The other day, I noticed something odd about our guest bathroom toilet. It was slow. It’s really slow. The swirling water that helps to flush the toilets is also weak. Let’s discuss what could be happening and how we can fix it. First, let’s review the basics.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about fixing your slow draining toilet.
- 1 What is the Work of a Toilet?
- 2 What causes a Slow Flushing Toilet?
- 2.1 Clogging issues that cause a Slow Flushing Toilet
- 2.2 Toilet Slow Flushing Caused by Part Failures
- 2.3 Water Issues That Cause A Slow Flushing Toilet
What is the Work of a Toilet?
It is quite simple: gravity. This is why a toilet is built with gravity in mind. Water flows downward due to gravity. Let me continue.
It would be helpful to understand the workings of a toilet before you attempt to fix it.
The Toilet Tank
Push down on the flushing handle and the lift chain will lift the toilet flapper off of the opening at the flush valve. This allows water to flow into the bowl for flushing.
The lift chain should be about 1/2 inch loose when the toilet isn’t in use. It should not be too loose or it will not lift the flapper fully and water will flow slowly from the tank to the bowl.
A low water level in the toilet tank can cause slow flushes. A toilet tank’s water level should be at least 1/2-1 inch below its overflow tube.
The big tube at the bottom of the tank is called the overflow tube. This tube sends any excess water from the tank to the bowl in order to prevent the toilet from overflowing.
The Toilet Bowl
The siphon jet, which directs water to the opening of the toilet and the rim holes under the bowl’s rim, allows water to enter the bowl. The water that comes out of the rim holes is mainly used to rinse the bowl.
If you live in an area that has hard water, calcium deposits and particularly calcium can build up around the rim holes. This will cause water to stop flowing to the bowl and create a slow flushing toilet.
To make your toilet flush quickly, you need to pour large quantities of water into the toilet bowl. This is what causes the siphon/sucking effect.
The waste and flush water are drawn at the trap and then flow to the sewer line via the drainpipe. You will experience slow flushing toilets if the toilet trap is blocked or the toilet drain is partially blocked.
Ventilation allows sewer gases to flow through your toilet and out the roof. The sewer gases can build up pressure inside the vent stuck if it is blocked. Because of the resistance, the waste can’t flow freely out of the bowl.
To sum it up, your flushed toilet water begins at its highest point (your toilet tank) and keeps flowing downhill until it reaches the city’s sewer line will eventually be processed. That’s gravity for you!
What causes a Slow Flushing Toilet?
There are many reasons your toilet flushes slowly. Generally, however, it is one of these three causes:
- Clogging is the most frequent problem.
- Part failures are the second most frequent reason.
- Water issues (yes, they can also be problems)
Let’s take a closer look at each one.
Clogging issues that cause a Slow Flushing Toilet
Clogs or blockages are the main reason your toilet flushes slow. Each of the clogs below can be easily identified and fixed.
Clogged S trap
Toilets can clog every day. Most of the time, something lodges in the trap and can’t pass by itself. It can be quite mind-boggling to see the things people recover. Things that get trapped include napkins, sanitary products, washcloths, and toys.
Although unclogging a toilet is easy, there are instances when it is more challenging to get the object out or pass. It doesn’t mean that you have to call a plumber every time the problem occurs. However, you will need to be able to clear the drain without damaging the toilet.
The S trap is the S-shaped pipe attached below and to the left side of the toilet bowl. It is a curved pipe that traps waste and debris, but not too much paper, and makes it difficult for them to get out. If you don’t get rid of it, your toilet will either be slow-flushing or no-flush.
How can I clear a blocked S trap?
1. Plunge the toilet
A common plunger is all that’s needed most of the time. How To use a plunger? First, plunge the toilet with the rubber flange pulled out to get a better seal. Push in and out vigorously, keeping enough water in the bowl to cover the plunger. The drain should now be unclogged. One caution: If you plunge too hard, you could damage your pipes. You should not overdo the plunger. As always, towels are handy to wipe up any water that splashes out.
2. The toilet Snake
Toilet snakes, also known as toilet augers, unclog toilets by reducing the clog into smaller pieces that will flow down the drain or pulling it out.
The auger can pull out a towel or soap bar that is clogging your toilet and will break down the soap. An ordinary auger can reach 3 to 6 feet in length. If the clog is deeper than that, you can hire a motorized auger or call a plumber.
You should be careful not to scratch the toilet bowl when using the toilet auger. Pull the handle of the toilet auger gently towards the outlet. Protect the head at all costs.
Too much or too little toilet paper
Clogged toilets are most often caused by using more paper than your toilet system can handle. It happens all the time, particularly in older homes. It can be a temporary issue, but it is more common to have been there for many years.
Although paper is meant to dissolve in water it can leave behind a sticky, gummy residue. There are two types of toilet paper: one that is thicker and one that is thinner. This paper is not only more comfortable, but it can also make it more difficult to flush your system. This is especially true for pipes and sewer lines that have problems (like cracks, misalignments or corroded interior surfaces that “catch” the debris passing by). This is what you should do.
How can I get rid of too much toilet paper from my bathroom?
