Toilet issues... using a closet auger

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by chris fox, Aug 11, 2012.

  1. chris fox

    chris fox Member

    May 9, 2007
    near phoenix AZ
    I have a toilet that is flushing slow- no gurgle so not solid waste flushing down. It's a toilet the kids use and suspect a toy is lodged somewhere. Plunger just works enough to make it slow working again if one of the kids does their business in it.
    I purchased a tool that supposed to unclog - about 4-5 long with rubber sleeve and crank handle. This didn't fix the Robles completely either.
    My guess a toy is lodged past the toilet trap slowely working its way past and further in the house sewer line. Not sure what to do next besides call a plumber? Pull the toilet? Not a 100% sure what to o once I take the clean out cap off, run the crank tool down it?

  2. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Aug 17, 2004
    Bothell, Washington
    The problem is most likely still in the trapway of the bowl. Sometimes you need to pull the bowl and work from the other side.
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  4. nestork

    nestork Janitorial Technician

    Aug 5, 2012
    Before you take the toilet off, try to vaccuum out the obstruction with a wet/dry vaccuum cleaner if you have one. Stick the 2 1/2 inch hose of the wet/dry vaccuum directly over the large hole at the bottom of the bowl and use both hands to seal off air flow around the suction hose as best you can. If it's something that'll catch the wind, that may be enough to pop it loose and pull it out of the bowl.

    (I have a carpet extractor with two Ametek three stage vaccuum motors in it, and I've used it to suck the water out of bathroom and kitchen sink p-traps, thereby retrieving earrings, false eyelashes and even the cap from a tooth for tenants.)

    If that doesn't work, then the next step would be to take the bowl off as Terry says.

    Here are some tips I've learned about removing toilets and putting them back in:

    1. Often DIY articles will tell you to take the tank and bowl off together. I find that so strange. Yes, you can take the tank and bowl off together and put them back on together, but you have far more control if the thing you're lifting and moving is lighter in weight. So, for the extra $2 a sponge gasket is gonna cost, I'd take the tank off the bowl first, and then take the bowl off the floor. Always use a new sponge gasket between the toilet and the tank when putting the toilet tank back onto the bowl.

    2. Getting an obstruction out of a toilet bowl is like profesional wrestling... really, there aren't any rules. Anything that works, counts. If you have a laundry room in your basement, I'd put a coupla boards across your laundry room sink, turn the bowl over and put it on those boards, then try to blow the obstruction out by sticking a garden hose into the upturned bottom of the toilet bowl and sealing around that hole as best you can with your hands. Hopefully the water pressure will pop the obstruction loose.

    What's also worked for me is to take a long piece of twine (about 10 feet or so) and tie something like a steel nut to each end of the twine. Drop the nuts into the bottom of the upturned bowl and rotate the bowl so the nuts come out at the other end. Then pull on the twine. Hopefully the two weights went on opposite sides of the obstruction, and the twine will pull on the obstruction to pop it loose.

    3. It's a real good idea to clean any wax off around the base of the floor flange and on the flooring immediately surrounding the floor flange. Then, caulk between the floor flange and the bathroom flooring. That way, if the wax seal leaks, the water will leak out from under the toilet on top of the flooring. Otherwise you run the risk of it leaking under the flooring and damaging the floor. If you ever see a brownish purplish stain on sheet vinyl around a toilet, that's caused by water getting under the sheet vinyl and mildew growing there and showing through the sheet vinyl to leave that brownish purplish stain. One caulk that sticks well to both ABS, PVC and sheet vinyl is Kop-R-Lastic, which you can probably order through the places listed under Caulk & Caulking Supplies in your yellow pages.

    4. Never ever never use anything but solid brass or stainless steel fasteners when dealing with a toilet. When I buy tank-to-bowl bolts, I test them with a magnet to ensure they're solid brass and not just brass coated steel. Yes, some companies actually sell brass coated steel bolts and brass coated steel nuts that will rust and require that you cut through the bolts with a hack saw to remove the tank from the bowl. If you can order them from the places listed under "Fasteners" in your yellow pages directory, order two 5/16 coarse thread solid brass "jam nuts", like this:


    and two 5/16 solid brass flat washers. A 5/16 inch jam nut is just like an ordinary nut, but it's half the normal thickness of a 5/16 inch nut. By using a jam nut and washer on the underside of the toilet tank, you can tighten up the rubber gaskets under the heads of the tank-to-bowl bolts inside the tank, thereby allowing you to take the tank off the bowl even if there's still water in the tank. That allows you to keep the floor dry and pour the water still in the tank into the sink or bathtub to dispose of it.

    5. It's a good idea to use 5/16 inch "speed nuts" like these:


    to hold the flange-to-bowl bolts vertical when you're trying to set the toilet bowl back in place. If the flange-to-bowl bolts are loose, they'll be flopping around all over the place, and you'll have trouble getting the bowl back on over those bolts. These can be made of ordinary steel cuz it doesn't matter if they rust. (you can always just cut them off with a pair of side cutters and put new ones on)

    6. Always buy the wax seals with the plastic flanges in them, like this:


    That plastic flange prevents the wax from squishing inwards when you tighten the bowl down, thereby potentially getting big blobs of wax in your drain piping that won't do any good.

    7. When I put a toilet bowl back on I remove the toilet seat from it first. Then I use a spirit level to ensure the bowl remains close to level in both principle directions as I tighten the front bolts and flange-to-bowl bolts down. That ensures a uniform squish of the wax seal so that I don't get wax oozing out one side of the base of the bowl. Lotsa people would consider this unnecessary, or at best, "perfectionism", but that's how I like to do it to make sure I get the best seal possible from that wax.

    And finally, #8:
    You can remove any marks that tool made in your toilet bowl with hydrochloric acid. Any and every place listed under "Janitorial Equipment & Supplies" in your yellow pages phone directory will sell toilet bowl cleaners, and they'll be either phosphoric acid or hydrochloric acid based. The hydrochloric acid based toilet bowl cleaners are much more aggressive and will remove marks left on porcelain from metals like steel and aluminum. Use a Q-tip dipped in that acid to dissolve the marks in your toilet bowl. I expect muriatic acid from any hardware store would also work, but it'd be 26 percent HCl compared to about 12 percent for a toilet bowl cleaner, so you need to be more careful using muriatic acid.
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2012
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