Weak toilet flush, obstruction in vent?

Discussion in 'Toilet Forum discussions' started by Gabek, Jul 10, 2018.

  1. Gabek

    Gabek New Member

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    Location:
    Denver, CO
    Hello everyone. I'm really close to calling a professional, but I wanted to throw this one out there because it's been really unique. I am but a simple homeowner, but have dealt with a thing or two. This one is weird. Background:
    1) I have a "basement" (bottom floor on try-level) toilet that never really impressed me on flushing power. The flush valve went bad, and so I set out to find a replacement. Turns out, the original is discontinued and the replacement is a Champion 4. It is an American Standard, 1.6 GPF toilet, and from what I can tell, is designed for this type of flush valve. With the new flush valve, I'd get about the same performance if I held the handle. If I pushed the handle and let go quickly like most people would, the water would swirl in the bowl and kinda sorta flush.

    2) To rule out bad or obstructed toilet, I pulled it. Snaked the trap. Set the toilet in the backyard on blocks and flushed it several times with very good results. Concluded that it's still a good toilet. One thing I observed was that the wax ring remained on the floor, rather than being stuck to the bottom of the toilet, and it was sitting crooked on a partial tile. Also, it wasn't centered over the floor drain very well, though it wasn't missing the opening, just way off to one side.

    3) Thought that perhaps the crooked/off-centered wax ring could be the issue. Got a new, extra thick, unreinforced wax ring and carefully reinstalled the toilet. After that, even if I held the handle down, the water flooded the bowl but NEVER flushed. It would slowly leak down as the tank was refilling. Thought perhaps my wax ring slipped and covered the drain, so I pulled the toilet once more only to find that it was still perfectly centered around the trap opening, and stuck to the toilet.

    4) Investigated roof vent, and I it seems like there's something down there, visually, that shouldn't be there. Pulled the garden hose up to the roof, turned on the water, and tried to use the hose to ram whatever it was through, but it was still there. Tried my flimsy drain snake, but all it did was flop around.

    Could a blocked or obstructed vent cause what I'm experiencing? I am just about to call a plumber to snake the vent from the roof. But I'm having a hard time understanding why my toilet flushed much WORSE after I reinstalled it with a new wax ring. Could the old one have not been sealing, and essentially venting a little bit at the floor?

    I just want my toilet to work. =)
     
  2. wjcandee

    wjcandee Wise One

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    Location:
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    Very unlikely it's the vent. Absence of a vent would not likely impair the flush. The general purpose of the vent is to keep one fixture from siphoning the trap in another fixture.

    If the toilet is fine and you reinstalled it properly, then the issue is most likely somewhere in your drain line. Has it ever worked well? How far is it from the drain line to the stack (or to the connection to the main drain)?

    For what it's worth, most professional plumbers put the wax ring on the floor flange and then place the toilet on top of it and smush down, regardless of what some manufacturers' instructions say. (In other words, some manufacturers say to put the ring on the toilet and then place the toilet on the flange; most pros don't do that because it just works more-reliably to do it the way they do it.)
     
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  4. Gabek

    Gabek New Member

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    It's never worked really well, but it always managed a decent flush before I started down this path. I'd say it's probably 10-12 feet to where it connects to the main.

    For what it's worth, another thing I did while the toilet was pulled was dump a couple gallons down the drain. It took it as fast as I could pour it and never sounded like it was collecting or backing up.
     
  5. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    ONly other thing I can think of is to ensure that the wax ring you recently installed didn't shift, and is partially blocking the outlet. Note, if the wax was not deformed, it didn't make a good seal.
     
  6. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

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    pouting water into the opening and flushing the toilet are two COMPLETELY different operation and one working does NOT mean the other will.
     
  7. Gabek

    Gabek New Member

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    That's what I thought too, so I pulled the toilet and there was zero shifting of the wax ring. It remained stuck to the bowl, completely around the trap opening and not obstructing, and there was evidence of deformation around the entire bottom of the ring indicating full contact.

