All of a sudden I'm having problems with my toilet. It flushes but the
bowl doesn't empty all the way and I have to use a plunger to get the
water level down to where it was when I first moved in two weeks ago.
Everything was fine until Sunday evening.
If I'm CERTAIN that nothing was flushed down there that isn't supposed
to be flushed down the toilet, why would all of a sudden it start to
act that way? Without getting too graphic, let's just say I had some
guests over that evening and I think one of them had an acute
gastro-enterological reaction to the pizza we ordered (it seemed to be
seasoned strangely, like tacos, so I'm not surprised).
A friend of mine told me to use muriatic acid. To empty the toilet,
dry it out and then let the acid sit in the bowl for about an hour
before flushing it down with a bucket of water. On the other hand, my
sister said I should get a snake. She said there could be roots
blocking a drain pipe, but if that's the case, why ALL OF A SUDDEN are
these roots a problem? Everything was fine until someone flushed the
toilet Sunday evening, and it hasn't emptied right since then.
1) If the problem began with a guest, why are you certain nothing
unfortunate was flushed?
2) I don't enjoy cleaning plungers, so I always try a few buckets of hot
water first, and it works 9 out of 10 times. VERY hot - as hot as you can
get from the tap. Worked fine in my first house. In my current house, it
causes a slight bit of leakage from the pipes in the basement because
they're apparently not sealed correctly. Investigate your specific situation
and see if the method feels right.
3) In my previous home, the toilet's innards were an amalgamation of parts
from different owners, including me. The toilet was never quite right. My
son just reported to me that my ex-wife finally got tired of it and called a
plumber. He tweaked the position of a small tube that shoots water DURING
the flush process. It took him 3 minutes, and the toilet works like a champ
now. I can't guide you any further, but it could be as simple as that.
1) Because he told me when he came back downstairs (after being up
there awhile) that something in the pizza didn't want to stay in his
body and that's why he was up there for so long, and he told me what
happened when he flushed the toilet.
2) I hate plungers too. I never heard of the hot water method--I'll
3) I'll call a plumber as a last resort. After all, whatever is wrong
will probably be covered under my home warranty.
Thanks for the advice!
Now *that* makes sense. But I'm too impatient, so I'm going to try the
hot water. If it is too much TP, then the hot water should take care
I guess I should also have mentioned that there is a kind of dull and
distant-sounding "thud" that I hear whenever I flush the toilet.
Sounds like it's coming from somewhere down the pipeline. I don't know
if that is significant, but I never heard it until this happened. . .
| Now *that* makes sense. But I'm too impatient, so I'm going to
| hot water. If it is too much TP, then the hot water should
| of that.
| I guess I should also have mentioned that there is a kind of
| distant-sounding "thud" that I hear whenever I flush the
| Sounds like it's coming from somewhere down the pipeline. I
| if that is significant, but I never heard it until this
happened. . .
That's significant; something's in the pipe. If this is a new
house, it could be anything from a contractor's tool to a piece
of wood jammed in an elbow/joint/etc.
Can you find it by listening along the pipes as someone flushes
it for you?
Got a cleanout trap you can check?
You lucky guy! Me too. Very similar. Some important differences. .
Last May or so, we had a similar situation in our hall ("guest")
bathroom - all of a sudden no flush, 50 plunges with plunger and it
would finally go glug glug and clear.
I tried the hot water trick. Wife and I are sure that made it
On the order of three times as much work to get it to clear.
I have contemplated a strong acid. Searched web and found no
reference to such. Reasoned that until I checked out reaction of
toilet bowl to hours or days of a strong acid bath I would put that on
hold. Now if some readers who have just removed or are about to
remove a toilet would experiment and then report the results here that
would be progress. The problem is how to do that safely. Perhaps
taking the lid from the tank into a part of the yard where no kids or
animals would stray, then pour a few milliter of acid (20 drops?) into
a tablespoon of water or so and pour that into the lid and let it sit
all day would give you an indication. If no damage (etching) then
double the concentration and try again. Consider pouring the left
over acid in a hole in the ground - not down a sink. I had a handy
gopher hole! Muriatic acid may make chlorine gas which will kill any
plants/critters that it touches (you too if you breath it!) but the
soil will neutralize it fast. So, if anyone trys this, you do need to
be very careful.
This summer we visited other people until Labor Day when we discovered
no flush of any sort, just a slow drain - a flush of clean water would
take about an hour to drain. Just this last week I decided to replace
it and see what I could see - toilet problem or plugged line.
In short it was roots, a Fig tree about 30 feet away had got a root
across the yard, under the house about 5 feet, up between the concrete
floor and the flange - the diameter of a hens leg at the flange. It
grew more or less thru the notch for one of the T-bolts then down into
the sewage line. That part of the root had exploded into root hairs
that made a dense, thick filter going down the line about 2 feet. I
used a router bit and a pair of pliers (and rubber gloves) to start
ripping into it. Funny thing, there was no stench and when first
uncovered, it appeared there was a layer of wax at the top. 40 to 50
% of the wax seal had melted away. Turned out the coating was not wax
at all, it was t.p.. After ripping out the upper 6 inches or so of
these roots, I managed to get a better-than-average-grip on the
remainder, and several tugs later, all the rest came in one piece.
