Toilet isn't flushing well. Bowl fills too much, (& BUBBLES), then drains gradually

Discussion in 'Toilet Forum discussions' started by GoodHeartedTeacher, May 18, 2009.

  1. GoodHeartedTeacher

    GoodHeartedTeacher New Member

    Messages:
    10
    Location:
    A suburb of Detroit, MI
    Help! I have an old house with an old toilet that was working pretty well until recently. No recent constuction or anything, but it started not flushing well. And the scary part was how it would fill all the way to the rim when flushed. I tried plunging it and when it bubbled/burped and flushed I thought I had fixed it. But now, it still fills and then doesn't flush, except that when it's getting close to the rim (over-filling) there are some scary bubbles that come up. Over time, most of the water drains, but not the tissue (or anything else) which wasn't a serious problem until this morning when I had to well, #2 before leaving the house. Please help a lady regain some dignity.
  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,892
    Location:
    New England
    You have a clog...it could be in the trap of the toilet, or somewhere downstream. It could be a pen, pencil, hair pin, cellphone, or any number of things caught in there. Or, it could be a clog further down the line from almost anything. First thing is probably use a toilet auger to see if you can clear things up...
  3. GoodHeartedTeacher

    GoodHeartedTeacher New Member

    Messages:
    10
    Location:
    A suburb of Detroit, MI
    Thank you. When I was at Home Depot, 'the book' said try plunging and if that doesn't work, the next step is an auger. I just started to read all of the warnings when using an auger and I was praying I wouldn't hafta go there. I also recall some judicial show on TV where some veteran plumber had left some sort of coil-thing in this lady's sewer. However, when I went home this afternoon...wheweee! I need to do SOMETHING. Thanks for your wisdom. I will learn all that I can about this and then go auger-shopping. I really can't imagine something 'non-natural' going into that toilet (I keep the lid down 'cuz the cats like to drink THAT water instead of their fresh water). So now I'm worrying is it tree roots down the line. (Ugh!!!) But I will give it a good prayer and then a good shot. Thanks, again!
  4. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

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    7,328
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    If you can't clear it with the toilet auger, you should call a plumber to auger the entire line. Do not even try chemical drain cleaner. They won't work and will create a potential hazard for the plumber.
  5. GoodHeartedTeacher

    GoodHeartedTeacher New Member

    Messages:
    10
    Location:
    A suburb of Detroit, MI
    Thanks! Yes, I knew about not pouring chemicals down there. But can you please tell me more about using an auger. I would LOVE to fix this myself. (Not out of arrogance in my own talents, nor do I underestimate the skill of a professional -- it's just that
    1) I'd like to get rid of this stink today
    2) My house is embarrassingly messy to have someone in
    3) The Detroit teacher salary has me almost totally broke for another week +
    I think I once was able to unclog something (ewwww-gross, I know) with a rubber glove and a determined hand.
    Is this 'trap' that folks refer to reachable. I have a pretty small hand/wrist. I could 'bail' first if that would help. I'm not thrilled with the idea. Just a former Peace Corps Volunteer who knows how to close my eyes and do what's gotta get done.
    Thank you, everyone. I'm really depending on your help.
  6. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

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    7,328
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    You're only going to be able to fix it yourself if the clog is in or very close to the toilet. A toilet auger is just that, it is not a drain auger or snake. If the clog is caused by a foreign object wedged in the toilet trap way, you have a chance. Otherwise, it's time for the professional.
  7. kingsotall

    kingsotall Plunger/TurdPuncher

    And don't be sticking your hand down inside toilets anymore. Good way to get stuck and in a very bad situation.
  8. GoodHeartedTeacher

