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mcvane 08-14-2008 03:18 PM

slow flushing toilet annoyances
Hi there.

We moved into a house that had 2 washrooms. One had one of the newer 6 litre toilets that appears to quickly flush and 'clear' your toilet of whatever goes into it. It generally does a good job.

The other one is probably more than 6 litres in capacity and is the one that is the annoying one. It's one of those larger, luxurious looking models (2 piece), but the flushing is ever so slow.
Not to sound bad or anything but if anyone has an average #2, the toilet will clog without question - there is no room for the water to flow to! My solution has been to wait, flush, then wait, flush, then wait...and then I add a pail of hot water...and it might eventually go through.

The problem is, this is our main powder room, and this is embarrasing to have this kind of a toilet for use by guests.

Is this just the way the toilet flows and there is nothing I can do about it? I was thinking of getting newer toilet flushing parts, but will that make a difference? Ultimately, is it better to just get a super duper toilet that will flush whatever you throw at it?

I am not in the mood for games and I don't care if it's not 'efficient'. I just want it to flush in one flush!!

Thanks for your help in advance...

Nestor_Kelebay 08-15-2008 01:15 AM

Can you inspect the drain pipe from that second toilet to the stack from the basement (or floor below).

It might be just a poor flushing toilet, but it could also be that whomever owned the house before you decided to do his own renovations, and moved the toilet so that the new drain pipe had to go UNDER a floor joist and then back up again to enter the same point on the vent stack the old drain pipe discharged into. In that case, you have a big "p-trap" under your toilet that would definitely explain the problem.

Also, is this annoying toilet in the basement?

I think the first thing to do is to check to see if the problem is that the drain piping the toilet discharges into is filling up with water. After coming home from work (so that the drain piping has had pleny of time to drain away past any partial clogging) fill two 5 gallon pails of water. Pour the first 5 gallon of pail down that toilet bowl as fast as you can without spilling water all over the floor. Does the toilet flush normally when you do that? Is it still a slow flush?

Now, as soon as the bowl has stopped "flushing" (or whatever it does), pour the second 5 gallon pail in again as fast as you can without spilling water on the floor. Was there ANY difference between the two "flushes". If both flushes were equally slow and weak, then I'd say you may have something funny going on with the drain piping the toilet discharges into.

It occured to me that there may be a blockage in the toilet bowl, but if that were the case, then toilet paper would exacerbate the situation and the toilet would soon stop flushing altogether.

It also occurs to me that some "water saver" toilets made in the past decade have been lemons. You may want to contact the manufacturer's local sales rep and get him to look at the toilet and see if this was a lemon and whether or not the flushing of this toilet is typical of this model.

PS: You don't need to know the rest, but it really helps to diagnose toilet problems.

A toilet is nothing more than a glorified siphon. With a siphon you get the flow started by sucking on a tube until you fill it with water (or any liquid). Once the tube is full of water, the laws of physics take over and cause the liquid to flow through the tube to a lower elevation. As long as the end of that tube is below the elevation of the liquid, that liquid will continue flowing through the tube to create a siphon. A toilet bowl also has a "siphon channel", but instead of sucking on the bottom of it, the toilet tank simply discharges enough water into the bowl fast enough so that it overflows into the bending siphon channel fast enough that it completely fills that siphon channel with water. Once that siphon channel is completely full of water, exactly the same laws of physics take over to siphon the rest of the water out of the toilet bowl. The gurgling noise you hear at the end of a successful flush is caused by exactly the same physics as the gurgling noise your straw makes after successfully sucking up a milk shake.

If pouring the 5 gallon pails into the bowl causes an improvement in the flushing, the problem is that enough water isn't coming into the bowl fast enough to spill over into the siphon channel fast enough to fill that siphon channel completely with water. If the siphon channel isn't full of water, then you get an anaemic suction, and hence a slow and weak flush. So, it might also be a problem with not enough water getting from the tank into the bowl fast enough. See what the 5 gallon pail test shows.

Piedmont 08-15-2008 10:33 AM

I have not had luck with poor flushing toilets. In my house the toilet in the basement doesn't even flush half the time water just "spins" in it even if it's just pee. After 2-3 times you'll get a decent flush. I changed it out for a new toilet that was in the middle price range and it too had the same damn problem! I got the pro's in, and they concluded the bathroom in the basement was an afterthought, the 90 the tiolet sits on is the sharpest they'd ever seen and likely interferring with siphoning of the toilet and only a pressure-assisted toilet will work there.

