Question about toilet flushing

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dadohead

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First time here. I'm a homeowner and I'm stumped. And to be perfectly honest, while I understand most plumbing, a toilet's operation has always seemed like black magic to me. Here's my sad tale:

My bathroom has a Toto toilet. The flushing has degraded over time. I've changed the flapper. I've snaked it numerous times with a 6' closet auger. There's nothing in the pipe to impede drainage. When flushing, you have to hold the handle down for the entire flush and even then it will only fully flush about 50% of the time, requiring a second and sometimes third flush to have clean water in the bowl. If there is solid matter in the bowl, the odds of a successful and complete first flush are substantially higher. If the contents of the bowl is just liquid and some TP, the odds of a successful flush go WAY down. A bowl with just clean water is least reliable. In any case, there doesn't seem to be adequate suction and there's no slurping noise when the bowl empties to indicate suction. The bowl empties into a combination flange and 90 degree turn ( it's all cast iron and remember an old time plumber calling the fitting of the flange and turn "a shoe" because it kind of looks like one) and runs about 2 feet to a 4" standing pipe. Above the 4" tee where it joins is a vertical 4" pipe entering an interior wall, which I'm assuming is the vent stack. I'm pretty sure with the snake I'm getting to or very close to the standing pipe. There's a vanity about 3' from the toilet that drains fine. Not super, but fine. When the toilet "flushes," the water from the inlets along the rim of the bowl come dangerously close to overrunning the rim, mostly because the water level in the bowl is rising. There's another Toto toilet in another building upstream on the same lateral that has a nice, powerful flush, so it's not the lateral. I don't think.

Here's the kicker: if I insert the auger 3' into the pipe and flush, it flushes as expected; quickly, reliably, and with only holding down the lever for a second. There's a moderately satisfying slurping noise, nothing special, but it's a lot closer to what I would expect. BUT there is a gurgling noise from the vanity that doesn't happen when the snake is removed. There's no leakage around the floor flange from underneath. If the snake is less than 3', the same degraded flushing pertains, but three feet is the magic number.

The only thing I can think of is that the vent stack is clogged somewhere. The toilet never overflows, and I can take a 3 gallon pot of boiling water and pour it directly in the bowl, the water drains perfectly, but again, without the gurgling sound at the end I would expect. I tried blocking the overflow and drain in the vanity sink, to see if they were sucking in air, but that didn't seem to be the problem. Pretty sure I'm going to turn this over to a plumber, but I was wondering if the brain trust here had any ideas so I could help guide the plumber and not pay for a new flapper and snakeage as the plumber eliminates the obvious.

Thanks for reading all this. Any insight VERY much appreciated.
 

WorthFlorida

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The toilet has a drain issue not a flush issue. There is a blockage and the snake is straightening out the object. Any kids in the house? A small toy could be stuck in the trapway or a little further down and anything else like a comb fell in unnoticed. The blockage could be past the toilet at an elbow. I think you'll need to remove the bowl from the floor and inspect it or hire someone with a camera.
 
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Terry

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Have you checked the siphon jet at the bottom of the bowl? Sometimes if there is matter there, the siphon can't start. I use a glove on my hand to check that one, reaching in and checking with my finger if the jetway is open and clear.

And there could also be something or things in the trapway. I have pulled out tennis balls, small cars, Q-Tips, makeup pens.
 

dadohead

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Sorry it took so long to respond. I pulled the toilet up and used a snake like dental floss in the inlet and outlet of the bowl, and vigorously snaked the short run from the flange to the larger drain piping. I was hoping I would find a visible and identifiable culprit, but none appeared. I then cleaned everything and reassembled with a newer, taller wax ring. After adjusting the chain on the flapper so it would stay open a little longer, the toilet flushes okay, but not as robustly as I would like or expect. This will work for the time being, however, until I can get a real plumber to diagnose the problem. Thanks to all who responded.
 
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