Strange Plumbing Problem
Posted by Fritz Owens on May 29, 2002 at 10:01:23:

Dear Sir or Madame,

Here's a real brain teaser for your plumbing experts. Back in 1999 we started construction of an addition on our house. It has a extra bathroom which has a shower with two shower heads, a vanity and a commercial toilet - that is a 17 inch long toilet
bowl with a Sloan commercial valve. There is also a 50 gallon water heater that serves only this bathroom. The entire water supply for this bathroom is brand new and has been in use now for about a year and a half. It is separate from the water supply for the rest of the house, has all top grade copper pipes with the main feeder pipe coming off of the meter.

Starting about a year ago, you would not believe the problems I started having with the toilet not flushing properly. Our plumber is extremely knowledgeable and competent and we have been doing business with him for over 18 years. He came back, changed everything that could be changed including switching from a Sloan to a Zurn valve. Nothing worked. All signs were that everything was in order but still it took six or seven flushes to get clean water in the toilet. I have some very graphic pictures of that regular occurrence if you would like to see them. The plumber said he had no idea what was going on.

After much hassle, he persuaded the American Standard rep to spring for a new toilet. That didn't work right either. If anything it worked worse than the other one.

About six weeks ago, I used the toilet, pressed the handle and turned away expecting the usual "gurgle, gurgle, gurgle" and the prospect of having to flush the toilet again about five or six more times to get clean water. Instead, there was a loud "WHOOSH!" that startled the living hell out of me and the toilet flushed like it did when it was first installed.

I got my wife to call the plumber to see if he had come over and done something without us knowing it. He told her he hadn't been near our house in a month or so. The only thing different in the water supply is that the people who are renovating the house
behind us had my permission from when they started to use our electricity and our water. They had used the electricity for about three weeks until their drop was put in and then came over one morning and hooked a 75' or 100' 3/4" hose to the NEW
bathroom water supply and turned the water on and left it on with a shut-off valve on the end of the hose. That's when the toilet started working properly.

I didn't know this for 10 days because I never considered that hose hookup had anything to do with the toilet flushing.

Here's an excerpt of the message I e-mailed to our plumber 10 days after I called him on the phone about the toilet suddenly working:

"Dear Woody,

...Here's some additional information. The toilet quit working
again last night. Now why in the HELL would a BAD toilet work
for TEN days and then go back to it's old ways? When I called
you about the toilet working again, I mentioned that the only
thing that was different was the 3/4" hose the people who are
renovating the house next door hooked up and left ON for all of
this time. I checked this morning and the faucet was off.
Getting very suspicious, I turned the faucet on and went in and
flushed the toilet. It worked FINE. I went back out and turned
the faucet OFF and relieved the pressure in the hose. The toilet
would not flush correctly.

Now please tell me Mr. Professional Plumber, WHAT KIND OF
*$@^#$%# place haunted? That makes as much sense as turning a light off
and as you walk out of the room it comes on again! By itself!

I'm really scratching my head about this one: Outside faucet ON
and the toilet flushes correctly. Outside faucet OFF and the
toilet won't flush correctly. What next? If you have a stranger
story, I would sure like to hear it sometime but in the
meantime, can you DO something about the water supply not
working properly?


The plumber wrote back "...if you think you're confused, I don't have a clue as to what is going on!"

Incidentally, the toilet has been working fine AS LONG AS WE KEEP THE OUTSIDE FAUCET ON! The plumber came over and checked a bunch of stuff and left mumbling to himself. He told me about a week ago that he has been asking around and no one seems to know what's going on.

A couple of days ago, my wife forgot and turned that particular faucet off and of course, the toilet would not work again. Absolutely amazing! Now what am I going to do when the next door neighbors stop using the faucet? Unless someone can figure out
what to do, I'll be buying a 100' 3/4" hose and hooking it up the same way those people did and leaving the faucet on. Isn't that ridiculous?

How about it folks? Ever heard of anything like this? It's obvious now that there is something wrong with something besides the toilet but what? If you have any ideas at all, PLEASE, let me know.

Musically yours,

Fritz Owens
Fritz Owens Studios, Inc.
4819 Walmsley Ave.
New Orleans, LA 70125
Phone: 504-865-7027

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