Random Intermittent Toilet Flush Problem

Discussion in 'Toilet Forum discussions' started by Mark M, Dec 5, 2006.

  1. Mark M

    Mark M New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Starting two weeks ago our upstairs toilet will not always flush correctly. Nine out of ten times the toilet will flush fine with good suction. Then randomly it will not evacuate the bowl, filling with water to within two inches of the rim and the water just sits there and will not drain at all. It does not seem to matter what was flushed as it will do this when only water was in the bowl. I have snaked the toilet and the drain of the sink in the same bathroom and I have not found an obstruction. The downstairs toilet and sinks appear to be working correctly.
  2. Randyj

    Randyj Master Plumber

    Messages:
    1,047
    Location:
    Alabama
    I've run into similar problems. The one for sure that I corrected did not have adequate fall on the sewer/drain line. Once the drain filled the toilet quit working until it finally drained out slowly. I simply dropped the other end of the offending part of the drain and it worked fine. Your problem/solution may be different.
  3. what drains it? How do you get it to drain?

    mark

    What causes it to drain? How do you get it to drain?
    What do you do that makes the toilet drain again?
    Nothing? Leave it alone and wait?
    Plunger? How do you open up the drain?

    Then, when it does finally drain, is it fast or slow at that moment in time?

    david
  4. Mark M

    Mark M New Member

    Messages:
    3
    I use a plunger to get it unstuck, but it take a very long time compared to the time it takes to dislodge a normal clog.
  5. It drains slowly??

    mark

    does this mean that it doesn't drain as it normally does, once you get the water to move? No speed, no head, no rush?

    and this has happened several times?

    david
  6. Mark M

    Mark M New Member

    Messages:
    3
    To be more precise, I use the plunger to push the water down and out of the bowl. I flush the toilet and repeat with the plunger. I have to do this several times and then it flushes correctly. Otherwise, the high water will sit in the bowel for a long time (over an hour) before it before it drains away.
  7. plumber1

    plumber1 Plumber

    Messages:
    1,423
    Location:
    Florida
    Push a good closet auger through the toilet. You've got an object in the there.
  8. mblts

    mblts New Member

    Messages:
    1
    toilet help for you

    :p Ok. You can try this. It worked for me after about a month of trying everything. In the bottom of your bowl where the water goes down, is there a small hole? If so this is your jet. Stick your finger inside and see if it is clogged with anything. Hard water build up etc. If you can not fit your whole finger in there it is clogged. Take a screwdriver or butter knife, anything you can use to scape off what is plugging it. Tada!! This worked for me. Hope this helps. :)
  9. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    If you use a closet auger and nothing changes pull the toilet and take it out side if you can and tip it over so you can inspect the trap from the underside. also check the drain from there by pouring a couple of full 5 gallon buckets of water quickly down through the flange.

    B4 pulling the toilet reach your hand as far up the trap way as possible and feel for an obstruction also get a small mirror and flashlight. Shine the flashlight into the mirror and reflect the light into the trap way at the same time and you may be able to inspect the trap way with your eyes also. Autozoon sells nice inspection mirrors at a low price.
  10. chasbo

    chasbo Plumber

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Vermont
    The toilet that acts up!

    I would almost bet you have a small item in the trapway going from the flush valve to the sphion jet hole , and it is to large to fit thru the jet and every so often as you flush it is caught in the jet hole , suggest that if you don,t resolve your issue soon, throw away the water closet and get new, its cheaper than all the wasted time fussing with it and the agravation will all go away ! , How ever this wouldn,t explain the bowl filling up with water to the top , only the water closet not flushing good, so are you in a cold climate ? perhaphs your plumbing vent is frozen over .
  11. drkilmer

    drkilmer New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Your problem sounds exactly like mine! Mine is an older house and I don't know how old the toilet is, but in the past few months it just clogs up once in a while for no appparent reason. I bought a closet auger (they're surprisingly cheap ... mine was about $8) and thought I had fixed the issue, but alas I did not. I have had a problem with another toilet in our house that clogged frequently from what turned out to be a rubber duck my toddler threw in, and this case does act similar, but I'd have thought the auger would have cleared it. I have not pulled up this toilet to inspect it yet, but it looks like I'll have to.

    One thing I was wondering about was whether or not the vent pipe that sticks up through the roof might be partially clogged ... would this cause inadequate flush in this toilet? This particular one is the highest fixture in the house, in an upstairs bathroom. Often when we flush either of the toilets, the sink traps gurgle loudly. I haven't gone up on the roof to try clearing the vent pipe yet because the roof is WAY high and WAY steep and I REALLY hate getting up there.

    Let's keep in touch here and see if we can figure this thing out.
  12. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,056
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    auger

    There is more to using a closet auger than just buying one and screwing it through the bowl. I have been to countless jobs where the owner is positive there is nothing in the bowl because he used his auger, but when I use mine I pull back some object, (the most recent one was a piece of ABS sewer pipe, that no one even knew what it was or where it came from).
  13. plumber1

    plumber1 Plumber

    Messages:
    1,423
    Location:
    Florida
    Usually with an object in the toilet, you should do a paper test and it shows you that there is still is something in there.

    I opened up the hook on the end of the cable and worked the auger in backwards and then removed the auger in a clockwise motion. Most things would come out, or go down the other way, but I damn well knew when there was something still in there.

    Just because you make it flush by using an auger doesn't mean you got the object out. The paper test will tell you.

    Of course if you do a lot of calls it becomes subjective and you have to use experience and common sense to know when you have to pull the toilet.
  14. norcal1

    norcal1 Plumber/Owner

    Messages:
    91
    Sometimes you just have to pull the toilet to remove the object. Case in point was when I pulled a toilet and found a slim design cell phone in the bottom of the toilet...the darn thing would slide around and sometimes cover the opening which would clog the toilet and sometimes it would slide to the side, which left enough room for the waste to be flushed down the drain.

    As has been said, use a mirror to see as far as you can down the toilet trap. You will usually be able to spot culprits such as a tootbrush or reading glasses.

    Good luck.
  15. petergunn

    petergunn New Member

    Messages:
    26
    borescope

    Or if you have access to a borescope (flexible fiber optic inspection scope with a built in light) then you could just have a look round the bend. The 36 inch ones cost ~$200.
  16. drkilmer

    drkilmer New Member

    Messages:
    3
    I used the aiger again an indeed it seems to have fixed it. Whatever might have been in there may have been pushed on through this time.

    I know what you mean about some items having to be removed by taking up the toilet. I was out of town for a few days and one of our toilets got hopelessly stopped up. My wife called a plumber, who came over and augered it and told her he'd have to install a new toilet. When I came home from my trip, I took the toilet up and removed a rubber duckie my toddler had tried to flush down.

    I appreciate all the help and advice.
  17. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,056
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    toilet

    Only a lazy plumber, or one on commission, will say he has to replace the toilet if the auger does not work.
  18. drkilmer

    drkilmer New Member

    Messages:
    3
    I know I'm straying off topic ... but that plumber charged her $75 and wrote "No Refunds" on the bill. So I sent a complaint to the Better Business Bureau. I got a call from the owner and a refund of my $75.

    The upstairs toilet still seems to be working OK since my second attempt at augering it. WooHoo!
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