Toilet woes; what to do?

Discussion in 'Toilet Forum discussions' started by IPWinsor, Oct 4, 2007.

  1. IPWinsor

    IPWinsor New Member

    Messages:
    16
    UPDATED, need another consultation: Toilet woes; what to do?

    Ok, I am impressed with the expertise here, I think I might good answers so here goes.

    I have a 2 story house built in 1981. There are 4 bathrooms in the house. a 4 piece and a 2 piece ensuite on the 2nd floor, a 2 piece on the main floor, and a 3 piece in the basement. The basement toilet is a 6L Lamosa Sahara, all the others are 13L Cranes. All 4 came with the house when I bought it 3 years ago. All 4 have pretty old and ratty mechanicals in the tanks.

    The flush power of any of the toilets has not ever been great. The basement and main floor units get the most traffic, and plungings of the basement are regularly required, and it overflows sometimes. The upstairs main bathroom toilet is always slow, and fills up to the rim before slowly going down. It does however have lots of swirl. After repeated plunging, it will speed up, and sometimes will actually flush normal for a few days. The one in the ensuite always goes down, but its pretty lethargic and not much swirl.

    The water here is pretty hard, and the previous owner didn't have a softener. I had one installed when I moved in.

    There are no drainage problems with the basement shower (next to and on the same drain line as the toilet), the bathtub in the second floor main b/r, the shower in the ensuite, or the dishwasher or clothes washer on the main floor. The clothes washer is in the next room to the main floor toilet, and on the same drain, which you can see from the basement.

    Sounds like plugged drains, right? That's what i figured, so I had a local plumber remove the toilets and snake the toilet drains for me. I asked about a plugged vent, but he said that if the vent was plugged, the bathtub would not drain so fast and the clothes washer would back up.

    The snaking did improve things a bit, but it didn't last. The 2 upstairs toilets make occasional burp noises when flushed, and it seems to me that when the main bathroom one is flushing well, the ensuite fushes better. The ensuite will still flush when the main is at its worst.

    I was thinking to try replacing all the in-tank mechanicals, anything to make this stop. I then thought to replace the toilets, as it will cut my water use a lot and I can get a $50 rebate from the government.

    What do you all think? Will new toilets help, or am I missing some other core problem that is the real cause of my grief? Any other suggestions?

    In reading your forum, I see you like Toto's, but 3 or 4 of them is out of my budget. I was going to compromise on A/S Cadet 3s.

    Help?!?

    Ian Winsor
    Milton, Ontario, Canada
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2008
  2. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    Cadet 3 has developed a fine reputation as an excellent flusher, and very modest price for it's class of toilet.

    It probably flushed better than the 3.5 gallon jobs, and should be light years better than the Lamosa.
  3. Peanut9199

    Peanut9199 Customer Service Manager Plumbing Wholesale

    Messages:
    875
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    Basement toilets are always the worst because you do not have the gravity to help with the flow water and the waste waste will only flow a little way.
    Back in the day when you had 5 gallons of water it was fine but now with 1.6 it's not good.
    This is why toilets like Toto Drakes are good because of thier flush, its like a waterfall and gives the water a good flow.
    I'm wondering if the waste is only going so far and backing up causing the rest of the problems.
  4. achutch

    achutch New Member

    Messages:
    193
    Location:
    Vermont
    My condo was built in 1986 and came with two Crane Galaxy 3.5 gallon toilets. They did exactly as you described with yours. My second floor toilet swirled, didn't drain, and overflowed twice. The first floor toilet was sluggish. My neighbors had the same problem. I replaced both of mine, as did two of my neighbors. The company who installed the plumbing admitted that there was a batch of toilets with "bad castings", and noticed when the next phase of units was built that they used Gerber instead of Crane.

    Two years ago, I assisted a friend from work with the removal of two Lamosa Sahara toilets. They also behaved as you describe with yours, in fact the one in the main bathroom plugged and overflowed often.

    All of the problems mentioned above went away with the installation of new toilets.

    I have 4 toilets, 2 each in a condo and a camp. The toilet in my main bathroom at the condo is a Toto Drake. I am completely satisfied with it, as it works far better than any 3.5 gallon toilet that I have seen or used. The other 3 are antiques, valuable probably only to me.

    Jimbo mentions the Cadet 3. I have used one in an office building, was impressed by the flush (it mimics the Drake), and had a look inside the tank at its 3-inch flush valve and Fluidmaster Model 400A fill valve. If I could not find Toto, my first choice, then the Cadet 3 would be my second.

    Someone on this forum did a demo flush of his Cadet 3. Look through the threads so you can see it for yourself.

    You won't go wrong by replacing those 4 nasty toilets, and when you do, you will realize much more than a good flush: peace of mind knowing that the new ones are not likely to clog, overflow and embarrass you or your guests, plus your water bills will decrease dramatically as mine did.

    Good luck!

    achutch
  5. IPWinsor

    IPWinsor New Member

    Messages:
    16
    When it does not plug itself (and I am really sure the plugs happen in the toilet trapway, not in the drain pipe), the Lamosa in the basement has the best water flow during flush of any toilet in the house. Its about 12 feet from the main drain to the sewer. As the shower I use daily is on the same drain (I think it is anyways), I believe the shower water would back up if the driain was the problem.
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2007
  6. IPWinsor

    IPWinsor New Member

    Messages:
    16
    Thanks for the advice.

