When you have a toilet not flushing, your first impulse is likely to be to reach for a plunger. We know Houston homeowners take a certain pride in doing their own home repairs. However, there are several things besides a simple clog that can cause a toilet to malfunction. Understanding these different causes will help you determine when trouble with your toilet is an at-home fix or an issue that needs to be handled by a professional plumber.
When flushing your toilet, if the water level rises in the bowl and then drains slower than normal or doesn’t drain at all, you may have a clogged sewer line.
A plunger will usually dislodge a clog that is closer to the toilet. For a clog that is deeper in the plumbing system, you can try using a toilet or closet auger to remove blockage. If you’re unable to remove it, the clog may be even deeper in the plumbing system and require more advanced tools and help from a plumbing repair specialist.
If you notice that your toilet gurgles or bubbles during a flush, or that the flush is weak and leaves materials behind in the bowl, you may have a clogged vent line.
Each appliance in your home that is connected to a pipe drains into the sewer thanks to a separate vertical vent line that allows air to enter the pipe. These are the pipes you typically see sticking through the roof of your home. The vent to each pipe must be open and clear of clogs in order to allow air to come in behind the water and push along waste as it flows through the pipes.
When air isn’t flowing freely through the vent, an upward vacuum is created by the water flow and pulls the water in the opposite direction. This vacuum can slow down the flow of waste and cause it to settle in a line and clog it. The reasons for a clogged vent line include:
Whatever is obstructing the vent pipe needs to be removed. One way to do this is to have a plumbing professional take a garden hose up onto the roof, and run water down into the vent pipe. The water will force the obstruction down into the sewer pipe and clear the vent.
Your toilet is a working machine with several moving parts that help it function correctly. Along with a simple pull of a lever, a lot goes on inside the toilet tank that helps it to function properly.
When you flush your toilet, if the flush seems very weak or it flushes well every other flush this could be an indication of incorrect settings or worn parts.
Incorrect settings could mean the water level in the tank is not set correctly. Your toilet water level should be about 1/2 inch below the top of the overflow tube. The chain on the flapper should only have one or two links of slack and the black refill tube from the fill valve should be flowing water into the overflow tube during the refill.
Parts to your toilet that get used a lot, such as the flapper, fill valve, trip lever or flush valve, can wear out and cause problems with flushing. If you are experiencing a flushing issue, do a visual check of the integrity of these parts and then contact a professional for repairs.
While many of these issues may seem simple to fix, we recommend you always contact a professional to make sure even a minor plumbing problem isn’t symptomatic of a more serious issue and is repaired correctly and with the proper tools. If you’re experiencing toilet trouble or any other type of home plumbing issue, schedule an appointment with Hartford today.