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Old 07-27-2008, 07:17 PM   #1
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Toilet - inconsistent flush response

Sometimes the flush is good, other times it is weak. Tank is always full, water empties and starts to refill. Toilet bowl may or may not empty. Overfilling/flooding is not a issue (yet.)

Any ideas on cause and cure?


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Old 07-27-2008, 08:35 PM   #2
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You might take a look at the flapper. See if it is going all the way up and staying up on each flush, until the tank empties and it falls back down. Sometimes replacing the flapper or fine-tuning the length of the chain between the flapper and the handle will fix it.


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Old 07-27-2008, 10:01 PM   #3
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When I'm testing the flushing ability I am holding the flapper up to rule out a bad flapper.
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Old 07-27-2008, 10:45 PM   #4
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The main drain line from your house may be partially clogged (mostly with solids from your kitchen sink).

That would result in water backing up behind the clogged area when you have high water flow into your drain piping (like when you drain a bathtub or the clothes washer spins or your dish washer does it's thing).

Try this first thing in the morning after the drain piping has had all night to drain (if you use your toilet at night, just don't flush it to ensure your drain piping is fully drained in the morning) :

a) Fill two 5 gallon pails with water and pour one down your toilet as fast as you can without getting water all over your bathroom floor.

If the drain piping is partially clogged, the toilet should take the water and flush normally (or start taking it and then stop if the water backs up all the way to the toilet).

If the toilet flushes properly with the first 5 gallons, your drain piping should now be full of water. Pour the second 5 gallon pail in now, and see if the toilet stops taking the water or flushes normally. If it flushes normally, flush your toilet and see if it flushes a third time properly. (be ready to take the lid off the tank and push the flapper down if it looks like it's going to overflow the bowl).

If the water backs up in the toilet at any time during those three successive flushes, then the problem is most likely that the main drain line from your house is partially clogged. What's happening is that if you flush your toilet after your washer spins or you drain a tub full of water, you get an anaemic flush because the drain piping is already full of water. But, if the drain piping is empty, then the toilet flushes normally because all the water in the bowl and tank can be accomodated in the empty 3 inch drain piping.
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Old 07-28-2008, 04:05 PM   #5
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I dumped 2 pails of water, it flushed. Tank water didn't move.
Lift flapper - nothing, a little movement as tank drains but, no flush
Lift #2 - it flushes fine
Lift #3 - no action in bowl - just tank emptying
Lift #4 - no action in bowl - just tank emptying

If a line was clogged - wouldn't I see water backing up in the tub, shower, sinks between the main line and this toilet?
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Old 07-28-2008, 08:45 PM   #6
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How old is the toilet? Approximately.

When you try to flush it 3 or 4 times and the bowl doesn't flush does it keep filling up like it will overflow or does it just maintain about the same level but doesn't empty?

Have you tried plunging the bowl while it is full?

ave you tried a closet auger?

Check out my goofy video for my new toilet repair book.
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Old 07-30-2008, 11:18 AM   #7
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The Brand: Briggs one-piece
Year 1975-1978 (previous owner remodel)

It has never reached a overflow or, come close to it. It just doesn't do a complete flush 100% of the time.

Yesterday morning it was flushed and the water in the bowl never emptied - only swirled around as the tank emptied. Then, after the tank filled I flushed it again and it worked properly.

I have not tried plunging or a auger - I'll try the plunging today.
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Old 08-11-2009, 05:27 PM   #8
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Not enough water

Sounds like you aren't getting enough water into the bowl fast enough to activate the siphon and cause a flush. Get a Popsicle stick or some such thing and a pocket mirror and clean out those little holes under the rim of the bowl and the siphon jet at the bottom front of the bowl. You can also try adjusting your float to fill your tank more. I use a bit of weed wacker line for the smaller holes in the rim. The main thing is enough water isn't getting into your bowl fast enough, the tank should drain in 3 seconds flat if not faster and you need to find out what the hold up is.

Most people get this problem from calcium deposits or 2000 flushes blue (makes weird latex like deposits after a few years). Some people try to use a water saving tip and sink a large wine bottle in the tank which is just enough difference in some toilets to make the flush not work right anymore (not enough water, no mater how fast won't make the siphon work).

I forgot to mention a solution to deposits from 2000 flushes blue. My case was really bad, the guy must have had the tank half full with tablets that were now fused together in this crazy black crusty mountain. I had to shut off the water to the tank and flush, then take the tank off and take it outside to chisel out the tablet mountain. I took out the flapper and used CLR liberally in the tank. I then poured a generous amount of CLR into the toilet where the tank attaches and let it sit for an hour or so. I knew it had done the job when small pebbles of 2000 flushes started falling out of the siphon jet. I put the tank back on and was rewarded with a perfect flush! I went from around 4.5 seconds for from flapper up to flapper down to around 2.5 seconds.


Last edited by CapinWinky; 08-11-2009 at 06:42 PM. Reason: Add solution to 2000 flushes
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