Poor flushing toilet w/ low sloping drain

Discussion in 'Toilet Forum discussions' started by Charlie C, Jun 21, 2014.

  1. Charlie C

    Charlie C New Member

    Messages:
    2
    Location:
    Colorado
    Hi everyone and a big thanks to all that respond in advance,

    My girlfriend and I are both widows who met on eHarmony. She owns a home that her late husband built himself for her. The problem we are having is a poor flushing toilet. It is in the back country and has a septic system, it is so bad I have been using the back 40 acres and a shovel when I have to go #2. We have a bucket in the bath room we dump in the toilet to help get solids down the drain. She has informed me that her late husband had a hard time getting proper fall between the house and the septic tank because of solid rock, so the slop is very gradual. I'm not sure what the slope really is? The other drains in the house work fine, the only problem is the toilet. I hope I will not have to dig it up. The existing toilet is an American Standard, not sure the model because we do not live there full time at the moment and I failed to write it down last time I was there. I know it is a 1.6 gallon tank and was bought around 2004 or 2005. After researching toilets I thinking of replacing it with a Toto. My question is (finally) would a 1.28 gallon be better than a 1.6 gallon given the lack of slope between the toilet and the tank or should I stay with a 1.6 gallon, I'm considering the model Drake? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks again to all that respond,

    Charlie C
  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,180
    Location:
    New England
    The drain line must have slope with no flat spots, or bellies (places where it may go down, then back up again). If any of those exist, no toilet will flush well. Generally, a 2% slope, or 1/4"/foot minimum is required the entire run.

    But, describe in more detail what happens when you try to flush. If things just swirl around, then it could be that the line is full because it hasn't drained. If you can take a bucket and pour water down, and it doesn't back up, that probably isn't the issue.

    But, more info is needed to evaluate the situation.
  3. wjcandee

    wjcandee Wise One

    Messages:
    1,901
    Location:
    New York, NY
    Does the toilet appear to "clog" and you can clear it with a plunger? Or does it just not go down? Are any of the drains that DO work on a lower level or further downstream from the toilet?

    You may have a drain line issue, or you just may have a toilet that doesn't flush well. That's certainly the time period for it, when the 1.6s often didn't flush well. In the TOTO line, the 1.28s and the 1.6s flush pretty much the same nowadays -- which is to say they flush well.
  4. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,146
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    An American Standard, between 2004 and 2005 was not real good.
    Replace the toilet and see how it goes. I had one of those about that vintage, and after a few months I had to remove it. I never did figure out why it quit on me.
  5. Charlie C

    Charlie C New Member

    Messages:
    2
    Location:
    Colorado
    I’m not exactly sure about the drain line to the tank except that there was not much slope, no pics to go by and I am trying not to dig it up. When the toilet is flushed the water goes around but is very slow to leave the bowl. Same thing when water is added to the bowl from a bucket, slow to leave the bowl but it does not back up. After talking with my girlfriend I was wrong about the date of purchase, it was bought in 2008.
    The house is a single level and there are 2 bathroom sinks a laundry sink and a washing machine drain downstream from the toilet. They all work fine. The toilet doesn’t really clog just seem so slow it doesn’t take solids down. Plunging does not seem to make a difference.
    I do plan to replace the toilet and since I do know the slope of the drain line is at a minimum, would a 1.28 gallon toilet be better than a 1.6 gallon. If they both flush about the same, I am thinking the 1.28 would not backup as fast as the 1.6? Or will the 1.6 help push the solids down the pipe better than the 1.28?

    Thanks for the feedback guys,
    Charlie C
  6. johndenis

    johndenis New Member

    Messages:
    2
    Location:
    India
    Thanks for sharing these experiences with us about toilet flushing problem.
  7. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,869
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    The slope of the drain line has VERY little to do with the toilet flushing, unless the pipe is always full of water, or there is not a proper vent. The flushing action is COMPLETELY inside the toilet and if it is not flushing properly the toilet has to be repaired or serviced.
  8. Wallijonn

    Wallijonn Member

    Messages:
    147
    Location:
    Arizona
    Is the house level with the street? Usually they present problems and are more likely to have septic tanks.

    Do you have big trees in your yard, say between the septic tank and the toilet? A tree root could be trying to get inside the pipe, or it could have lifted the pipe, just as tree roots raise concrete sidewalks. Do a google search for your tree types - see if they are listed as having invasive roots. If you cut a tree down in your property you may want to dig up the root to make sure it hasn't invaded your pipes. I cut one down only to find that the tree trunk had grown around a irrigation pipe. I no longer have trees on my property - not after seeing my neighbours side walk being lifted 6" at a seam and his block wall being lifted at where it meets the sidewalk.
  9. dw85745

    dw85745 Member

    Messages:
    71
    Location:
    Arizona
    I just went through this last year at a 30+ year old house occupied part of the year.
    Depending on how its plumbed you could have problems just on that line.
    Personally I'd run a camera down the line.
    However, if that is not an option, I'd start at the septic tank and work back.
    Has the tank been emptied lately?
    In the case at hand, the septic tank had been put in reverse -- not as uncommon as you think.
    I'd measure the inlet and outlet on the septic tank to make sure there is approx 2 inch difference between them (the outlet being lower than the inlet). Then like Wallijonn mentioned, look to see if you have any tree roots.
    In the case of this tank the lid had been lifted 3 inches on one side and about 1/3 to 1 inch on the other by two different trees and there was a bubble in the inlet pipe from the roots.
    The line was 3/4 full and still functioned - except unknown to the owner water was seeping under the toilet most likely at each flush.
    If you can't camera, I'd run a snake down the line and at least see if any roots show up.
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2014
  10. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,180
    Location:
    New England
    If the water is slow to leave the bowl, it is either something in the trapway of the toilet, or the drain line is full. It could be something as simple as a hair pin, comb, toothbrush, small toy, etc.

    Does the toilet actually back up, or just a lousy flusher? Has it always operated the same, or has it changed recently?
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