where's the flush?
February 20, 2011 10:30 PM   Subscribe

You are not my plumber: toilet water supply goes real slow

I have a bladder tank well-system that supplies my house. I have good water pressure throughout the rest of the house and the shower right next to the toilet works fine. The toilet gets no water on its own. I have to turn the water supply off, wait a few seconds, turn it back on and I get a strong flow of water and it fills up. I flush, no water comes, I have to repeat the process with turning off and on. If I leave it for an hour or so it usually gets about half full and I can flush but it is a really small trickle. The toilet has worked fine for 4yrs up until now.

So does anyone have an idea of what could cause this? I have replaced toilets before and never seen anything quite like this.
posted by M Edward to Home & Garden (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Do you have a conventional gravity flow toilet or is it jet assist (when you take the top off the toilet tank is it all open or is there a little pressure vessel in there)? Many jet assist toilets have pressure tanks built in and it's possible either your bladder tank needs it's pressure adjusted or the set points on your jet pump need adjusting to overcome the pressure in your toilet.
posted by Mitheral at 1:26 AM on February 21, 2011

Sounds to me like you have some sand or grit in the refill valve. Happens a lot on well water. This is consistent with your symptoms--turning the water on and off disturbs the sand temporarily, but then it settles in again and cuts off the flow. Either replace the valve (that free-standing thing in the toilet tank that water shoots out of), or some of them can be disassembled and cleaned.
posted by bricoleur at 3:40 AM on February 21, 2011

Yea, either the line is blocked or the valve's got crud in it, or possibly the valve has failed all together and when you think you're turning it to open it you're not.
posted by TomMelee at 7:00 AM on February 21, 2011

Yes, there is a hunk of crud in the fill valve or the shutoff valve. What happens is that the water pressure pushes the crud against an orifice somewhere, stopping the flow. When you turn the pressure off, the crud floats down and stops blocking for a while.

If it is a toilet with a Fluidmaster kind of fill valve (grey shaft where the float surrounds the shaft and there is a tiny arm coming out the top attached by a rod to the float) , what you do is turn the water off, open the tank, take off the cover of the fill valve, then push down and rotate the disk thing attached to the fill switch. It will unlock and you can remove it. Inside, there will be a rubber disk. Remove it and clean it. Then, take a cup or bucket (small enough to fit inside the toilet tank) and hold it upside down over the now open hole in the fill valve. Turn on the shut off while holding the bucket or cup. Water should shoot out of the fill valve violently, go into the cup and then just drip down into the tank. Turn it on and off a couple times and reassemble. Should be fixed now.

If it is not, or if the water did not shoot out very much at all, the clog is further down the line. Probably in the shut-off valve.
posted by gjc at 7:26 AM on February 21, 2011

lots of grit and debris caught past the valve.

thanks guys
posted by M Edward at 7:11 PM on February 21, 2011

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