Q&A / 

Toilet Won’t Flush Solids Remain

Quick Column Summary:

  • Toilet will not flush solids
  • Test for clogged drain line
  • Problem might be toilet design
  • Or it might be hard water deposits

Carlton, who live in the epicenter of delicious, juicy peaches in Peachtree City, Georgia, has a nasty problem with his toilet that won't flush properly. Let him describe his distress:

"I am stumped. I previously had a five-gallon toilet in our master bathroom that would not flush and pull the solids down the drain.

It seems as if it would not draw that siphon of water down.  So I purchased a fairly new low-flow American Standard 1.6 GPF toilet. Cleaned it really good, replaced the inside moving parts. I still cannot draw that siphon and get the waste out of the bowl.

I have snaked the toilet line from inside with a 6 foot snake and I also have used a 25-foot snake from my roof down through the vent pipe. I did not feel nor did I pull any debris that may have been blocking the way.

Is there anything else you can think of that I can do to help remedy this issue?"

Carlton, here's how I test to see if toilet drain lines are clogged. I've been a master plumber for 35 years and this method is foolproof.

With the toilet free of solid waste, take a five-gallon bucket of water and pour it into the bowl as fast as possible. If the toilet and drain line are NOT CLOGGED, you'll not be able to make the toilet overflow. The toilet and drain line will take all that water as FAST as you can pour it.

If the water drains FAST and glug, glugs at the end, you know the toilet and drain line are okay. To be absolutely certain there are no blockages down the drain line, pour in THREE buckets one right after another. This means you need three five-gallon buckets standing ready with water.

If all the water disappears and doesn't back up, this means the issue is in the toilet design and/or you have sediment or hard-water deposits BLOCKING the flow of water from the tank to the bowl.

Read this column about clogged toilets and how to deal with mineral deposits. 

Older first generation low-flow toilets from 15-20 years ago had big issues with designs that caused poor flushes. The water from the tank MUST get to the bowl FAST for great flushing.

Carlton's problem was mentioned in the September 5, 2014 AsktheBuilder Weekend Warrior.


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