I hope you can help me. I have a tenanted house with a toilet flushing problem. I should tell you that the problem toilet is the lowest stack connection of three 3-piece washrooms (and one washing machine) located above one another.
I''ve asked the tenants to keep a log of what happens over the last 2 – 3 weeks and this is what they observed.
The toilet begins flushing, but then nothing seems to happen. Water pours into the bowl, but there seems to be no water draining out. The bowl fills up quite high with water and then stops doing anything. Usually some of the solid matter goes down, but very little (under 25%). Sometimes it doesn''t flush even when there is only liquid in the bowl.
It usually drains out slowly in under a minute, but only the water. Then when you flush again, it sometimes does it again or it flushes like normal. Usually it doesn''t require more than two flushes. For whatever the reason in the past it used to be more than two flushes possibly because the upstairs tenant used to do a lot more laundry than the current one.
There seems to be no pattern as to the time of day or how many people are home.
let me understand this--tenent flushes commode --it fills but nothing goes down?
then on second flush it does?
Reply to Greg's Post: Hi:
Thanks for your quick reply.
My understanding is that it does flush normally the first time but there is this intermittent problem occuring from time to time. I've attached his the full content of his email as follows;
"There isn't, unfortunately, strong
pattern emerging with the toilet, but we have noticed a few things
that may be notable for you:
1. when the toilet doesn't flush the bowl fills precariously high.
2. often it barely just flushes.
3. more likely to flush if there's no bathroom tissue in the bowl.
4. there's very little suction when it doesn't flush
5. it doesn't seem to have anything to do with how much solid matter
is in the bowl (other than tissue).
6. sometimes it doesn't flush even when there is only liquid in the bowl.
7. it doesn't seem to matter how many people are home or using the
toilet. It has had it not flush properly even when the other tenants are not there.
Exactly what happens:
The toilet begins flushing, but then nothing seems to happen. Water pours into the bowl, but there seems to be no water draining out. The
bowl fills up quite high with water and then stops doing anything. Usually some of the solid matter goes down, but very little (under 25%).
How long to drain out:
It then usually drains out slowly in under a minute, but only the water. It then takes a couple of minutes to fill up the tank. Then,
when you flush again, it sometimes does it again, it sometimes flushes like normal.
What time of day this happens:
It has actually not been doing this (requiring more than two flushes) as much as it used to. For whatever reason, it used to do this a lot
when Katie and I lived together and XXXXX XXXXXved upstairs and it now usually flushes in two flushes. The only reason I can think of for
this is that Andrew did a lot more laundry than Katie (at least every day) and it would have used a lot more water.
There has been no pattern as to the time of day or who is home".
Not to interfer with the expert that is working with you but please answer this question:
Is the stack being used above this toilet at the same time this one is being flushed?
How old is this toilet?
Per your water situation, do you have hard water?
Is there alot of calisum build up under the rim of this toilet?
During a "flush" cycle, can you see if all of your water ports under the rim extracting water from the tank to the bowl?
Please answer thes and let us know. Thanks
I would do 2 things --first run a commode snake in the commode and check for any thing that may be in the neck of the commode, many times is a small kids toy that stays forever--second I would check the vent--if you are on the bottom and same stack you may need to add a vent for that commode--also check to be sure the water tank is filling to the line inside--and the flapper valve is staying open all the way--
hope this helps if not let us know
Reply to Gary's Post: Hi:
Usually the stack isn't being used at the same time. The toilet is an American Standard about 15 years old. I've replaced the flapper and snaked the trap once but didn't remove the toilet from the floor. The water is from the City of Toronto municipal system and I assume it's not hard water. I haven't noticed any calcium build up. It's important to note that when there is no waste or no tissue in the bowl the toilet will flush 90% of the time. This problem occurs about 50% of the time when the bowl has something in it.
Your help is greatly appreciated.
but it is a common stack to all the commodes? this problem is only with the lower one correct? If so you may want to also snake the vent its self. small dead flying and walking critters love vent stacks in the winter, and tend to end up at the bottom!
Yes the toilet is on the bottom and same stack asthe other washrooms but has worked without problems for the last 15 years. Why would I need to add a vent for that commode?
to snake the vent would I ghet up on the roof and push the snake all the way down? My guess is the stack id about 30 - 35' long.
I should also say that tank does fill to the line inside and I've repleced flapper valve. Its a 15 year old American Standard toilet & flapper.
yes snake from the roof--my guess that is cast iron stack? or is it pvc?
if the commode is that old it may be time to replace it--but usually am standard does not wear off the glazing in the neck , so dont think that would be the problem, sounds more like a venting problem. Depending on the local code you may be able to t off the existing stack and just add a studder vent for that commode in the wall. They also make what is called a blaster --this uses a lot of air to blow anything hung in the neck of the common through, but I believe it is lack of proper venting. May be something in the vent , sticks leaves, but enough to interfear with the venting process.
40 years experience in mill work and stairs, designed trim 2001 street of dreams home
In with Greg, I can see where he is coming from. However, since you mentioned it moves water and not solids, I would lean towards the toilet. Since the toilet is 15 yrs old, and that you have a build up around the inner ring there is a very good chance that the water needed to move the solids to create the swirling action to be pushed through the toilet trap. When it does push is because you have created a siphon effect.
As per Greg's idea, this is what I have seen. The upper toilets will work because of proper venting. When you flush it goes down the pipe like it is suppose to. However, there could be a partial blockage between the lower and upper toilet. (The one you are having problems with and the one right above it) Now when the toilet (s) above or other waste water gets sent down the line it will hit this partial blockage and "hold" there until it works it's way through. The pipe acts as a holding tank sort of speak. So now we established that there is "water" in the pipe waiting to go onward with there venture. Now comes the time for the lower toilet being used. When flushed air has to escape to allow the solids to travel. When air has not place to go, what happens is that you created an air lock. This will prevent anything from moving until the air can escape. When the blockage is gone, my guess is when the lower of the toilets works. Please keep in mind that your vent pipe is also your sewer pipe.
This is in no way to infringe on what Greg is been saying or that I am over writing what he is saying. These are a couple of things I have ran across in my years of home repair. Please accept Greg's answer since he was the first to help you out. If you feel kind and leave me a tip I would appreciate it very much.
Reply to Greg's Post: Greg:
This sounds promising and doable. The existing stack is PVC. As I mentioned there hasn't been a problem for 15 years, so to my mind it makes more sense that the vent may be partially filled with something so there wouln't be any need for studder vent as you mentioned. Does that make sense to you?
You also mentioned glazing in the neck - what neck? Would that be the inside of the toilet itself?
if the vent can be cleaned with a snake yes--if not--sometimes in older places it wont work for what ever reason --then option is studder vent--neck or trap built in the commode--more expensive commodes have smother finish it the neck, cheaper have rougher and sometimes cause problems, things tend to hang up in it and not move well.
another posibility if the snake wont work is a long hose and a shop vac--but be careful with this and use a wet shop vac--you may get some sewage from it--
neck is an old plumbers term for the siphon to be totally correct--