the flapper has lost it's floatability by collecting gunk and needs to be cleaned.
Last thing it could be is what your eating.;)

GeorgeD 03-13-2012 05:49 AM

The tank level starts out near the top. There is plenty of water and the flapper is allowing virtually all of it to be used, just as it should. The flapper is working properly and there is no problem with the chain.

The only thing I can think of is that there is partial blockage in the toilet or the drain pipe. That would allow the water to flow, but at a reduced rate, causing the tank to empty before the bowl, eliminating the last push of water that is needed.

However, I have run a snake through it and it made no difference.

I'm thinking my last resort, before buying a new toilet, is to pull it and bring it out in the back yard with a garden hose to make sure it's completely clear, and to make sure the drain is clear. It's right next to the stack, and there is a toilet above it on the second floor, so I'm doubting that's the problem. I'm hoping to avoid doing that, but I can't see any other approach that makes sense.

JoeD 03-13-2012 08:07 AM

Sounds like a partial clog not allowing the water get flowing fast enough to create the suction action. I just cleared one at work that looked like it was flushing but was just kind of slow. There was an employee badge(credit card size) stuck in the bend. Water would flow past but just not properly. A snake would just go past it.

Pull the toilet and look up in the bend and down the pipe.

GeorgeD 03-13-2012 08:38 PM

At this point, pulling the toilet and checking the trap is my plan. A partial blockage has been the only thing I could think of that seemed to make sense, and your experience gives me more confidence that's the problem.

I was hoping to avoid that but it looks like the only way to check this out. I just replaced the upstairs bathroom floor, so I will have to wait until I can reset the toilet up there before I can pull this one. I'll report what I find --- so to speak! Thanks for all the comments.

itiswhatitis1 03-14-2012 05:14 PM

How do you no that the vent not clogged. Or the water closet clogged.

GeorgeD 03-15-2012 06:08 AM

The vent is a 4" stack right next to the toilet, and there is a toilet above it on the same 4" line. I know there is no way that it's clogged.

The water in the bowl goes down with significant force and speed at the end of the flush. It's not like it hardly flushes. The problem is that as the water level bottoms out in the bowl, there is no water left from the tank to provide the final push from above.

A partial blockage, as JoeD suggested, does make sense. It would keep the water level in the bowl from dropping as quickly as it should at the beginning of the flush, which means the tank would be empty by the time the bowl is bottoming out - which is exactly what is happening.

That would explain everything. I had come to the same conclusion, but I just never could make myself believe that the partial clog has been there for years. But his comment of "an employee badge (credit card size) stuck in the bend" is making me wonder if perhaps something plastic has been down there for years.

We'll see. I'm still waiting for some tile to arrive before I can reset the upstairs toilet. Once I have that done, I'll pull the toilet and let you know...

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