Toilet plugging issue, need some advice on options

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by lindseybp, Mar 7, 2013.

  1. lindseybp

    lindseybp New Member

    Messages:
    14
    Location:
    Ohio
    Hoping to get some advice from folks on here. So we have a basement bathroom with a toilet, stand up shower and sink. The house is from the 1920's and this bathroom was probably added within the last 10 years prior to when we moved in. We have been in the house for almost 6 years and have never had any problems with the toilet or anything else in this bathroom. Within the past few months the toilet has started acting up. Sometimes it flushes normally. Sometimes the water fills up and then drains very slowly. Usually when that happens the water goes all the way down to the point where it is so low there is "burping" of the water, i.e. i'm assuming this is air releasing. So this morning I had a reputable plumbing company come and look at it. They think either there may be blockage somewhere or they plumbing may not have been installed properly when the bathroom was built.

    So the options right now are: a.) $400 to pull up the toilet and they bring a machine in and do a snake. No guarantee this will work. b.) run a camera down to see if they can tell what the problem is, this is $250. The other option is that the plumbing is set up wrong and they would have to re-do it. I'm sure this would be very expensive and it would be a last resort for us. The guy mentioned it was possible the plumbing was set up incorrectly and there was no venting or something like that. We have never had a problem with the sink or shower water pressure or draining. We also have a washer and dryer hooked up in the basement along with a big sink beside them and have never had a problem with any of those either. The toilet has worked fine for years up until a few months ago. I'm assuming if we had plumbing issues or no vent that this would have appeared early on after we bought the house. The only thing I have done down there recently is turned off the valves leading to the outside spigot so the water wouldn't freeze per my neighbors advice. That was a few months ago. The valves are located in the ceiling above the toilet. I did buy a snake a few days ago at the local hardware and tried to snake the toilet. It was roughly a 4 ft snake. It seemed to go down as it should but it didn't do anything.

    So basically I'm looking for some advice on what to do here. I didn't expect the problem to be so costly but at the same time I need to get it fixed. I would appreciate any advice on this issue to help me make a decision on what my next step should be.
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2013
  2. joemcl

    joemcl In the Trades

    Messages:
    30
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Is the toilet the only problem you are having draining? If it were in your main drain it would most likely show up in the shower first.
  3. lindseybp

    lindseybp New Member

    Messages:
    14
    Location:
    Ohio
    We have not used the shower since the problem started. Not intentionally because of the problem, we just have had no need to use it. In the past the shower was never an issue. Do you think it would be beneficial to run the shower for a few minutes to see if that drain works properly? One other thing I thought of...there have been a few times in the past few months where it smelled a little when I went down in the basement near the bathroom. I wouldn't call it extremely strong but strong enough when I walked past the bathroom door that I noticed it....kind of a sewer/rotten eggs smell I guess maybe a handful of times.
  4. Cameron Fields

    Cameron Fields Implementer/Inventor

    Messages:
    98
    Location:
    Florida
    Try to replace the flapper in the toilet sometimes it will get slime on the bottom and let out to much or to little water out resulting in little water with burping in the bowl. I have noticed even with new installations if it burps wait for the tank to fill all the way up and then hold the lever down until all the water has rushed out.
  5. joemcl

    joemcl In the Trades

    Messages:
    30
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    If your main drain were backed up the water from the toilet would back up into the shower base, being the lowest point in the bathroom. It sounds as if your toilet has a blockage. A closet auger (snake) should clear it. You can also try to plunge it.
  6. lindseybp

    lindseybp New Member

    Messages:
    14
    Location:
    Ohio
    I have tried plunging the bejesus out of it and it doesn't seem to help. Man were my arms tired! I tried a roughly 3-4 ft snake but that didn't help either.
  7. 6t7gto

    6t7gto DIY Junior Member

    Messages:
    47
    Location:
    Bedford, Ohio
    Are you sure something wasn't dropped into the toilet.
    My mom's toilet acted up in a similar manner. Plunging and snaking didn't help.
    Removed the toilet, turned it upside down and with a telescopic mirror, found a comb had fallen off the tank top and lodged in the toilet.
    David
  8. lindseybp

    lindseybp New Member

    Messages:
    14
    Location:
    Ohio
    I'm pretty sure nothing was dropped in but can't be 100% positive. There really isn't anything near it that could drop in and no kids use the toilet.
  9. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,314
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    You can be pretty dang sure that there "is" something in the trapway of the bowl.
    Nobody ever drops thing in, but we sure pull out a lot of "things".

    A snake is worthless. We use a closet auger with a 1-5/8 head on it. If something is stuck, the we pull the bowl and auger from the bottom.

    [​IMG]

    Stores don't sell these, only plumbing supply stores have them. The box stores are only 7/8", which is next to worthless.

    http://www.terrylove.com/forums/showthread.php?18133-How-to-use-a-closet-auger-on-a-plugged-toilet
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2013
  10. lindseybp

    lindseybp New Member

    Messages:
    14
    Location:
    Ohio
    Thanks for all the great feedback. I'm thinking, based on my options, I should have them pull the toilet and use their heavy duty auger as the first step. I'm not sure what sending a camera down would do for me other than being cheaper? If the camera shows a clog then it would have to be augered anyway. I did buy a closet auger at ace hardware that was roughly 3 ft long and stuck that down the toilet with no results. But I guess if the clog is further down the line that would not have gotten it. I don't have the skills or time right now to pull the toilet to auger. The guy kind of scared me by saying it may be that the plumbing was installed wrong or that there was no venting. If it was this serious I would think I would have seen something years ago. Thoughts?
  11. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,273
    Location:
    New England
    Not what Terry said...the problem is likely IN the toilet, so pulling it and snaking the line would do nothing. It COULD be in the line, but is more likely in the toilet. Run the shower and see if after running it for say 5-minutes or so, it starts to back up. IF it does, it's in the drain, if it drains fine, it's likely in the toilet or nearby, and a toilet auger has a good chance of getting it out.
  12. Hairyhosebib

    Hairyhosebib New Member

    Messages:
    173
    Location:
    Arizona
    Toilets are like coffee pots. Use some kind of delimer such as CLR or Zepp makes a great product or use vinegar to clean it. There might be a tree root ball growing in the drain pipe just under the toilet too. All the water passges need to be cleaned out. Remove the tank lid and put a funnel in the open pipe sticking out of the middle and pour it in there. Brown goop should start coming out of the holes under the rim. Pour some in the bowl and let it work for awhile. The top of the trap can get really rough with buildup so TP and dooky don't go down good. Don't use a sulpher drain cleaner it will get really hot and break the toilet. Muriatic acid or pool acid is the best but that stuff will take your breath away and tickle your nose. It just depends on your bravery rate. It should flush much like new again.
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2013
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