How to fix a toilet that's not completely flushing
Stop Draining Dollars
Low Flush? Or No Flush?
I have a rather new home and we have three 13.5-liter toilets. I have to flush them twice every time. I was told this is normal with a low flush toilet, but I have been doing a little research and have discovered that this isn't even a low flush toilet. Is that correct? Also is it normal to have to flush twice every time with a toilet this size? And, what can I do to get the job done on just one flush? Thank you so much.
Hold Down the Handle
I discovered that if I hold down the handle of my low-flush toilet for a count of six to eight, the entire tank empties and the toilet flushes more completely than if I just press the handle down and release it immediately.
Get It Done the First Time
For toilets that don't "get it all out" when flushed, I have a couple of tried-and-true suggestions.
First, you have been told correctly. A 13.5-liter toilet is not a low-flush toilet, but rather a "normal" one. We currently have both kinds in our home. Our "normal" toilet was acting up as well. Stuff just wasn't getting down and always required either two flushes or a good plunging. We attributed the cause to the "old house," "low water pressure," etc. Fortunately, the inside apparatus connecting the flush handle to the other parts broke. For around $8, I purchased an entire new set of inner parts. The instructions to install them were very clear and it was simple to do. I was amazed at the results. Suddenly, it had loads of water pressure and clean single flushes every time.
Our low-flow toilet also has "flush" problems. Our normal response to this is to hold the handle down longer for a heavy load. That sends more water through and is similar to two flushes, except by holding the handle down, you have a more constant flow of water that seems to work better. Periodically, I need to clean the toilet with a powerful product called Sizzle, which I get at a local plumbing goods store. Sizzle is added to the water tank and cleans out the water inputs that sometimes get clogged up with calcium deposits.
That same toilet once started leaking around the base where it meets the floor. I removed the toilet from its "mount" and found one of those newer toilet rings that features both wax and rubber. The rubber piece was heavily caked with sediment from water and probably other "stuff" as well. Our local DIY plumbing store told me that was a common problem with the "new-fangled" seals and they recommended we use the plain old cheap wax ring.
There is loads of free information on toilets at toiletology.com/index.shtml. Happy flushing!
Start at the Flush Valve
Most of the "newer" toilets are considered low-flow toilets. They are designed to use less water per flush in an effort to save our environment. However, these toilets lack the necessary suction to properly clear the bowl on the first flush and may require a second and sometimes a third flush.
Try looking in the tank and see if the newer type of flush valve has been installed. If so, those types of flush valves can be raised to a different height, while still attached to the tank. Raising the height will increase the amount of water in the tank. This will create more suction while flushing. This might cure the multiple flush problem.
If the flush valve can't be adjusted, then you might be able to retrofit your toilets with the latest design in flush valves. These new valves sit in your tank and actually force the water out when you flush. This creates the necessary suction in order to clear the bowl the first time.
If that can't be done, and you don't want the expense of replacing all of your toilets, then you'll have to get used to flushing them multiple times.
Clean Away Mineral Deposits
We had a toilet that we installed new about 15 years ago. Its flushing ability grew gradually worse over the years. We have well water that is very hard and I came to realize that the holes under the rim of the toilet were clogged or partially clogged with mineral deposits, thereby restricting the flow of water into the bowl during the flush and preventing a proper flush. I purchased a product from our local home improvement store that was a "professional strength" cleaner that was "guaranteed to improve flushing action." The product said it contained Hydrochloric Acid (so make sure you properly ventilate the room during its use!) Because of the severity of the clog, I had to empty the tank and then pour one cup of this stuff under the flap. After waiting a certain amount of time, I flushed. The toilet's flush improved immediately but did require a second application to make it work properly.
Check for Blockage in Vent Pipe
Go on the roof and check the vent pipe for each toilet. It sounds like a blockage created by birds or squirrels.
Replace Flapper Valve
I recently had to replace the flapper valve in my toilet. For $8, I found a flapper valve assembly with a cup attached. The cup fills up and empties more slowly than the tank. It keeps the flapper valve open longer, which gives a better flush. It's also adjustable so you don't use any more water than you need. It was easy to install. It cost a little more than just a flapper valve, but it works great.
Happy with Her Low-Flow Toilet
The house that we moved into this summer still had the original 1991 toilets, so we had the same problem. The toilets were not the newer low-flush toilets, and most of the time, we had to flush them more than once.
I searched on the web and found that toilet technology has greatly improved. In developing the 1.6Gpf/6.0Lpf low-flow toilets, toilet designers had to reinvent how a toilet works with less water.
I found many excellent ratings for the Toto Drake toilet. We replaced all three of ours with Totos, and they haven't clogged yet. Since we are using half the water per flush and half the flushes, it feels great to be saving water. Another added bonus is that because the water flush is stronger and waste doesn't get left behind, my toilet bowls stay cleaner longer.
Claire in Wildwood, MO
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