First, do as suggested to see if you can pour that water in and not have it back up. I think your best option is a pressure assisted toilet, don't bother looking at gravity fed toilets they all advertise big throats and you can flush softballs down them but they also depend that you don't currently have an existing problem. You've seen pressure-assisted toilets in fast food resturaunts, hotels, or public restrooms when they flush they flush with the intensity and sound like a jet! They are loud, they don't last 30+ years like a gravity assist, and not cheap in the $300-$400 range but I think what the problem is (if it's not a P-Trap underneath) you have problems with your vent stack, or it goes 90 too fast and the plumber will tell you that you need a power assist toilet anyway it will likely be cheaper to just get it flat out. Here's a warning, I've NOT found them at Lowes or Home Depot (but all their toilets say "Power" that doesn't mean they're power/pressure assisted), I've found them only at plumbing supply stores and when talking to them tell them you DO NOT want a gravity assisted toilet, you want a power or pressure assist they'll know what you're talking about and as mentioned usually $300 - $400. Another tip, although "elongated" toilets are more comfortable round ones clean themselves better and have a more powerful flush and, I'm all about not cleaning the toilet anymore than I have to and getting as much power out of each flush... I like round toilets.

mcvane 08-18-2008 08:49 AM

flushing tests...
Hi and thank you for your valuable input.

Basically, I haven't run the 5 gallon test, but I do know that once the toilet is cleared and flushes (without clogging), it will always flush, but flush slow. It will successfully flush, as long as there are no solid objects in the toilet! So, liquids are fine to flush, but if for example, you happen to use the toilet and need to use a lot of toilet paper (or if you happen to have solids there), there is never enough suction to suck the toilet clean.

Another minor problem this toilet has is that in the toilet flushing mechanism...there needs to be an adjustment made, because an ever-so small amount of water continues to come into the mechanism in this system (I believe it's called ball/cock) - you hear it dripping in the middle tube/pipe, which prevents the back part of the toilet from overflowing. Anyways, I have made adjustments and bent the rod where the ball is on - this appears to stop the extra water from flowing, but that MAY have decreased the suction power of the toilet? I'm not entirely sure.

The problem toilet is in the family room of a sidesplit house. So, basically, there is a 1/2 floor beneath it, and the piping is right underneath going into the foundation - so, I think it's not a problem of it being too far away vertically from going down. There MAY be a blockage, but water flows clearly, but slowly. I think it's the design of the toilet. It is meant to flush in a slow (annoying way)! I just loved the older toilets which could hold a lot more 'stuff'. Now, the government (in Canada anways), seems to only allow the manufacture of the toilets that hold not much stuff, although the size of people are growing!

Anyways, sorry for the rant...but I have a feeling that the $300/$400 super suction toilet is my way to go. I don't want to deal with guests coming over and me having to be a full time janitor when I'm trying to entertain! Do you know if that's the entire cost of the toilet or just the unit to put inside the back of the toilet? I would like to keep the toilet if I can and put that in as a component inside to force the water down!

Let me know and I thank you for your help.

bob22 08-18-2008 02:08 PM

Slow draining line is either obstruction in the line or inadequate venting. Have you had the main drain line snaked by a pro? Is this toilet properly vented and if so, is the vent not obstructed? If blocked, it is like holding water in a straw with your finger covering the top end. Don't give up yet.

mcvane 08-20-2008 06:53 AM

Hi There.

Thanks for your replies. It seems this toilet is very intermittent in successful flushes. I asked my wife to start using this one more often as a testing vehicle. She says that it would not flush properly for #1's. I came home and for #2, it flushed fine.

So it appears that every other flush, it MAY work - which defeats the purpose of having these water efficient toilets. I've flushed this toilet probably 5x more than I've used it.

I haven't had a pro do anything, but maybe if I plunge when everything is well, it might push things through? I will check to see how the piping is setup and give you more feedback later.


Charles 08-20-2008 09:06 AM

I was watching that show "How Stuff is Made(or works can't remember the name)" not too long ago and they showed how those jet siphon toilets are made.

