How do I make my toilet flush completely?
February 9, 2010 8:48 AM   Subscribe

Toilet Filter: After putting down a new floor and re-installing, my toilet won't flush all the way. I've completely rebuilt the guts (new fill mechanism, new flush valve, new flapper), I've maximized the tank fill, plunged and augerred, and even used muriatic acid to clean the jets (though I might not have done it correctly), with no results. (More Inside...)

Some additional info:

- When I pour a couple of gallons of water from a bucket, it flushes without any problem.

- I've replaced my flapper and entire flush valve -- I'm certain that it's operating properly and that the flapper opens fully and stays open for long enough.

- The FluidMaster fill/float mechanism that I bought doesn't fill the tank to the old line -- even when it is adjusted to its maximum setting -- but when I manually keep the float down and allow the tank to fill to just below the overflow pipe, the flush still doesn't execute.

- The muriatic acid fix that I tried came from here, and didn't specify the quantity of acid to use, only the dilution. Other instructions I've found (e.g. here) don't say to dilute the acid at all, and suggest a much more elaborate process of taping off the toilet and letting it work for much longer.

I'm very frustrated, and simply can't afford to pay the several hundred dollars that a plumber wants. Any advice from experience would be appreciated.
posted by milkman to Home & Garden (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Bend the arm with the float on it up so that it fills more.
posted by zeoslap at 8:57 AM on February 9, 2010

Sorry didn't read the bit about it still not flushing - but bending it will at least make it fill to where you need it to be.
posted by zeoslap at 8:58 AM on February 9, 2010

you might consider that the float mechanism might have been made for a taller tank? a cheap fix might be to change the mechanism (IAMAP).
posted by HuronBob at 9:13 AM on February 9, 2010

You state that this happened after you took it up and replaced it after installing a new floor. I'm assuming that you took the tank off and then removed the lower section of the toilet separately. Is it possible that, when you re-installed the tank, the gasket between the tank and the bottom section got pinched or shifted in such a way that it is impeding the flow from the tank? In the alternative, did something get dropped down into the bottom section through the inlet from the tank? If a rag, or screw driver, or a large bolt got into this area, it could impede the flow. The flapper closes when the velocity of the water leaving the tank slows down. If there was something in the way, the water would start out fast but rapidly slow down, closing the flapper too soon. Unfortunately, you will have to remove the tank (and possibly remove and turn the lower section upside down) to find out if something is stuck in there.
posted by Old Geezer at 9:24 AM on February 9, 2010

When my (rental) toilet was replaced with a low-flow one, it contradicted its purpose by then requiring two flushes to operate correctly. Making sure the tank had enough water in it and that the chain to the flapper was short enough so that the tank *emptied* were key. I mean, it's a toilet. Is it possible to get a taller fill mechanism?
posted by rhizome at 9:34 AM on February 9, 2010

Im not a plumber but maybe if its not flushing right it has something to do with the venting ?
posted by SatansCabanaboy at 9:53 AM on February 9, 2010

I used to install tile flooring and it sounds to me like the toilet needs to be taken up and reset. Possibly whomever set it the first time used a extra thick wax ring (I've even seen people use TWO wax rings) when you only needed a thin one. The wax ring forms the seal between the pipe and the bottom of the toilet and if too much wax was used or if the toilet was reset carelessly (or it may just have been an accidental one of them thangs) the wax could have squished improperly and is impeding the flow.
posted by BeerFilter at 10:12 AM on February 9, 2010

Response by poster: Beerfilter: I added a Sioux Chief closet flange to the existing pipe, in addition to a plastic flange extender, which managed to raise the lip of the flange above the level of the new floor. The flange end of the Sioux Chief fit snugly inside the old pipe, but didn't seem to be compressed at all. I did use the #10 wax ring because I was nervous about getting a proper seal, but I'm fairly certain that I put it on right. I'm somewhat loathe to lift the toilet up again and screw with the seal, but I guess I might check if you have some experience with the wax seal obstructing the flush. My one question, though, is whether it would still flush ok with a bucket flush if the wax seal was partially obstructing the pipe?

Old Geezer: As part of the rebuild, I replaced the whole flush mechanisim, so I had the tank off of the stool and I'm pretty sure that it's clear.
posted by milkman at 10:37 AM on February 9, 2010

I think the new mechanism is not compatible with the old toilet.

I haven't messed with the guts of one, but I've replaced a few and I wouldn't think the seal/flange would cause what you are describing. That and I fully understand not wanting to pick it up to check. In which case you'll want to replace the wax seal again by the way.

When my (rental) toilet was replaced...
I first read this as a rented toilet. Ewww.

posted by Big_B at 10:49 AM on February 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Here are the issues as I see them. If you can flush with a couple of buckets of water, you don't have a wax ring problem. When the wax ring protrudes into the drain, the flush is slow, resulting in the toilet filling up with flush water and it emptying more slowly. In your case, you have a sufficient flush by artificial means, but not by the design method. You state that you can fill the tank to the old full line and it doesn't help. Thus, the problem is not with water volume. What is left is water velocity. The only change that has occurred is that you took the two pieces apart and then re-assembled them. I recognize that you have looked down into the drain where the tank empties into the stool, but I think there is something a little farther down where you can't see. Do you have children? Could somebody have dropped a sock down there when the toilet was apart? There are twists and bends and constrictions between the top of the inlet and the jet at the bottom.
posted by Old Geezer at 1:01 PM on February 9, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks folks for all your help. Turns out that, although I had cleaned all of the rim jets both manually and with muriatic acid, there was an obvious clog in the main siphon jet down on the front wall of the hole. Never been so glad to watch a toilet flush.
posted by milkman at 9:03 PM on February 9, 2010

Isn't it amazing how much pleasure can be had in getting a toilet working right?

Another thing that will mess up a toilet: the blue water hockey pucks. They increase the viscocity of the water so that you never get a good flush.
posted by gjc at 5:28 AM on February 10, 2010

So if you let it fill to the old level and it still doesn't flush then your reinstallation of the toilet over the new floor and flange seems like it might not be correct. Unless, of course, something got inside the toilet and is blocking the flow of water down from the tank and around the bowl. Does the water swirling down into the bowl look like the correct amount? If debris got in there then acid would probably not clear it. Your only choice would be to pull the toilet and use a hose to thoroughly backflush from the bowl to the tank. You're probably going to have the pull the toilet up anyway to check the wax ring and flange connections.

There's indeed something to be said for a reliably working toilet. I ripped out two bargain models the previous owner installed because it was literally a crapshoot each time we flushed as to whether the plunger would be needed. I replaced them with some new Kohler units and wow do they work.

The generic valve mechanisms are often junk. Take your old one to a local plumbing supply place and get one designed for your toilet make/model.
posted by wkearney99 at 8:38 AM on February 10, 2010

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