    I think the Lamosa plugging is more do with me, and volume of waste I generate. I think the Cadet 3's 1000 MAP rating is more suited to the requirement. The last straw was yesterday, when the Lamosa plugged AND the flapper valve stuck, so the water kept coming. I had to hold the float valve up for 10 minutes while standing is a puddle of overflow waiting for the bowl level to go down so I could plunge it, then clean up the mess! My wife hates it too, as sometimes I don't know I plugged it until she goes to use it next. Pardon the pun, but I take a lot of "crap" when that happens!

    I watched the video a few times.

    My 82 yr old father in law lives with us also. He takes 4 diuritic pills a day, and figures he goes to the bathroom at least 12 times a day. Doing the math, switching his 12L Crane to a 6L Cadet 3 will save me enough water to over half fill my swimming pool.
  7. achutch

    achutch New Member

    Messages:
    193
    Location:
    Vermont
    WOW!! With a horror story like that, it's clear that the Lamosa's has to be the first to go! (At least it's not on an upper floor where it could leak through the ceiling)! Of the two Lamosas that I helped my friend replace, one was still up and running when I arrived. The tank "innards" were truly cheap and in poor shape. The tank was so loose that it was leaning against the wall. I'm surprised that it wasn't leaking.

    Yes, with the amount of use that your toilets are getting now, you'll definitely save a lot of water with the Cadet 3. Some day I may replace the "antique" in my condo half bath, maybe with a Toto Aquia. I like the dual flush idea. Combining it with the savings from the Drake and the new front loader washer that I bought in January, my water and sewer bills would really drop.

    Let this forum know when you make the switch and what you think of the new toilet.

    achutch
  8. IPWinsor

    IPWinsor New Member

    Messages:
    16
    UPDATED, need another consultation: Toilet woes; what to do?

    Since I posted this thread originally, I purchased 4 AS Cadet 3's and started replacing my toilet's 1 at a time.

    I first replaced the 2nd floor main bathroom. It worked ok at first, but would always backup if you actually put any waste material in the bowl and flushed. The water level will always eventually go down, and its usually end up well below the normal height, maybe 2 to 3 inches of water above the bottom of the bowl. Flushing it will result in the correct amount of water in the bowl, but it disappears of the next few hours. Today, I removed the toilet, put it in the bathtub, and filled the bowl to the correct height (per a thread I found here). It was still the same height a few hours later, so I do not think I have a leaky bowl.

    Undaunted, I next replaced the basement toilet, the one myself and the Mrs. use most often. It was a challenging job due to the previous owner cementing it to the floor (there is another thread here with details and pics), but it was well worth it. The basement toilet now flushes large and powerful. I have given it my best "effort" and it always takes everything away on the first flush. Awesome, and no more complaints from the wife!!

    Next up was the main floor toilet. An easier job, although it required a flange extension. The result was another good flusher, and a lot of water saved, as my father-in-law (who is on diuretics) flushes it 12 to 15 times a day.

    With house guests coming next week, I revisited the 2nd floor master bathroom. I removed the toilet and found that there was an inch of water sitting in the waste pipe. I got a bucket and started pouring water into the pipe. The pipe takes the water away, but there was always visible water in the elbow of the pipe. I snaked the drain with a homeowner quality snake (not very big) and noted that if I jerked the snake wire in and out of the drain, I could create waves in the visible water in the drain. I began pouring water from the bucket agian, and all of a sudden, the drain burped and the visible water was gone.

    I went to the 2nd floor ensuite toilet and noted it flushes much better when the master BR toilet is off the drain. I capped the Master BR drain, and the ensuite toilet does not flush so well.

    I think I have a vent issue; what do you all think? Comments?

    Thanks.

    Ian Winsor
    Milton, Canada
  9. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,995
    Location:
    New England
    Standing water in the drain is a sure sign of a clog. The small snake probably just poked a hole in it, which allowed what was there to drain through, but when anything large was added, it clogged back up again. Sounds like a pro-sized snaking of the line is in order. This would be one the diameter of the pipe, not a small portion of it.
  10. patrick88

    patrick88 Plumber

    Messages:
    836
    Location:
    Webster Ma.
    If you use very thick T/P you might have a build up of it. I've seen this before. The closet bend was full of paper causing the toilet not to flush well.

    I would say having a good drain cleaning Co. come out and hydro jet the lines and video them also to see if everything is ok. Jetting the lines cleans them 360 around and can be less hash on the pipes. Large cable machines use metal blades and can scrape the pipe and does not hit every inch 360 around.
  11. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Jetting? Do you want to tell him the price?

    I'm thinking pitch problem on that drain. I could fix the pipe for less than you jet for.
  12. IPWinsor

    IPWinsor New Member

    Messages:
    16
    Same TP I use in all my other toilets.
  13. IPWinsor

    IPWinsor New Member

    Messages:
    16

    Tell me more about a pitch problem? What does that mean?
  14. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    The pipe is not pitched away from the toilet and water collects in the bottom instead of running out.

    With out a camera or snaking the drain with a head as big as the ID of the pipe, it will be hard to tell if that is the problem.
  15. Herk

    Herk Plumber

    Messages:
    547
    Location:
    S.E. Idaho
    Sometimes the floor settles, or maybe the pipe was poorly installed. Water in the drain often indicates that it runs uphill from the toilet and it simply will not flush well until the pipe is installed correctly.
  16. IPWinsor

    IPWinsor New Member

    Messages:
    16
    Had a pro plumber in today. $65; snaked with a pro snake; problem solved.

    Thanks
  17. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,615
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    toilets

    Any plumber who treats an upstairs toilet like the drain line is plugged had better have a good explanation as to how it can happen without a deluge from the first floor toilets first. A second floor toilet problem is in the toilet itself 99.99999% of the times. The model of snake is unimportant as long as he knew that was what was needed and how to do it, and with the age of your toilets that might not have been the total cure.
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