Simply place the plunger on the drain and pump it while sealing the opening. Repeat this several times until you are satisfied with the solution. You can test this by flushing the toilet.
If that fails, call your plumber. If the problem is caused by a toilet paper clog or other related issues, they will be able to diagnose it and fix it.
Pro Tip: One of our drain experts conducted his own experiment with toilet paper. He found that Scott toilet paper disintegrated the most quickly and thoroughly of all the major brands. If you prefer a different brand of paper, choose one that is 1-ply, this has less paper.
Toilet Slow Flushing Caused by Part Failures
Damaged fill valve
The fill valve does exactly what it sounds like. It refills the tank when it is flushed. You’ll notice that your water is still running after the tank has been flushed. It’s not just annoying but it can also be costly as you pay more for your toilet water. The fill valve may be worn or damaged.
This diagram showing the inside of a toilet tank shows the parts — in particular, the fill valve and flapper — that cause a slow flushing toilet.
How can I replace a fill valve?
This is not as simple as using a plunger.
First, turn off the water supply for your toilet tank.
Open the tank, and flush the water out.
Now, disconnect the water supply hose from the fill valve.
Take the valve off its base and replace it with the new fill valve.
Connect the water hose to your valve.
You should be all set. We mean it literally.
Blocked jet holes
This is why my toilet flushes slow. Fast-moving streams of water (or jets), fill your toilet bowl when you flush. These water streams come from tiny jet holes, also known as rim holes or inlet holes, located under the toilet’s rim. If not cleaned thoroughly and routinely, over time they’ll clog with hard water minerals (caused usually by using hard water) or bacteria. You’ll have a slow-flushing toilet in either case.
Clear all mineral buildup along the toilet rim: If your tank is full of water and your drain is free and clear, then the problem may be with your jet holes along the rim of your toilet. Minerals can gather around these jet holes with every flush, causing the pressure to get less and less powerful.
How can I fix blocked jet holes?
First, use a small mirror to look for jets. Black spots or dark orange colors are signs of bacterial growth. Mineral deposits will appear scaly or lighter.
A bleach solution that contains 1 part bleach per 10 parts water is required to prevent bacterial growth. Pour it into the overflow tube of your toilet tank. Let it sit for about 10 minutes before flushing. Use your mirror and a piece of wire to clean the holes. Next, clean the underside with a toilet cleaner. Continue this process until there are no more jet holes.
The process for mineral deposits is slightly different. Use vinegar and not bleach. Heat 12 ounces of vinegar to 120 degrees. Place into an overflow tube. You should wait at least an hour before flushing. The longer you wait the better. Use your wire and mirror to clean each jet. Repeat the process as necessary. Use a toilet cleaner to clean the underside.
You might have an older toilet that has worn parts and seals. Older toilets and low-flush toilets may not have the right juice to flush well.
How can I fix a toilet that is old and causes a slow flushing toilet?
It is best to replace your toilet with a modern, high-efficiency one. Toilets typically cost between $100 and $500. The standard model will be under 14 inches tall at the seat. They are available in both round and oval forms.
Water Issues That Cause A Slow Flushing Toilet
Adjust the toilet tank water level
Read more below to find out how to treat these three main causes of a slow flushing toilet and get your toilet flushing freely.
Check the water level: This cause by far the most common reason for slow flushing toilets. If the water in the tank is not up to the recommended level, you may have poor flushing power. This is because the increased water level gives a more intense flushing force; that force is required for the bowl to be completely emptied. If you have a decreased water level in the tank, your bowl may not be getting cleared.
This is a simple one to identify. To check if your toilet flushes too slowly, take off the tank lid. See the diagram above.
Your toilet tank will either have a float ball or a float cup. The float ball is connected to the toilet fill valve through an arm float, while the float cup is mounted alongside the body of the valve.
The fill valve is also connected to the water supply line from the bottom of the tank and is responsible for filling the tank after each flush. A toilet float controls the opening and closing of the valve and therefore the water level in the toilet tank.
When your toilet float is not properly adjusted, the water in the tank will be below the recommended level. This will as a result lead to a weak and slow draining toilet.
The water level should not be more than 1/2 inch below the top edge of the overflow tube. If the water level is below the top of the overflow tube, it means that there isn’t enough water to provide the flushing power you require. It is simple to fix.
Hard water contains a lot of dissolved minerals (like calcium or magnesium) as we mentioned earlier in this article. After you wash your dishes, hard water is easy to see. It is the soap scum that has accumulated on your glasses. These minerals can build up in your pipes and cause water to flow more slowly.
How can I get rid of hard water buildup in my toilet pipes?
Do-it-yourself cleaning is the same as how to clean your toilet’s jet holes (see below), but there are some key differences. One quart of white vinegar. Remove the tank lid so you can get a good look inside. Add the vinegar to your toilet tank’s overflow tube. It may take up to a night for the vinegar and calcified minerals to dissolve.
Try flushing the toilet a few more times the next day to check if that helps. If it doesn’t, you may need to have a plumber remove the buildup. Or you might need to invest in the installation of a water softener, which prevents the build-up of minerals on the inside of pipes in your toilet, hot water heaters, and other fixtures.