Toliet Problem

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum' started by tndave, Jan 16, 2012.

  1. Jan 16, 2012 #1

    tndave

    tndave

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    I have an old house (1945+later additions) the bathroom waste goes to a septic tank, while all of the other waste water drains straight into a field. It’s been about two years since I had the tank pumped. We’ve been having trouble with the toilet flushing lately. The bathroom sink & tub drain just fine, but sometimes the toilet will swirl & fill up then slowly go down & some times it flushes ok. Usually if you flush a couple of times it starts working ok. This can even happen first thing in the morning when nobody has used it or taken a shower for hours. When you take a shower you can hear the sink gurgling & sometimes the toilet will flush by its self when you’re taking a shower…but water don’t back up in the tub when you’re taking a shower. Today when the toilet wouldn’t flush (bowl filled & wouldn’t go down) I filled the sink with water & pulled the plug & the sink drained quickly. This has been going on for about two months on & off. I flushed a months worth of “Rid-X” treatment about a month ago, following up with another months worth two weeks later. I have been flushing a pack of bread yeast or sometimes brewer’s yeast about once a month for about a year now. I’m hoping I don’t have to pump the tank, because I can’t really afford it right now…any suggestions?

    Thanks!!
    Dave
     
  2. Jan 16, 2012 #2

    paul52446m

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    Have you checked to see if all your vents that go through the roof are clear and not plugged up. Paul
     
  3. Jan 16, 2012 #3

    inspectorD

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    I agree, sounds like a venting issue. OR...if you have kids, it could be GI joe stuck in the trap.

    Basics of venting...put a straw in your glassfull of water, Then put your finger over the top of the straw and remove the straw. The water stays in the straw. Remove your finger and the water exits the straw.

    I had a problem of my vent pipe condensating and freezing on an outside wall in a 1840's home I used to own. The toilet would flush some days and not others, but the sink and tub would work. After I thought about it, it was because the tub had HOT water and the vent would defrost. Toilets only have warm. Anyway, that was my issue.:2cents:
     
  4. Jan 16, 2012 #4

    woodchuck

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    Adjust the water level of the toilet tank to high and see if that is the problem. You can then gradually lower the level to where it still works to save water but low tank water level will cause the symptoms you describe.
     
  5. Jan 16, 2012 #5

    Redwood

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    I'll disagree that it is a venting issue...

    I'd start by checking the line out of the house to see if it is holding water by looking in a cleanout if you have one or, digging the tank and checking the flow from the toilet to the tank.

    I'm thinking that you have a clogged line or, septic tank problem but if the line is clear and not holding water it would be a toilet problem...

    Hard to say without being there checking things out...
     
  6. Jan 16, 2012 #6

    Dionysia

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    Is there a correlation between flushing solids vs liquids? and can you access your waste line?

    We had a toilet once that took 2 or 3 flushes on solids but liquids were just fine.Turned out the waste line directly underneath the toilet was not a straight shot, plus there were some tree roots further down the line. When things started to get hung up, the toilet wouldn't flush right.
     
  7. Jan 16, 2012 #7

    isola96

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    To clear the venting issue any noises from sink in bath when toilet flushes? Or does it bubble up alot when it does flush?
     
  8. Jan 17, 2012 #8

    tndave

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    Doesn't matter if it's solid or liquid only. The sink & shower don't make noises when the toilet is flushed, but the sink makes noises & some times toilet will flush by its self when taking a shower. Tank level is high, it has over flowed if you do a second flush too quickly. But, you can take a nice long shower with Zero back up in the tub...

    Thanks!!
     
  9. Jan 17, 2012 #9

    Redwood

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    Noises clarify nothing!

    Quite often vents stop working with a flooded line. IE Clog...

    Additional troubleshooting is needed.
     
  10. Jan 17, 2012 #10

    isola96

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    With all respect Redwood if you have a tiger growling in your sink or you have a big bubble shoot up in toilet when flushing its a vent issue not saying this is just for feature reference :)
     
  11. Jan 18, 2012 #11

    Redwood

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    No disrespect taken, venting is one of the most misunderstood parts of plumbing...

    Fixtures will drain quite well without any venting at all, and in many cases too well which brings us to the reason for venting. Venting protects the trap seal by allowing air to break the siphon keeping water in the trap after the drain is used. S-traps are a prime example of this especially that toilet flushing noise at the end of the draining with the water being sucked out of the trap.

    The only time a fixture will not drain due to venting is if the drain is going to a closed container where air needs to escape in order for the liquid to enter the container. This would include things like a sealed sewage ejector pit. Certain conditions may mimic this such as a clogged line, double trapping, or a severe belly in the line in which venting may mask the symptoms of the underlying problem. Sewers will accept waste without any problems unvented as will most septic tanks.

    Here are a couple of You Tube Video's done by a Tech School Plumbing Teacher in New Hampshire to illustrate vented vs. unvented sink drainage on a mockup in his classroom.

