We have an old house with old plumbing. One toilet, in particular, backs
up about once a month, so I keep a plunger handy.
The other day, it not only backed up, but overflowed dumping about an
inch of water on the bathroom floor before I noticed it and shut off the
water. It has never done that before.
As I understand toilet hardware, the overflowing is caused by a double
failure: the shutoff valve in the tank failed to turn off the water and
the blockage in the line prevented the extra water from draining away.
I cleared the blockage and turned the water back on. It has been running
normally for about a week. I stay there until the water shuts off.
My question is should I replace the hardware in the tank? I believe it
was replaced just a couple of years ago. I am afraid that it is going to
fail again and I might not catch it before there is real water damage.
To my knowledge, the shut off mechanism has never failed before and it
has not been working for a week. Is it normal for it to fail just once
without it being defective and likely to fail again?
I'm not so sure you've actually "cleared" the blockage. A friend of
mine had 2 bathrooms that were back-to-back and the toilets shared the
drain line. One toilet or the other was constantly backing up. He's
plunge it out, "clearing" the blockage, only to have the other one do
the same thing. Eventually, he got tired of all this and called a
plumber. Plumber removed BOTH toilets, and fished out a small aerosol
can of deodorant. It appears that someone (likely the teen son)
dropped the can in the can while it was flushing. The can disappeared,
so he thought nothing more of it, until it was finally fished out of the
drain. It had been going back and forth in the connecting drain line,
effectively blocking one toilet or the other until it was finally removed.
Another friend had a toilet that was constantly backing up ... he too
removed it after several instances, and thoroughly checked the drain
path. Stuck inside the toilet waste path were several little plastic
toy soldiers. When confronted with the "evidence", the little boy said
something about "drowning" the bad guys.
"If you voted for Obama in 2008 to prove you're not a racist you'll
have to vote for someone else in 2012 to prove you're not stupid!"
On Thu, 13 Oct 2011 00:28:45 -0400, "<<<__ Bøb __>>>"
I'm pretty sure there are no toy soldiers in the line. Shortly after we
bought the house, I had a plumber out because of the blockages. It's
been awhile, but my recollection is he said the line was clear, but old
and not well constructed. I think he said the pipe is smaller that code
today and had some other problem like a bad joint or a bend that was too
Anyhow, he said we'd get blockages from time to time and there was
nothing he could do other than replace the line. He recommended making
sure not to use too much toilet paper and to get a snake from the
hardware store. I got the snake, but have never needed it. Flushing more
often has cut the backup down by 80% and a few pushes on the plunger
clears those that do occur.
Replacing the flushing mechanics in the tank is not expensive,
probably under $10, and you won't feel safe until you do it....
If you are handy, and can read the directions, you can do it
However, the toilet is supposed to be able to drain faster than
the input water from the tank can fill it. The bigger problem is the
blockage in the toilet drain. Perhaps some child has flushed a
toy soldier, or equivalent, and toilet paper is hanging up on it
and eventually cutting down on the drain flow (as one example)...
This type of obstruction is very difficult to fix, depending on where
it may be lodged (if that is the problem).....
In any case, go ahead and replace the flushing components. That
is the easiest thing to do, and , regardless of the drain rate, you
don't want to waste the water if the shut-off doesn't work
Andy in Eureka, Texas , PE
Jennifer, what a rare and unusual double failure. I don't know whose
fill valve you have now, but we have gone exclusively to Fluid Master
fill valves. The float ball type seem prone to more problems than the
FM. Korky flush valves if required. Installing a Fluid Master is well
within DIY talent level. If you will sleep better, put in a fresh one.
Any diagnosis as to why you have repeat blockages?
I second Dan G.'s suggestion about FluidMaster. I began using their
products about 30 years ago, replacing all toilet "innards," in a
number of homes with the FluidMaster products.
They have improved their products somewhat over the years. Their Web
site is a rich trove of helpful DYI advice.
watch a flush under way. does the tooilet flush with dedication? or
mostly just swirl water around with a anemic flush?
sediment can clog the interior toilet water paths espically the bowl
rim. and lead at the beginning to occasional poor flush, and as time
passes it gets worse.
incomplete flushes lead to eventual clogs:(
EASILY AND CHEAPLY SOLVED, with some acid cleaner.
its safe effective cheap and a miracle for those effected
Well, this is subjective, but I'd say it's closer to "with dedication".
I would not describe it as "anemic", but it does "hesitate" a bit. And
sometimes I notice that there is a little "material" left in the bowl
after the flush is complete -- like wet dust.
Is there someplace I can post a video? ;-)
According to the plumber, our water does have high mineral content and
the little screens on the taps get clogged every few years with
Is there a specific product you recommend?
Is this something that goes in the tank?
Is it a one-time treatment?
On Wed, 12 Oct 2011 21:58:36 -0700 (PDT), tim birr
I just visited the FM website. Very interesting video about the new Dual
Flush system. My FM replaced the ball float, but retained the flapper.
This new design replaces the flapper with a second pole-mounted float.
It also replaces the handle with a two-way handle allows for a
half-flush for liquid-only situations.
Does anyone have any experience with these mechanisms?
On Thu, 13 Oct 2011 00:08:46 -0400, Jennifer Murphy
You might try a different flushing mechanism in the tank.
Others here can recommend them.
But I've seen plenty of older style mechanisms - handle chain to
flapper - not fully close, because the flapper isn't closed.
Probably a kinking chain, or a loose hinge on the flapper letting the
flapper close unevenly.
Mine does that every once in a while.
Tapping the handle once or twice sets it right every time.
When that happens you can hear and see it after the flush.
Water inlet sound is full bore too long and you see the water
turbulence in the bowl.
I always hear it after I wash my hands.
If the flapper seats normally but the water keeps running, the
mechanism should be replaced - unless you have something like a
deodorizer hanging in the tank, which fouls the ball float and
prevents it from closing the valve.
What I don't quite understand is how you could walk away from a
"backed up" toilet.
I thought everybody made sure their waste actually flushed down.
That's assuming it was a load of waste that "backed up" up the toilet.
If not, there's something else wrong with the toilet drainage.
Don't ever remember hitting the flush handle and just walking away.
In fact, more than once in a fairly long life I've had the same 2
toilet malfunctions happen at once, but pulled off the top of the tank
to seat the flapper before water got on the floor.
Keep glass off the tank top too, because when that happens whatever is
stored on the tank top usually falls to the floor tiles.
On Thu, 13 Oct 2011 10:12:23 -0400, Jennifer Murphy
My main interest is making sure the toilet flushes properly and I'm
not going to get an inch of water on the floor like you did.
Takes all of about 4 seconds while I'm pulling up my pants anyway.
You'll be watching that poop now, I bet.
Secondarily, I don't want to leave a floater in there for the next
person to flush. One of my daughters sometimes did that.
No big deal. Just preferences/habit.
Hey, let's just forget about this - I'm eating breakfast.
If it takes more than a few seconds, I'd be replacing the toilet with
one that flushes better. Don't buy a cheap one, research online for
ones that are tested and rated for their ability to flush solids.
I'm not sure why nobody suggested this yet, but before you go about
changing everything, I'd spend $3 and 10 minutes and change the flapper.
Flappers deteriorate and occasionally don't close properly. Get a new
Fluidmaster flapper and try it out for a while. Note: if the tank was
full when you turned the water off, then the flapper was NOT the
problem, but I'd bet the tank was near empty.
Also I assume you bought a Closet Auger (Toilet Snake). If so, I would
use it (after you cleared the toilet with your plunger), just to make
sure that there is nothing down there partially blocking your waste
pipe. Another 10 minutes, no cost.
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