Those things have some serious flushing power. They loaded it up with stuff that would cripple a regular toilet, and in all honesty would have played havoc with the plumbing, and it just pushed it down without a problem.

majakdragon 08-20-2008 12:07 PM

First thing I would do is replace that ball-cock fill valve with a Fluidmaster 400A fill-valve. Hopefully, the water level in the tank is at the proper level. 1/2" below the top of the overflow tube. The flapper closing early could also be the problem. Look while flushing and see if the flapper falls before most of the water in the tank is released into the bowl. Something I have not seen mentioned here is the holes that the water flows through from the tank to the bowl. These sometimes get clogged with calcium deposits and restrict flow. This can be checked with a mirror held under the bowl rim while flushing. Make sure there is full flow from each hole. A bent metal coat hanger can be used to clear clogged holes. If you are not getting air bubbles when flushing, it is doubtful you have a vent problem. I disagree with the statement that toilets work on suction. The vent would prevent this. The water flowing from the tank to the bowl, "pushes" the items in the bowl through the toilet trap and into the drain line. (personal feeling). As far as "power assisted" toilets, my thoughts are "if you are required to flush 16 golf balls down a toilet, you probably need a Doctor, not a Plumber".

YerDugliness 08-20-2008 12:27 PM

I replaced the toilet in a vacation/project/retirement home about a year ago. I find that it has 2 flushes--if I push down on the handle and release immediately, it flushes enough to clear the bowl of liquids but not solid matter. However, if I push down on the handle and hold the handle down until the tank drains, it flushes the proverbial 16 golf balls.

I started to work on it, realizing the flapper valve was closing too quickly, and then decided I'd leave it like that for now. I feel it offers a savings in water usage and I've adjusted to the method needed for successful operation. The ball-cock assembly is adjusted correctly, 1/2" of dry pipe on the overflow tube........

I do realize, though, that it would be a problem if I were to entertain much company....:huh:

Dugly :cool:

mcvane 11-13-2008 12:43 PM

resuming my toilet adventures...
2 Attachment(s)
Thanks to all for answering my posts in the past. I left the toilet to see how we can manage without doing anything. It was generally flushing well, but we had a few occasions where it clogged - again. Unfortunately, putting in more toilet paper than just 6-7 sheets will cause this thing to clog, even if you're done just a number 1! When you do a number 2, it is pretty much backed up heavily.

I've attached pics of our 'good - 6 litres per flush toilet' and 'bad' slow flowing toilet.

What I have found is, if it does get clogged, I fill up a bucket with warm/hot water (not too hot) from the tap, and most times, I can pour that water to soften the waste and later flush - sometimes 2 buckets are required. If it's not as a serious clog, 1 full bucket will actually clean the toilet through without me flushing.

However, being this is the guest washroom, we had a situation or two where guests had to plunge our toilet - rather embarrassing for us and them!

Some of you refer to venting - when you refer to inadequate venting, do you mean the vent in the washroom itself? Both our washrooms do not have a fan/vent to release moisture to the outside - the house was built in the 60s. If you refer to venting in the toilet, where would this be?

Anyways, I've had it with this toilet. I called American Standard and our good toilet is called a Cadet 2. This good toilet is a 6 litre per flush model and I don't know how, but it has handled everything I've thrown at it - I am prone to clogging toilets! I learned that the 3" flush valve releases water much quicker, to make a more efficient, powerful flush.

The bad toilet is a different model which I don't know what it is - there was no engraving inside.

There is a Cadet 3 model out now, and I think I'm going to go out and buy this and install it. Do people have any recommendations about this toilet or a good one that thay have had luck with?

Thanks again for your input.

majakdragon 11-13-2008 01:14 PM

The vent referred to in previous posts is a pipe behind the toilet that is directly connected to the main drain and the main vent line, which extends up and out of your roof. All fixtures (sinks, toilets and tubs) are connected to the main vent to allow air into the drainage system to facilitate proper flow and drainage. You may also have something stuck in the trap of the toilet. Kid's toys and tooth brushes are the one's I find most. They lodge in the trap and allow water to flow at a decreased rate, but also collect toilet paper which ends up reducing the flow so badly, it will not flush correctly. After a period of time, the paper degrades enough to flush but new additions of paper start the process all over again. If you have a Closet Auger, try using it in the bowl. I have had great luck with the American Standard Cadet line of toilets.

bradnailer 11-13-2008 01:17 PM

While you have the toilet out, I'd suggest you snake the drain line or hire a pro to run a rotorooter on it. May as well whilst the line is open. Make sure you get a new wax seal for the new toilet.

barry1980 11-13-2008 03:00 PM

It sounds to me your vent is insufficiant or non existant, most houses are installed with one on the highest point of the pipe line, sometimes this can cause a problem and can be solved by installing another one on the problem toilet. The best advice is to call a pro and get it over and done with, sometimes the pro is the only answer.

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