    GoodHeartedTeacher New Member

    Messages:
    10
    Location:
    A suburb of Detroit, MI
    LOL! Good advice on the "no hand down the toilet!!!" Now THAT would definitely make the news! (When I would eventually be discovered!) Anyway, I believe I had SOME success with my first 'toilet auger' experience. I opted for the Rigid 3ft, because the 6ft looked kinda complicated with the whole expansion process and since the toilet is on the main floor with a basement underneath, I took a gamble that the extra three feet weren't really going to reach a likely-culprit area. I saw a little video with a plumber demonstrating plunging (which I did wrong) and using an auger on Monkeysee.com or something like that. I think that helped. At first I couldn't get the auger in. (It had almost 12 inches of 'snake' extended that seemed kinda flimsy and didn't match the picture on the package diagram. However, I got more and more determinded/forceful and yea...it went a little deeper and then more so. I never sensed a 'clog breakthrough' (unless that was it,) and nothing much happened but when I tried plunging again after that, I got more of the swirl (that I'll never again take for granted) and the ICKY BROWN WATER WENT DOWN and was replaced with clear water. It still doesn't seem to flush quite right -- still overfills a bit and still doesn't take all the tissue down, but it's better. Should I just keep trying the auger and plunger again until it's better or should I count my blessings (including that the cats didn't knock over those candles that I burned all night -- [I hardly ever burn candles and never leave them unattended, but the air needed all the help it could get]) and let it go in this 'almost acceptable' status? Please tell me anything you can. I'm listening and learning from you. I'm guessing that maybe I made some progress but still have a bit of a clog.(??) I realize that I may want to get a professional in to check the whole line at some point, but that will be after Detroit teachers get more money (???) and when the house is more acceptable. Thanks, again! Please keep commenting, I really appreciate it!
  9. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,892
    Location:
    New England
    Well, it sounds like you either poked a hole in the clog or pushed it further down the pipe. An auger is best at removing trapped items, but it does what the name implies...drills through things. A plumber might have to remove the toilet and use a snake on it. That would have a head on it that would actually clean the pipe - the head is large enough in diameter to essentially bore through and chop out whatever may be there.
  10. GoodHeartedTeacher

    GoodHeartedTeacher New Member

    Messages:
    10
    Location:
    A suburb of Detroit, MI
    Hello again. Both possibilities had crossed my mind. (I figured I either had "partial success at unclogging" or "pushed it out of reach...oops!") So, in an effort to avoid the immediate need for a plumber and the whole "take-apart adventure" do you think I might have luck augering some more? It's not that I'm having that much fun with this auger. I'm just wondering if two attempts made some progress, might more attempts ('poke MORE' holes) and make MORE progress. It also seemed a little easier 'to auger' the 2nd time than the first -- either due to practice or due to the unblocking accomplished in the 1st attempt. Also, can someone tell me how one decides whether to plung or auger? I appreciate everyone's help with this. I'm not cheap -- just an inner-city Detroit teacher trying to get by. It's still all a lot easier than when I used a latrine in West Africa for three years. The first time two chickens got down there I felt compelled to help them out. (Picture I big can with bread in the bottom of it on a long rope and remember that chickens don't fly well, but they do flap, jump and try. Anyway, I had to go a LONNNNGGGGGGGGGG time after that without eating chicken, so the next time I just left the lid off and wished the poor thing the best. Never researched what ultimately happened to it!!!!
  11. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,328
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    You certainly can try more of the small auger, but it's rather doubtful that you will have any success, I guess how much longer you try depends on your tenacity. You may not have success, but it won't hurt anything.
  12. GoodHeartedTeacher

    GoodHeartedTeacher New Member

    Messages:
    10
    Location:
    A suburb of Detroit, MI
    Thank you, Terry. I probably run a bit on the tenacious side. 'Have had success with some kids others had written-off based on pure perseverance, determination, and creativity. I think I'll plug away (plung away, oh I mean auger away) as long as it seems to be making any sort of positive difference. If it doesn't help I won't waste my time. Knowing it won't harm was important. Additional question: What's this 'air vent' that folks refer to????
  13. kingsotall

    kingsotall Plunger/TurdPuncher

    For a plumber removing and resetting the toilet is not "a big adventure" so it might be time to reconsider hiring one.
    Vents in your drainage sytem allow air in for proper draining of waste and to keep the fixture traps from siphoning themselves allowing sewer gas to enter your home. The vents also allow the escape of sewer gas.
  14. Cookie

    Cookie .

    Messages:
    5,660
    Location:
    .
    Don't be leaving lit candles burn all night while you are sleeping, with or without cats. Especially if you are living in an apartment building where their are others or kids.

