My Toilet Drains Slowly

Toilets not flushing properly can have a few different causes.

Here are a few diagnostic tips to help you correctly address the problem of having a poor flushing toilet. Go to the toilet you are having trouble with. Run water from a fixture higher than the toilet. If you have a sink in the area near the affected toilet, turn on the faucet and watch the water in the toilet bowl. If you notice turbulence or bubbling in the toilet bowl, there is your first indication, your toilet is not working well due to a blockage in the sewer line, beneath the toilet.

When the main sewer line to the building is becoming clogged or slow to drain, it will reveal itself in the way the toilet flushes. If you notice any of these signs: Bubbling, Gurgling, Slow drainage, the toilet will flush well after not attempting to flush it for a while then return to flushing poorly, don’t wait for the toilet to begin flushing normally. Slow running sewer lines normally get worse with use. meaning, with each use, the sewer line is becoming more impacted. Waiting could mean while you are using water in a different part of the house, your sewer is backing up in the basement or wherever the lowest point of drainage in your house is.

If you don’t notice any of the above mentioned signs, your situation is not as bad as it may seem. You may be able to resolve a slow flushing toilet yourself.

Remove the tank lid and look for a stain created by normal water level on the side wall of the inside of the toilet tank. If the water level is lower than the staining, the flapper on the flush valve may not be creating a perfect seal. Energy and resource conservation studies have revealed a need for at least 1.6 gallons per flush for a toilet to effectively flush waste out of a toilet and provide enough flow in the sewer to disperse solids. This has become the standard for water consumption for water closets since September 14, 1998. Beware the plumber who advises use of bricks or filled jugs in the toilet tank. Water conservation is already at its lowest point. Using less water to flush the toilet only creates the potential for main sewer line backups. This also brings to mind, the fill valve may have been adjusted to not permit the tank to fill to the proper level.

If water is at the water line in the toilet tank, there may be a restriction in the main jet at the bottom of the toilet bowl. Or, calcium and mineral buildup in the jets at the rim of the bowl may be inhibiting the delivery of water to the bowl once the main jet has begun pushing water through the trap. The main jet begins the vortex action which creates a syphoning effect. The jets at the rim allow for the bowl to wash out as well as to supply the bowl with water until the syphoning has finished flushing waste from the toilet to the sewer.

Cleaning the jets can be accomplished by using a calcium and lime removing solution like CLR or a home made solution of baking soda and vinegar. Here is what you can do…

  • Prepare separate containers, one containing an ounce of baking soda. The other, a cup of vinegar. (Use as many cups of Vinegar and ounces of baking soda to follow through with bullet point 3 below).
  • Then empty the water from the toilet bowl.
  • Put a large sponge into a plastic bag that will not pleat itself too much by stuffing the bag and sponge into the trap mouth of the toilet. Take action to ensure the sponge and bag will not move through the trap of the toilet into the sewer. You are only using the bag and sponge as a plug that will need to be removed in a few hours.
  • Fill the bowl to the rim (contains jets) with the solution of vinegar and baking soda. (You will want to allow the jets to soak for a few hours. Over night if possible.)
  • Next, use a funnel to poor vinegar (only) into the overflow tube from inside the toilet tank. The vinegar will sit in the rim and soften calcium or mineral buildup at the rim jets from inside the rim.
  • When you have allowed it to sit for at least a few hours, pull the plug and allow the toilet to drain. Use a blunt object and an inspection mirror to dislodge the softened mineral buildup at the rim jets and the main jet.
  • Fill the tank with water and flush the toilet a few times.

(If you use CLR, be sure to place plastic wrap over the bowl and the overflow tube. Tape the plastic wrap to ensure fumes do not escape. Also, CLR and Vinegar is very bad for septic system households. If this is the case. You may decide to take your chances with chemicals. However, you may also try to clear the jets beneath the toilet rim with a piece of mechanical wire. You will need a small mirror in order to see where the jets are.)

Looking to try a fast remedy for clearing bowl cleaning residue from your toilet jets?

Watch the following video. The method is said to speed up a slow flushing toilet.

Another reason for a slow flushing toilet is you may have an obstruction in the trap of the toilet or in the bend under the toilet. A toilet auger may need to be purchased but first, try plunging. If that does not work, use a wet/dry vacuum. Don’t forget to remove the filter. Finally, if nothing else works for you, try an auger. Be careful with the auger. If you place too much pressure on the trap, it could create a leak in your toilet. If you are not comfortable, call a sewer and drain cleaner in your area.

One last reason your toilet drains slowly is there is an obstruction in the vent. The sewer vent allows for air to enter the sewer system. If air can not get into the drain lines, water will not flow and your toilet will not flush. (See this article for more information)

Diagnosing and fixing the drainage problem for a sink, toilet, shower or tube may be a long and difficult process. Be safe. If fixing the issue is something that is risky or not being understood, contact a drain service company. The range of pricing for a company who cares to do the job correctly is within $145.00 – $225.00. This depends on material used in piping, age of the house which would help the plumber understand the plumbing code that was used in assembling the plumbing system, access to the plumbing and what is assumed to be creating the blockage.


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