By: Aaron Wade
Trying to fix a slow flush toilet isn't a fun job but it's something we may all have to deal with at one time or another. Fortunately it can be easy if you have the right tools. With a few items from the local hardware store you can save time and money by troubleshooting the problem yourself before calling a plumber.
Tools and Materials Needed:
- Toilet bowl brush
- Flange Plunger
- Plumbers snake
Before Getting Started
Before you get to work fixing your slow flush toilet it's a good idea to put something down around the toilet in case you have any water splash out on the ground. Using newspaper is a good idea, as you can just throw it away when you're done.
What Not To Do
Don't use chemicals such as Drano or other pipe cleaners on a slow flush toilet. The chemicals used in these types of products can cause the ceramic in your toilet bowl to crack, leading to an even bigger problem! Also the trap configuration in toilets can prevent the clog remover from reaching the obstruction, rendering it ineffective. If you use drain cleaner in your toilet you may crack the ceramic and will literally be flushing money down the drain. The 3 steps below are the safest and most effective at fixing a slow flush toilet.
Step 1 – Clean The Bowl
The first thing to do is make sure water is flowing into the bowl properly when you flush. To do this take your toilet bowl brush and clean the bowl thoroughly, paying special attention to the small holes under the rim where the water flows from the tank to the bowl. Over time mineral deposits can build up over the holes causing the water to flow into the bowl slower than normal. If water is flowing into the bowl correctly but won't flush out at the correct speed move on to step 2.
Step 2 – Plunge The Bowl
Before using a plunger on your toilet make sure you have the correct type of plunger. Plungers come in two types, a “cup” plunger and a “flange” plunger. A cup plunger is meant to seal against flat surfaces such as sinks and bathtubs. The special shape of a toilet requires a special plunger called a “flange” or “ball” plunger. These plungers have a specially shaped bottom designed to seal tight against the toilet bowl and maintain the vacuum and pressure needed to effectively plunge the toilet.
Create a seal against the bottom of the toilet bowl with the plunger and use a push/pull motion to send air into the drain. The air pressure should free the obstruction and the water will drain with ease. If the drain is still clogged the obstruction may be too large to fix with just a plunger. In that case move on to step 3.
Step 3 – Use a Snake
A plumbers snake, sometimes called an “auger”, is a specially designed wire coil that will “snake” down into the toilet bowl and manually break up an obstruction that it can reach. These tools come with a plastic piece around the wire coil to avoid scratching the ceramic in your toilet bowl. The goal is to use the wire coil as a corkscrew to manually break up the obstruction. Place the wire coil down into your toilet drain and push it as far as it will go. Once you've pushed it as far as it will go turn the handle on the snake clockwise to send it into the drain further. After you've sent the snake down into the drain as far as it will go pull it straight out. If the wire coil was able to corkscrew through the obstruction, you will pull the obstruction out with the snake.
If your toilet is still flushing slowly or not at all after trying the methods above you may have an obstruction in your main sewer line and will need to call a plumber. One way to tell if the main sewer line is clogged is to observe the other drains in the house. If you have water coming back up into the sinks or bathtub there's a good chance the main sewer line is clogged and you'll need to call a plumber.