    Buy a can of room spray if it is that bad, or open a window, and do a cat count, maybe one is down there.
  15. GoodHeartedTeacher

    GoodHeartedTeacher New Member

    Messages:
    10
    Location:
    A suburb of Detroit, MI
    Indeed! LOL re: the cat count. Both 12 pound cats are accounted for! The candles were literally over a decade old because I just don't use them -- too many sad stories of house/apt. fires. But I just had to give 'em a chance and then I fell asleep out of pure exhaustion. I know it was grace that everything was ok. The nice thing is that I can STILL smell the fragrance from the one -- and it's been 3 days. The windows are as old as the house and some of them (including the only bathroom window) just won't open. (I think they might have been literally painted shut.) The 'big adventure' wouldn't be the plumber removing the toilet, it would be getting the house clean enough for the plumber to come in!!!! Could the pipe that seems to run from somewhere in my basement out to the yard (about 5 yards from the house) and opens up in the lawn be an 'air vent'? It has a removable cover I have to remember to move before mowing and seems to be getting a little more closed up with grass, so I'm wondering if that could be part of the problem.
  16. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,892
    Location:
    New England
    That may be a cleanout. If it was left open and filled up with crud that couldn't be swept away when you say flushed a toilet or took a shower, then yes, it could be a source of the problem. Might have trapped a fat squirrel or rat, too.

    [​IMG]
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 14, 2009
  17. GoodHeartedTeacher

    GoodHeartedTeacher New Member

    Messages:
    10
    Location:
    A suburb of Detroit, MI
    Ewwwww on the fat rat! So, what's involved with cleaning out THIS air thing? And, is it relevant that the drains in my basement seem to have water 'almost right there' (like 6 to 15 inches below the basement floor)? (I remember thinking that I hadn't ever noticed it being 'right there' when I first moved in years ago, but maybe it was there all along.) Is it relevant that I clearly had some backup in the basement weeks/a month or two ago? (The toilet problem is newer than that.) Is it relevant that after reading 'sewer air' I thought I smelled an odd (perhaps slightly stinky) smell when I ran water from the bathtub spout today? (I know that COULD be because the really-rinsed but not bleached auger and plunger are sitting right there in the tub 'cuz I hadn't quite yet figured out what to do next with them. Is it possible that I'm just totally freaking out now? Is everybody else thinking that I obviously need a pro to dig through all of my pipes and this hope of self-solving is just a pipe-dream? Thanks, friends!
  18. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,892
    Location:
    New England
    If you have standing water below the trap, you have one of two things going on (maybe both) - the pipes aren't sloped properly (maybe a back slope or a belly) that would allow them to drain, or there's something blocking the flow. Drain pipes, except for traps, should only have water or waste in them in passing...i.e., it should drain out to the sewer, not sit in the pipe. If it were to get backed up far enough, you'd see the problem as the toiet won't flush.
  19. GoodHeartedTeacher

    GoodHeartedTeacher New Member

    Messages:
    10
    Location:
    A suburb of Detroit, MI
    Thank you, Jadnashua! I'm beginning to think this more recent toilet issue was not 'THE problem' but rather a symptom of a bigger problem. (Albeit a more notable problem to me.) I am going to do the best I can to deal with it temporarily (more toilet augering and spending more time at work than home) until I can get a pro in to really check the whole system out. (Summer is coming soon, which will mean more time and more money available for such things.) Thanks to all for helping a literally poor teacher out.
  20. GoodHeartedTeacher

    GoodHeartedTeacher New Member

    Messages:
    10
    Location:
    A suburb of Detroit, MI
    Hey All! I thought I posted this, but I'm new to this forum stuff so maybe I did something wrong. The short version is that I broke Kingsotall's rule (again) and put on an extra long rubber glove and really went digging (well, feeling) 'down there' and pulled out a penny. Finding unexpected money ALWAYS means check for more, so I tried again and found another penny, followed by a quarter, a tiny rectangular metal piece, followed by another penny, followed by a little rubbery strip. Then I used the auger again. Then I used the plunger again. Then I got some good clean flushes. I know there maybe a bigger problem still looming and I know the problem may not be completely resolved (I'm concerned that I found these coins -- maybe others were pushed or plunged or flushed further down.) Still, I'm encouraged. I cannot explain how they got there. I know I certainly don't have money to throw/flush away! But I'm grateful!
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