    Understood. Pouring water down is a much more gradual admittance of water, and flushing is a sudden pulse and much quicker admittance. But the way it is flushing now, you would think that a couple gallons would quickly back up to the floor. It's not even partially flushing, it's just flooding the bowl like a wad of newspaper is jammed in there, and I know for a fact that the toilet trap and the drain are clear. I snaked them both this evening, installed a new wax ring, and am getting the same "no flush" situation.
     
  8. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    FWIW, running a toilet auger through a toilet doesn't always prove much...does it back up every time, or only when solids and paper are involved?
     
  9. Gabek

    Gabek New Member

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    Every time. No solid, no paper, just water from the tank. Flushed perfectly out in the yard on blocks.
     
  10. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

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    I am not sure what you are saying. Are you saying that you changed out the flush valve from the white to to the gray flush valve? Those are shown in https://terrylove.com/forums/index.php?threads/champion-accelerator-flush-valve.15349/
    Why did you say the bottom of the ring. Not the top also? There should have been deformation top and bottom.

    If you cannot resolve the problem readily, I suggest a new toilet. Your old toilet may have something stuck in an internal passage or have a buildup that keeps the siphon jet from doing its full job.
     
  11. Gabek

    Gabek New Member

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    Correct, the white one was in there originally and had gone bad. And I only mentioned the bottom of the ring because the ring was still smooshed against the bottom of the bowl making full contact.
     
  12. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    Doesn't correlate if the toilet flushed well into the open that it's the toilet that's the problem. If the drain line has any obstruction, that can make the toilet flush weak.

    On a toilet with a siphon jet, obstructions can result in the flush being weak. Mineral deposits from hard water, or, in rare situations, people have reported that on flush valves that use a small float to help regulate the flush, those have broken off and have been caught inside the toilet and resulted in a weak flush because it restricted that siphon jet water stream. But, if it flushed well with no external restrictions, that's unlikely.

    It really sounds like there's an issue in the drainage system.
     
  13. Gabek

    Gabek New Member

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    Update: Decided to go for a new toilet and see what happens. Much to my surprise, I seem to have a winner now. I will be taking a sledgehammer to the old one and report my findings. Unless a squirrel crawled up the trap and died while I had it set up in the backyard, I'm really not sure what I'm going to find.
     
  14. wjcandee

    wjcandee Wise One

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    Keep us apprised!
     
  15. WorthFlorida

    WorthFlorida Don’t you hate that, take a seat and no paper!

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    If this was a toilet made in the 1990's after the new water standards were put in place, it definitely would have been the toilet. All of them were poorly designed since the manufactures still used the same molds and played around with the tanks to limit the flush to 1.6 gals. As you learned it didn't work.
     
  16. Gabek

    Gabek New Member

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    I believe the manufacture date was 2005 or 2006 that I recall beings stamped somewhere on the toilet, so I think it was part of the "good" generation of water saver toilets.

    I did break it open, and found nothing at all in the trap. No dead squirrel, not even minor buildup. Still very confused. What's more, is even though the new toilet flushes, it's still rather unimpressive, with the occasional flush that barely pulls all the water out of the bowl. I am thinking of buying a cheap camera snake and see if I can get a closer look at what I believe to be a foreign object in the vent. I got nothing else.
     
  17. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

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    It is NOT the vent, unless you ALSO have an obstructed drain line.
     
  18. WorthFlorida

    WorthFlorida Don’t you hate that, take a seat and no paper!

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    A slim possibility. This happened to my father around 1960. A one bathroom house, July 3rd and the toilet is not flushing very well and my fathers family, twenty or more will be at the house for a July 4th party. About ten at night he removed the toilet, carried it outside to figure it out and clean it. Long and behold it’s a metal ant trap stuck right before the flange. It was just over two inches wide to wedged in and it was spinning around. My baby sister threw it in the toilet.

    Fast forward to 2015 and now I had the same problem with a toilet at the church I maintained. A pour flush suddenly. I did about everything and finally I had pulled it out. It was a hockey puck size fresh scent tablet used in the urinals. Someone threw it on the toilet and again just large enough to wedge in before the flange and would spin around where sometimes the flush was good.

    In your case it could be something in the waste line that had closed up the pipe enough to just be aggravating. An earlier post you stated that yourwere going to replace it. Has it been replaced?
     
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