Noisy toilet sounds like it wants to leave the station - help!
February 26, 2010 5:26 PM   Subscribe

My toilet has started to make a "chugging" sound, like a choo-choo, shortly after I flush. What to do?

I have a Toto toilet, no idea what model number, that makes a gasping or chugging sound after it flushes. Do I have to tighten some valve or something? It works just fine otherwise, but guests to my apartment have been mildly worried and mentioned it to me. Any amateur plumbers out there?
posted by teedee2000 to Home & Garden (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm guessing we're going to need an audio link to help with this.... seriously.....
posted by HuronBob at 6:10 PM on February 26, 2010

Pull the top of the tank off and watch the works as you flush it. See if the water flow acts unusually or if you can clearly tell where the sound is coming from. The good thing about toilets is that the porcelain parts don't break unless you actually seriously abuse them, and the rest of the parts are made to be fairly easily (and usually inexpensively) replaced. It may very well be nothing serious.

But, until you get it fixed, make sure to yell, "All aboard!" after each flush.
posted by azpenguin at 7:01 PM on February 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: It may be that your vent stack has become blocked. When you flush the toilet, or drain a sink or tub, the downward flow of the water pulls against the water in the trap. The trap, the U-shaped pipe under your sink (or out of view inside the toilet or under the tub/shower) holds a small amount of water in it to keep sewer gasses from backing up into the building. The vent stack goes up through the roof and provides a way for air to get pulled down after the water when flushed or drained. If the vent becomes blocked the flushing/draining will pull against the trap and either cause it to empty out or make a glug-glug noise. Often accompanied by a rotting egg sort of smell (that would be sewer gas). One typical block in vent is caused by birds or other animals dropping materials in it. The fix for it is to poke a long rod down the vent, from up on the roof, to dislodge anything that might be blocking it.

You don't mention the size of your apartment building. If it's a large building you probably aren't the only one having the problem. Check the units above/below you, as the plumbing stuff all usually runs vertically through a building (down what's called the 'wet wall', aka the thing Morpheus and crew crawled up in The Matrix).
posted by wkearney99 at 7:04 PM on February 26, 2010

wkearney99 has your answer. Blocked vents means your sewers will aspirate through the toilet instead of the vent.
posted by polyglot at 7:52 PM on February 26, 2010

We had similar weird toilet sounds and sometimes large air bubbles would come up from the toilet. After reading AskMe I thought it was a blocked vent.

But it turns out the main sewer line from our house was partially blocked. The toilet was on the lowest floor of the house. If there are other apartments below you, they'd probably be raising hell before you in such a situation, but if you are in a bottom apartment you might be facing the same problem.
posted by exogenous at 5:24 AM on February 27, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for all the replies. I'm in a very new, modern building on the fifth floor. I will mention it to the super.
posted by teedee2000 at 8:54 AM on February 28, 2010

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