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Old 01-07-2015, 02:38 PM   #1
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What Would a Plumber Do to Troubleshoot This Problem?


In another thread I asked for possible causes of a low level of water (disappears over time) in a toilet bowl. Answers were generally a) "trouble" with the vent system and b) a broken (cracked) toilet.

With regard to the second potential, this toilet has been acting this way for several months. There is no evidence of any water leaks where it is, or on either of the two floors below.

So if I call a Plumber to diagnose this problem, does anyone have an idea of what he (or she) would do?

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Old 01-07-2015, 03:02 PM   #2
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What Would a Plumber Do to Troubleshoot This Problem?


The P-trap of the toilet is built into the base. A leak below that would not change the water level in the toilet.

When the level drops, how long of a period are we talking?

If it was a vent problem....i.e., a negative pressure on the line sucking the water, it would not be a gradual level change. One moment it would be good and then a few min later you notice a sudden drop.

If it's an actual leak in the toilet, it would be a slow even drop in level. But if you look at the way the bowl is made, I would be inclined to think you would see the water somewhere. If this is the case, lifting the toilet is the easiest option...and not at all hard to do. I personally remove the back tank first. Makes it a lot easier.

Another option...especially if there are teenage and adult ladies in the house.....

You might have some 'trash' that has not gone all the way through the p-trap. If it's stuck on the exit lip where part of it is sticking in the p-trap and the other end down the drain side, then it could be whicking water out of the bowl.

A cheap thing to try....go to HD and get one of those Zip snakes (or what ever they call it). $3? About 3' long. Push it in and then pull out. It snags anything stuck in there.


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Old 01-07-2015, 05:39 PM   #3
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What Would a Plumber Do to Troubleshoot This Problem?


Auger the toilet would be the first thing to do.

I think ddawg may be correct.
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Old 01-07-2015, 08:42 PM   #4
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What Would a Plumber Do to Troubleshoot This Problem?


Your problem could be as simple as a bad toilet or a problem within your A/C setup in the home. we deal with dry traps all the time you'd be surprised what will cause a trap to dry up prematurely.
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Old 01-07-2015, 09:34 PM   #5
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What Would a Plumber Do to Troubleshoot This Problem?


Iam going to say you have a problem with the internal trap on the commode itself....leaking but you would not see its going down the drain...
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Old 01-07-2015, 10:26 PM   #6
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What Would a Plumber Do to Troubleshoot This Problem?


I suspect the dog is drinking from the toilet....
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Old 01-07-2015, 10:46 PM   #7
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What Would a Plumber Do to Troubleshoot This Problem?


Quote:
Originally Posted by ddawg16 View Post
The P-trap of the toilet is built into the base. A leak below that would not change the water level in the toilet.

When the level drops, how long of a period are we talking?
This is in a seldom used guest bathroom so I don't have the most accurate of time measurements, but I'm thinking based on observation perhaps as long as a week....I'm going to give the snake thingy a go and see what happens. It is possible to date the beginning of this problem to a guest we had over the summer....
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Old 01-08-2015, 11:46 AM   #8
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What Would a Plumber Do to Troubleshoot This Problem?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Curmudgeon10 View Post
I'm going to give the snake thingy a go and see what happens.
Be sure to use a toilet auger that's designed to snake the toilet. One that has a bent tube that the snake spins in and the tubing is covered with plastic/rubber where it can contact the toilet.


Image from plumbingsupply.com

If you use a regular snake, it will leave visible black scratch marks in your toilet that are really hard to get rid of.

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Old 01-08-2015, 12:12 PM   #9
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What Would a Plumber Do to Troubleshoot This Problem?


"This is in a seldom used guest bathroom". Your problem could be as simple as evaporation from the toilet bowl. Seriously. I studied this in plumbing classes. One simple test: Flush the toilet with nothing in it. Allow the toilet to complete the flush cycle, allow the tank to fill up and everything to settle down. Lay a straight edge over the bowl of the toilet or the seat of the toilet and use a rule or tape measure to measure from the bottom of the straight edge to the water level. Write this down. DO NOT use the toilet during this test. Leave the lid up and come back in say, six hours, and do the same measuring the same way. Note IF there is any difference in the water level. Now do the flush cycle all over again, take the measurement again the same way you did the first time. Now close the lid, wait the same amount of time and take the measurement again. I'm betting you will see that the water level is higher with the lid closed. Water will evaporate with the lid closed, as this is not airtight, but will evaporate at a slower rate. That's why you want to check it with the lid open for one test and closed for the other test. Another trick: Get some dry dog food, cheap, chunky dog food. Take one level "red solo cup" of dog food and dump it into the toilet just as the water level is spinning and starts to go down. Dump it straight in, all at once. This chunky, dry dog food will sort of "scrape" the inside of the plumbing as it flushes down. Do this for several flushes, it only helps the system. IF you are on a septic system there is an added benefit, depending on the brand of dog food--most dog foods still contain active enzymes from grains used to make the dog food. These will not hurt the dog, they help the dog digest their food and will help a septic system do it's digesting. Multiple flushes with the dog food will help clean out the waste drain line going from the house also. This method was demonstrated to us in class using clear PVC piping. Seeing was believing. Do the evaporation test and let us know.
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Old 01-08-2015, 01:17 PM   #10
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What Would a Plumber Do to Troubleshoot This Problem?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Homerepairguy View Post
Be sure to use a toilet auger that's designed to snake the toilet. One that has a bent tube that the snake spins in and the tubing is covered with plastic/rubber where it can contact the toilet.


Image from plumbingsupply.com

If you use a regular snake, it will leave visible black scratch marks in your toilet that are really hard to get rid of.

HRG
Yep, just got that lecture at Lowe's. Their "light duty" tool is around $36 I think. That guy was more focused on the possibility that the vent system was clogged, citing "tree frogs in the vent" as a possibility. He says someone needs to get on the roof and dangle a length of chain down the vent pipe to clear out any obstructions. In my neck of the woods, because I have some pretty steep pitched rooves, that sounds like $200 easy. I think I'll try the suggested evaporation test first; then move on to the $36.00 tool, see what happens.
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Old 01-08-2015, 01:19 PM   #11
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What Would a Plumber Do to Troubleshoot This Problem?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Thurman View Post
"This is in a seldom used guest bathroom". Your problem could be as simple as evaporation from the toilet bowl. Seriously. I studied this in plumbing classes. .
I will try this evap test and let you know the results. Off the bat there does appear to be some merit, as in the winter, the humidity is very low in the house and I run a humidifier, but it only really humidifies the air in the basement and first floor, not on the second floor where all the guest stuff is.
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Old 01-08-2015, 06:19 PM   #12
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What Would a Plumber Do to Troubleshoot This Problem?


Could just try using the toilet 2 times a week.
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Old 01-08-2015, 07:13 PM   #13
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What Would a Plumber Do to Troubleshoot This Problem?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghostmaker View Post
Could just try using the toilet 2 times a week.
Without guests, we don't go to that floor of the house twice a year.

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