Unusual Alternating Toilet Flushing Pattern

Discussion in 'Toilet Forum discussions' started by soca, Jul 1, 2011.

  1. soca

    soca New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    Southern California
    I have a cement slab house with back to back toilets ( hall and back bedroom ). The bedroom toilet works fine as does all of the rest of the plumbing in the house. The only problem is this hall toilet. There is a Palm tree adjacent to this part of the house and I did pull some Palm tree roots out of this toilet with a 3 foot toilet auger ( after fully inserting it ). My question is about the flushing pattern observed with this hall toilet. One flush the bowl fills and only SLIGHTLY empties.The next flush the bowl fills then slowly but COMPLETELY empties. The water level in the bowl returns to slightly below the normal resting level. This alternating flushing pattern occurs every time the toilet is tested. No deviation from this alternating flushing pattern. What type of blockage or other problem would create this type of flushing pattern ? Thanks much for any help.
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2011
  2. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,247
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    Take your toilet off the floor. Then take a knife and remove ALL the roots under the toilet which are growing INTO, (not out of), the toilet pipe. Remove as many as possible from around the flange then mix salt with water and pour it into the gap around the pipe. Replace the toilet and expect to do the other one shortly, and/or redo this one in six months or so.
  3. soca

    soca New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    Southern California
    I'm in Southern California. What can I expect to pay a plumber to do this work ? Thanks much !
  4. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    4,185
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    Not sure why you feel the need for an explanation when what you really need is Roto-Rooter.

    When the toilet tank refills, a small amount of water is directed to the bowl. The first flush fills the bowl and the refill tube adds to it. The second flush adds to the water in the bowl from the first flush and finally goes around the trap after well wetting the roots. The now wetted roots in the trap wick the water out of the bowl through capilliary action including what the refill tube supplies.
  5. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,247
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    The roots are growing UNDER the floor, and have come up around the pipe, through the wax ring, and then DOWN into the toilet pipe. Roto-Rooter will create a project out of a simple process, and may NOT even cure the problem when they leave. The roots are ALWAYS wet, but have created a "sponge" that lets water out, but NOT any solids. I once had a condition like this with THREE major roots, about 36" long, growing into the pipe, even though the roors coming out of the floor were not much larger than pencil leads. When I showed it to the homeowners, (who were friends of mine, by the way), she said, "And here I have be blaming the kids for plugging up the toilet every day". If my diagnosis is correct, and your description of the problem indicates that it is, then a good plumber should be able to fix it with his minimum fee, or slightly higher.
  6. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,416
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    If the bowl isn't full, then the first flush will fill the bowl and not have enough water to also clear the bowl
    The first flush fills the bowl and the second flush, because now the bowl is full can complete the job.

    Check to see if the the small black tube from the fill valve is pointed into the overflow tube. This is what refills the bowl after a flush.
  7. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    4,185
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    I was trying to explain a phenomenon like a wet towel hanging over the edge of a sink full of water. The wetter the towel, the faster it will syphon/wick the water out of the sink. A dry towel will take much longer.

    The water in the toilet bowl gets wicked down below the level of the S trap by roots in the trap just like the wet towel draped over the rim of the sink.
  8. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades Master of one

    Messages:
    4,508
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    Palm tree roots normally go deep.

    You need to Cut it down, or cut the roots and water it so that it don't drink out of your toilet.


    DonL
  9. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,247
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    quote; You need to Cut it down, or cut the roots and water it so that it don't drink out of your toilet.

    Good luck with that. I have had roots from trees which were cut down 25 years ago plug sewers. And the one which I described had the toilet in the CENTER of the house, not by an exterior wall, and the nearest tree was 20' from the house. Another one I worked on, the roots were growing out and around the toilet. It looked like one of the "monsters from Mars" in a Bugs Bunny cartoon.
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