Toilet flushing problem...

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum' started by GeorgeD, Mar 12, 2012.

  1. Mar 12, 2012 #1

    GeorgeD

    GeorgeD

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    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?
     
  2. Mar 12, 2012 #2

    oldognewtrick

    oldognewtrick

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


    Oh, and :welcome: to House Repair Talk!
     
  3. Mar 13, 2012 #3

    itiswhatitis1

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    Sound like the vent mite be clogged.
     
  4. Mar 13, 2012 #4

    GeorgeD

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    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.
     
  5. Mar 13, 2012 #5

    inspectorD

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    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.;)
     
  6. Mar 13, 2012 #6

    GeorgeD

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    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.
     
  7. Mar 13, 2012 #7

    JoeD

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    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.
     
  8. Mar 14, 2012 #8

    GeorgeD

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    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.
     
  9. Mar 14, 2012 #9

    itiswhatitis1

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    How do you no that the vent not clogged. Or the water closet clogged.
     
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  10. Mar 15, 2012 #10

    GeorgeD

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    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...
     
  11. Mar 21, 2012 #11

    Puddlesx5

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    First what parts (guts) did you replace in the tank? Did you run the snake in the toilet or a toilet auger? You can ruin a toilet by running an auger or a snake through them.
     
  12. Mar 21, 2012 #12

    mintset

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    just wondering but is the fill-valve tube still squirting water down the over-flow tube in the tank? sometimes these come out/off and won't fill the bowl back up after a flush correctly until fixed. :D

    and earlier it was suggested to change the flapper. the reason (i think) it was suggested is because they will become water-logged and will cause the flapper to get extra heavy and WILL cause the flapper to fall/seal faster than normal and COULD cause a situation as you've described. just a suggestion. :)

    one more. have you tried flushing the toilet with a large bucket of water instead of the normal lever way? if you try this and you don't have any floaters then this usually means you don't have a clog and the problem lies elsewhere. jmo;)

    steve
     
  13. Mar 23, 2012 #13

    GeorgeD

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    I didn't replace any parts, since I don't see how the internal parts are responsible for the problem. I did run a toilet auger through it without any change in the flush.

    The small fill valve hose IS still squirting water into the overflow tube, so the bowl IS at an appropriate level before flushing.

    I can observe the flapper opening and closing as it should, so I know it's not causing the problem.

    I have used a bucket of water to flush that toilet and that works fine. Of course there is much more force to the water when pouring from a bucket.

    The only thing that makes sense to me is a partial blockage with something that can't get by the bend, like a tooth brush. That could slow down the water flow enough that the tank is empty before the water level in the bowl is funneled down to the point where the floaters reach the bottom and a pushed beyond. Since there is no more water to push them from above, the siphon breaks as the water reached the bottom before the floaters disappear.

    For the toilet to work properly, it seems to me that I need to either
    1) slow down the flow of water from the tank to the bowl or
    2) speed up the water flow from the bowl at the start of the flush.

    Since there is no way to do 1), I'm thinking the solution is 2). Since this toilet worked fine for 20 years, it seems to me it must be a partial blockage, but I just find that hard to picture. Within a few days, I'll be pulling the toilet, so then I'll know. I'm really hoping I find something because if I don't, I can't see any other answer other than a new toilet.

    It's sad when your great hope is to find something in a toilet!
     
  14. Mar 23, 2012 #14

    mintset

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    in your last post you mentioned that the bucket of water gave you a good flush. that screams to me that you might have clogged rim holes and or a clogged siphon hole, if you have one in the bowl.

    at any rate when you flushed with the bucket that is usually the same as, or close to, the force of water that is supposed to be delivered from the tank. it helps the siphon action needed. ;)

    slowing the water down from the tank is NOT the route to go. :rolleyes:

    just for giggles, why not use a small piece of a metal hanger or stiff wire and clean out the rim holes and the siphon hole, if your commode has one. these must be wide open to permit the full water pressure delivery needed for the flush to occur correctly. if the holes (even if they're not) are closed try pouring a gallon of vinegar down the over-flow tube located in the tank. this will help dissolve the mineral build-up. i would not flush for a few hours or over-night if possible. see what happens. :hide:

    steve
     
  15. Mar 23, 2012 #15

    JoeD

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    My next thought exactly.
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2012
  16. Mar 24, 2012 #16

    GeorgeD

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    I had previously looked at both those things. I thought I was going to have the answer with a clogged siphon hole, but I checked during a test flush and there was a strong stream of water from it. And I can see lots of water coming from all the rim holes.

    As I said early on, there IS a strong flush. That's what's so frustrating about this.

    When you flush, you see a buildup of water in the bowl at first, as the tank is dumping, and then a pretty strong funnel forms as the bowl empties with significant force. If you watch the toilet flush with nothing in the bowl, you'll swear there's nothing wrong with the toilet. It flushes the same way with a bucket of water.

    The problem is that small floaters go whipping around the top of the funnel and invariably one or two will remain as the siphon breaks. In fact, they sometimes disappear at the last second, and then reappear as the siphon breaks. A second flush can often give the same result.

    The only other thing I can say is that the fill valve on this toilet is very slow. It takes about 4 minutes for the tank to fill. We're on a well, but I've verified that there's plenty of water pressure and volume available, so it's the fill valve that makes it slow.

    So the water is not coming in very fast while the flapper is open. However, that really doesn't seem to be a factor in the flush, since the flapper closes when the tank is empty. There's plenty of water -- just none at the end of the flush when the bowl is finally getting empty. There is no water for extra push at the end. Looking at other working toilets, I see that there is still water coming from the tank when the bowl is bottoming out. With this toilet, that isn't the case.

    In fact, I just timed the flush. The flapper closed at 10 seconds, and the siphon broke at 11 seconds. I suppose it's possible that a fast fill valve would add enough water at the end to make a difference, but I doubt it, and I hate spending $25 on a new one, only to need a new toilet anyway.

    Using that toilet is always an adventure...
     
  17. Mar 24, 2012 #17

    JoeD

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    It should take less than 30 minutes to lift a toilet, tip it for a look and put it back. Just take it off and look/probe the hole from the bottom. You could have done it in the time you spend writing on this post.

    Turn off the water.
    Flush toilet and hold the handle to drain the tank.
    Use a plunger to push the water out of the bowl.
    Remove water line connection.
    Remove tank bolts.
    Lift and look.
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2012
  18. Mar 24, 2012 #18

    oldognewtrick

    oldognewtrick

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    Joe, it's the suspense. The murder mystery wouldn't be worth reading if they told you that the Colonel killed Mrs. Wiggins in the library with a lead pipe in the first chapter. Wait that was a board game I think....;)
     
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  19. Mar 24, 2012 #19

    mintset

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    OK GeorgeD. here's another thought for you to try, IF you've ever used (or a family member has used) the tank tablets, then this is a possible problem and should be checked as a part of your troubles.

    it is possible to have this happen. the tablet COULD find its way into the flush hole under the flapper.

    turn the water off to the toilet, flush, then lift the flapper and feel down the hole for remnants of a partially dissolved tank tablet inside. this can and does happen periodically. and if it should happen then of course this would keep the water from falling at a fast enough pace as is needed for a good flush. clean it out and you should be good to go.

    if no success after trying this, then pull the commode and inspect everything you can. GOOD LUCK!

    steve
     
  20. Jan 25, 2018 #20

    elbo

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    you aren't eating Styrofoam peanuts , are you ?
     

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