    [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RA2LHLT26aE]vent or no vent - YouTube[/ame]

    [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vnbuoy4IYl8]drain (trimmed) - YouTube[/ame]

    As you can see the difference between vented and unvented draining is insignificant.

    The venting of fixtures often relies on the flow of air through the pipes connecting the fixtures together. When pipes become flooded due to a clog air will bubble up in numerous fixtures throughout the home depending on the design of the drainage system and the extent the pipes are filled as vents are cut off by water in the pipes.

    Something not draining is caused by a clog and almost never caused by venting except under the conditions I outlined earlier.

    In the case a toilet the design of the toilet itself is that of an unvented fixture with a s-trap and the air gulp at the end of each flush is the trap siphoning dry. Of course the trap seal is replenished by the fill valve as the tank refills after flushing. The toilet not flushing will prove to be one of 3 causes and venting is not one of them.
    • There is insufficient water going into the bowl from the tank to cause a proper flush. The internal passages of the toilet may be blocked slowing the flow rate, the tank water level may be too low or, a badly worn or, improper flapper is closing too soon.
    • There is a clog or, restriction within the trapway of the toilet.
    • There is a clog in the drain line from the toilet.

    Additional troubleshooting or, information is needed before any correct answer can be given.
     
  12. Jan 18, 2012 #12

    isola96

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    Interesting,.... but when water goes down the drain it will need air or water will bubble up for air hence the weird sounds in sink or tub it won't bubble up in sink or tub it will bubble up in toilet because that is we're the water is at that point if the vent is clogged it would be clogged at the T connection this does happen another way to check is to go on the roof and hear the water running through the top of the vent. A better demonstration is to fill a water bottle up turn it upside down and open the cap what will happen? Bubbles for air, the do the same step but cut a hole in the bottom when upside down release the cap there won't be bubbles for air.
     
  13. Jan 18, 2012 #13

    nealtw

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    Last year we had people move into there new house up the street. They compained to the builder about load noises in the plumbing and the vents were checked three times in a week. When sewer backed up into to the tub they started looking for a blockage and found a callopsed pipe near the connection at the road.
    Two lessons were learned 1. when the tub is half full, do not flush the toilet one more time.
    2.When main floor plumbing is plugged, it may not be a good idea to open clean out in the basement.
     
  14. Jan 19, 2012 #14

    Redwood

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    The inverted bottle example does not apply in this situation because the fixtures are open to atmospheric pressure at the top and are not closed.

    The bubbles are trapped air within the filling clogged drain pipe being forced out through fixtures.
     
  15. Jan 19, 2012 #15

    Dionysia

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    Gotta love the toilet humor! :clap:
     
  16. Jan 19, 2012 #16

    nealtw

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    Doinysia;
    Would be funny if it wasn't what happened.
     
  17. Jan 20, 2012 #17

    isola96

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    @ redwood, then the clog would have to be at the top of the vent pipe for the fixtures to use the air that's all ready in the stack to work fine is what you are saying?!
    Therefore the video of demo is no good cuz they use the air in the line to drain the water. I have had plumbers state that the bottle hole effect is exactly how a vent works along with gas and air, I have also seen the example done on ask this old house.
    Each fixture has a trap by code therefore it will not grab air from out side the fixtures and that's why u need a vent stack.
    The toilet it's self is a trap there for the bubble will release a bubble or air.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2012
  18. Jan 20, 2012 #18

    paul52446m

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    Well i am not a plumber, I am heating and boiler.
    I do know what happened in my own house
    New 3" pvc main 44' long, one main vent at the end, 4" through the roof.
    All fixtures less than 5' off the main.
    20 degrees below 0 for almost two weeks. All sinks , tube, and toilets drained real slow and making all kinds of gurgling noise. I new right away what was wrong. Went up on roof and that 4" vent was frosted up closed, cleared it and every thing worked fine. There was no plug's in my one year old system that goes to city sewer. Paul
     
  19. Jan 20, 2012 #19

    Redwood

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    As I stated your bottle description does not apply as the fixtures are open to atmospheric pressure. Now if you want to install an air tight cover over the sinks, toilet bowl, etc. then you can use it...

    As I stated venting is misunderstood by many and that includes plumbers.
     
  20. Jan 20, 2012 #20

    Redwood

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    Right! You had noises in the drain because of the loss of vent protection for the trap seal. But water still drained from the fixtures.

    I'm not saying that vent clogs don't happen, especially this time of year with frost closure. But drain problems are drain problems and vent problems are vent problems. The OP has a fixture that will not drain so there is a clogged drain, when a drain is clogged and lines are flooded vents may stop working properly if the flooding blocks the vent. Lack of a properly functioning vent will not in most cases cause a lack of drainage unless the line is draining to a closed container such as a sealed laundry pump, or sealed sewage ejector pit and air must be displaced to allow the water waste to enter..
     

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