Plugged, slow toilet


Here in our condo we own the toilet because it is not "original". We do not own the plumbing behind the wall or under the floor. Condo maintenance's main job is to insure that all problems are the owner's problem only, never theirs.
This is an ongoing problem for weeks now. The toilet will seem fine then be plugged. Usually what happens is I use it in the morning before work, errrrrr use it kina "heavily". One or two flushes later it seems fine. Off I go to work, wife goes to use it & WHAM it's plugged & requires vigorous plunging.
Once when it was "slow" I rented a closet auger & reamed it for a while, feeling no obstructions & it had no effect on the problem. Our Condo maintenance guy claims it is the toilet. We called in a company that quoted 24/7 service at reasonable prices. The guy did not seem to be a plumber to me, just a hard worker. For surprisingly cheap $130.00 he spent about 30 minutes using a closet auger & a plunger & got it flushing normally again. I am unsure if the reaming did anything as he also plunged like a maniac.
The toilet became plugged a few days later.
All the reaming I do does nothing. Only plunging seems to help. When it is working, it flushes well, swirls & everything goes down in a single flush. After "heavy use" a plug does not show for a couple flushes.
Question: In a professional plumber's opinion, is this some sort of toilet issue or an obstruction downstream?
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i am leaning toward a problem with drain. ( not enough pitch) Does everything else in that room work fine? Do you ever hear a gurguling sound from tub or sink when you flush toilet? Has this been a problem from day 1? ( i assume new toilet was to try and solve this) have you actually pulled toilet off floor and looked in the drain and bottom of toilet? Once i had a toothbrush stuck in the drain right under toilet, it would collect toilet paper over time and cause a clog. plunger and auger missed it.

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Yes, everything else works fine. Toilet was replaced since the place was built, but does not appear to be a "low flow" toilet & is not at all new.

Sometimes the toilet burps air. No, gurgling sounds from anything.

No, just started about 2 months ago. We bought this place in 1998.

Not yet. Although I have never done this before, I can try... I can just see this turning into a plumbing disaster & having to call in the pro's for a rescue.
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From your description I would lean toward the waste line being the problem. Particularly since you are claiming the closet auger has no effect. If there is a stoppage within the reach of an auger, that auger would be a much more effective tool. Because "vigorous" plunging seems to be the most effective against the problem, and the fact that the auger doesn't help, I'm guessing that the problem is dowstream and when the line is full of water & waste the plunging is having a hydraulic effect. One way to know for sure is the next time it stops up run a closet auger through it a couple of times and try to flush it. If it's still not flushing pull the toilet immediately and check the line by running a hose full blast or pouring buckets of water down the line. If the waste line will take a couple of 5 gallon buckets when it's in stopped up mode without the toilet then it's the toilet that's the problem.
Bob Wheatley
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Bruin:
I assume you don't want call the guy back that you paid $130? Unless there's some circumstance that he shouldn't or that you don't want him back, maybe he could pull the toilet and inspect the bottom side for an obstruction? While he's at it, have him test the (closet arm) pipe for an object or for a partial stoppage by running some water or buckets of water down it. Maybe there's hard water deposits built up inside the toilet that is preventing paper and waste from flowing through.
Also, not to insult your traditional knowledge of plunging a toilet when there's a stoppage, but never plunge a toilet stoppage unless you KNOW for sure it's only paper and or waste causing the problem. Otherwise there's the very like possibility that plunging will force the object further into the trap of the toilet or even into the closet section of the system. If this happens, you've essentially doubled or even tripled the amount of work that needs to be done. I would love to share the secret with you, but it's a little known, guarded thing among SOME professional drain cleaners, so you'll need to call a professional.
As far as your current issuse, call the guy back, have him pull the toilet, inspect it. If the toilet checks out fine somehow, all at one time, dump at least 3 gals. of water down the drain to try to get it to back up. If the it backs up, it'll need to be either augered or cabled (snaked) to hopefully retrieve the object, if any. If it still isn't resolved, you might be looking at a larger problem (though I doubt it) and may need to have a video inspection performed to reveal what it is and where it is.
Keep us posted.
-a
Here in our condo we own the toilet because it is not "original". We do not own the plumbing behind the wall or under the floor. Condo maintenance's main job is to insure that all problems are the owner's problem only, never theirs.
This is an ongoing problem for weeks now. The toilet will seem fine then be plugged. Usually what happens is I use it in the morning before work, errrrrr use it kina "heavily". One or two flushes later it seems fine. Off I go to work, wife goes to use it & WHAM it's plugged & requires vigorous plunging.
Once when it was "slow" I rented a closet auger & reamed it for a while, feeling no obstructions & it had no effect on the problem. Our Condo maintenance guy claims it is the toilet. We called in a company that quoted 24/7 service at reasonable prices. The guy did not seem to be a plumber to me, just a hard worker. For surprisingly cheap $130.00 he spent about 30 minutes using a closet auger & a plunger & got it flushing normally again. I am unsure if the reaming did anything as he also plunged like a maniac.
The toilet became plugged a few days later.
All the reaming I do does nothing. Only plunging seems to help. When it is working, it flushes well, swirls & everything goes down in a single flush. After "heavy use" a plug does not show for a couple flushes.
Question: In a professional plumber's opinion, is this some sort of toilet issue or an obstruction downstream?
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Everyone: thanks for the replies!
I waited too long to call back that guy back & I was not impressed with him anyhow. From what everyone (Bob, Ned & a) say, the throne has to come off to properly diagnose the problem.
I am gonna have to pull this baby myself. I plan on replacing the stem & washer for the little valve behind the toilet before I touch the toilet. I had issues with the ones for the kitchen sink when I installed a new faucet, icemaker, & dishwasher. Replacing the guts was a quick easy solution. They been there for 35 years. Also going to get two wax rings ( a spare in case I screw up) & then I think I am ready.
Currently it is in very very slow mode (as in plugged) & we are using the other bathroom's mighty Ferguson. We shall see what we shall see.
Any tips on removing & replacing a toilet ? =)
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get a no-burst braided supply line.

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Yeah ! One of those two foot long ones I often see. [Just joking]

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It's time to get on the association for your condo and have them fix the problem. You need to contact the board members, or the president of the board, and get on his case. You go to association meetings, right? Your neighbors may be having the same problem. If you give the board a copy of your repair bill, it should be proof enough to them that the problem is with their plumbing. If you end up calling a plumber out again, make sure he writes on the bill that nothing was found to be plugging the toilet. Show that to them as well.
Sometimes you have to make a royal pain in the ass of yourself to get anything done with a homeowner association. Try the nice way first, then pitch a mighty fit, embarrass the board, make them look like fools, and eventually they'll come around. If even that doesn't work, it may be time to contact a lawyer.
Pagan
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