And still no stench whatsover.
I'm in the process of installing the replacement (could have kept the
old one but it was an old, larger tank water waster so I'm installing
a new Kohler). I will post my questions in another thread.
One problem with hot water is that it may soften the wax seal that joins the
bottom of the toilet to the floor flange of the toilet drain and might then
leak? I suspect there may be feminine tampon/saniatary pad, a hairpin or a
chicken bone or something in the bend of the toilet? Then toilet paper and
other 'material' get hung up on the obstruction! If you do use a snake be
careful it may or may not go around the bend and don't break anything in
there reaming too hard!
What do you mean about just moving in two weeks ago?
Is this a septic system, or a city sewer? Does the
problem get worse if you flush frequently?
One possibility is that you've got a plugged or collapsed
main drain that can absorb/pass water if you limit yourself
to one flush or so per day, but that your little party
filled the drain-pipe, and backed up until the toilet won't
flush properly. Other possibilities are accumulating crud
in the water-jets, (do you have anything but water in
the tank?) or that the load that was co-incident with the
appearance of the problem was large enough to hang
up on something.
In any case, I'd stay away from chemicals, which probably
won't help and may damage things, and hot water,
which may melt the wax-seal, and stick to mechanical
clearing methods (snakes)
A plumber helper does wonders. Get the kind made with a large rubber
black bulb on the end. A metal snake could scratch the porcelain, but
might be fine if the toilet was removed temporarily. Not a good idea
to use muriatic acid on any plumbing, toilet, drain, tub nor sink.
I'm surprised that no one has suggested a toilet auger yet. It's a
snake that goes through about 4 feet of what looks like electrical
conduit with a bend on the end that is covered in rubber. That bend
allows you to get the snake into the toilet in the proper position and
the rubber protects the bowl from getting sctratched. There's a crank
on the other end that you use to turn it as you feed the snake in. You
may have a problem further down the line, but you really should try
the auger (they're cheap) before you do anything more drastic.
I'm told that you should NOT try using a regular plumbing snake in a
Wow. Went home last night and flushed the toilet and it worked
perfectly, without my doing anything! But then later on in the evening
it was back to doing the same thing, and since I was the only one home,
I know that nothing strange went down there between the time the toilet
flushed perfectly and the next flush about an hour later when it was
back to being slow again and needing the plunger. Just normal use.
Lots of things to consider but I guess no acid and no hot water. I'm
going to try the auger thing, because it sounds safe and it's exactly
what my sister told me to try. She called it a snake, but the OP
described it exactly the way my sister did, so she must be talking
about an auger.
BTW, the sound I was talking about is more of a low-frequency hum
coupled with the sound of a vibration--all told it lasts about 1 to 1.5
seconds--I heard it again this morning. It only happens when the
toilet is not emptying correctly.
If its a normal feces plug, then a two or three gallon of warm/hot
water poured from about three feet into the hole usually clears it for
me. And this does not significantly raise the temperature of the
toilet or seal.
I have done this for years and not had problems of any kind. Of
course a plunger is nearby, too.
From what you descibe, there is probably something else wrong. --Phil
Lesley See wrote:
Phil Munro Dept of Electrical & Computer Engin
mailto: email@example.com Youngstown State University
Many years ago, I worked in a warehouse unit. There were only about 10
employees in total, and we were all reasonably bright people who didn't
put dumb things down toilets.
One day we had symptoms like yours. Intermittent. Sometimes good,
sometimes bad. Drove us crazy. Drove the plumber crazy because he
couldn't detect any blockage. And none of us would have put anything
stupid down the toilet.
Eventually he had to pull the toilet off the flange. Turned out there
was a chunk of plastic from a deoderizer insert that reseated itself in
a different way each time it was flushed, captured inside the bottom of
the unit. Not quite small enough to flush thru, but not quite big
enough to consistently block it. And since it was small and light,
a snake would push it aside without the plumber "feeling it".
The plastic bit was something that sat inside the deoderizer unit
that you don't normally even know existed, until it fell out without
The point of my story is not to suggest that this is your problem.
Rather, sometimes things fall in without anyone noticing.
Or, maybe a birds nest fell down the vent stack.
Picking a mechanical method (like a snake) is probably the best thing
to try first, but, if that doesn't work out, rather than fooling
around with other things like hot water or muriatic acid (if the snake
didn't solve it, _these_ won't!), it's time to get serious. Pull the
toilet. Snake the vent stack. Etc.
If I had to guess, I'd think loose object in vent (imperfectly seals, the
noise you hear is the thing passing air through a gap that varies
each time you flush). But that's probably plumber time for you. As
is pulling the toilet.
Chris Lewis, Una confibula non set est
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