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A more serious question...what's wrong with my commode?(12 posts)

A more serious question...what's wrong with my commode?Kristin
Dec 12, 2002 11:55 AM
Seriously. Its busted. Its hard to get a good syphon going. Don't laugh. I'm not lying. And you could earn some money!! Honest. (Well, if you have paypal.)

Okay, all joking aside. My toilet (charmingly dubbed Beamis the Butthead) has fallen victim to a crazed appliance murderer whose name is Contractor. I got a restraining order against Contractor, so he can't hurt any more of my stuff; butt for Beamis its too late. If you know how to fix my toilet and subsequently save me $75; I will pay you $20 paypal money. You can stick this in your discretionary fund, as it is not taxable. I will select the response below that helped me the most to resolve the problem.

The problem: The toilet will flush, but it doesn't always syphon. (If you don't know what this means, you don't know much about toilets.) When I push the handle, the flush valve lifts normally, but the water empties too slowly. And if I release the handle too soon the valve falls back down and stops the flush cycle. The result is recycled toilet bowl water...not clean water. If I hold then handle down longer, the tank still doesn't empty fast enough for a syphon to occur. If I were to hold the handle down until the tank fully emptied, the toilet would overflow. Partially flushed toilet water is just nasty. I also inadvertently discovered that if I put 35 lbs of weight on the top of the tank, water leaks out of the tank onto the floor. While I can't be sure, I don't think it should do this. I don't go around sitting on peoples toilet tanks. Perhaps I'll try it at a friends house tonight. ;)
what about your neighbors?mohair_chair
Dec 12, 2002 12:44 PM
The siphon thing sounds like something is clogged, unless it's just a cheap toilet. Do your neighbors have the same problem? It might be time to meet them. Maybe you can use some compressed air or high pressure water to clean it out. If not, you'll probably have to replace it. A good Kohler will run about $75 + wax gasket/seal. You can install it yourself.

The part about letting the handle go stopping the flush sounds like another unrelated problem, although it's probably related somehow. Toilets should be fire and forget. The tank empties on flush, the floater drops, the tank refills, the floater rises and stops the refill. The handle just lifts the flapper and starts the process.

The tank leaking with 35 lbs of pressure (how did you figure that out?) is probably an easy fix, unless it is a cheap toilet (which it sounds like it is). You should be able to tighten the tank to the base by tightening the nuts that hold it on. The tank is usually separate and there is a seal between it and the base where they connect. If not tight enough, it's possible to get it leaning and open up a gap that water can leak through.
Here in the West, we call that a toilet, ma'am....cory
Dec 12, 2002 12:57 PM
You mean the water's not running out of the bowl, right, not that it isn't running from the tank INTO the bowl?
I'm not a plumber (though I play one on RBR), but I've worked on a lot of toilets in a string of old houses. Sounds to me like something stuck downstream. Can't remember if you have children, but if you do, Barbie is a prime suspect. Sometimes she goes swimming and loses things in the toilet. If you get a small mirror and a flashlight, you may even be able to see far enough down to spot her Jet Ski...
Start with a good plunging. Use a plumber's helper that will seal tightly around the hole (smearing Vaseline on it may help) and go hard. The trick is to push down firmly, but then YANK that sucker up, over and over for several seconds. You want to create suction and pull things OUT, not push them deeper. Sometimes it works.
If you have a plumbers snake (cheap at Home Depot), you can often work it down and around the corners and into the main drain. That can dislodge whatever's in there, though if it's something skinny (hey, THERE'S my toothbrush!), both the plunger and the snake are likely to fail.
If so, it's not a horrible job to take the toilet up. Pretty much self-explanatory, or any home repair book will give directions. Buy a new wax gasket first, because you can't reuse the old one, and be sure to shut off the water. Don't overtighten the nuts when you fasten it back down, or you get to do the job a second time with a new commode.
Let us know how it turns out. We're on the edge of our, uh, seats.
Cory, you've potentially saved me the most moneyKristin
Dec 17, 2002 10:20 AM
You mentioned that the wax gasket can not be re-used. I can't remember if I mentioned this in my original post but...

Three weeks ago the builders came back to repair a crack in the fiberglass tub--which they cracked while replacing the tub surrounnd --which they had initially screwed up. In order to repair the crack they needed to remove the frame from the whirlpool tub. And in order to remove the frame they needed to remove the toilet. When they re-installed the toilet, I am quite sure they did not replace the wax gasket--which I didn't know existed until I read your post. I'm sure of this because they did not arrive at my unit with any plans to remove said toilet, and before replacing it they never ran out for new supplies. I doubt had a spare on them. Besides, replacing it would contradict everything I've come to know about them.

My top priority project will be to replace the wax seal this weekend. I live on the second floor and hopefully its not leaking too badly. I'll snake out the drain once the toilet is up.
czardonic hasn't been to visit you, has he?moneyman
Dec 12, 2002 2:01 PM
Because if he had, I would say that he may have filled it full of bs and caused it to slow down.

If you are smart and have not had him over, I'd say look at the kind of toilet it is. It may be one of the water-saver models, in which case the problem is inherent. Not much you can do but replace the toilet with one that shoots more water down the drain. If I remember right, this is a new house and therefore a new toilet. If so, I'd say that's your problem. Shell out for a new one and your problems are likely over.

If you tighten the nuts on the bolts that hold the toilet to the floor, don't over tighten them - they will crack the porcelain and then you will have a leak you cannot fix. Also, if you take the toilet up, be sure to replace the wax ring. Set the toilet in place, lean on it to set it on the wax ring, then tighten the bolts to just very snug.

Look for the Barbie jet ski first, but I'd bet that $20 on the fact that your problem was caused by a bunch of well-meaning but misguided enviros and their demands that we all live according to their dictums.

Moneyman's never right on anything political butOldEdScott
Dec 13, 2002 8:19 AM
he knows his sh*t about toilets. Pay him.

You have a new toilet, which is one of those watersaver models, otherwise known as turd floaters. I'm as Green as the next guy, but water's water and it never goes away (100 percent recycled every time) and for the kife of me I don't understand the need for these things. They don't flush worth a damn. You need the heavier weight of more water in the tank to OOOMPH the bowl empty, and you ain't got it.

Common problem. Pain in the ass.
On the contrary, I'm ALWAYS right about politicsmoneyman
Dec 13, 2002 9:53 AM
And I believe I am right about the toilet, too. Thanks for the recognition.

The lower capacity flushes makes the enviros feel better, even if it really does not do anything. We aren't running out of water any time soon, although here in the intermountain west (Wyoming) we could use some additional moisture. But its the watering lawns and washing cars that does it, not flushing toilets. As an aside, I have a very traditional landscaping plan, with Kentucky Bluegrass and thirsty flowers. It's really my wife's fault, as she is the planner and I am just the laborer. If I were to do this all over again, I would be xeriscaping and becoming less irrigation dependent. But I will never give up my high capacity flusher until they pry the handle from my cold, dead fingers.

$$ (Politics lessons available for a reasonable fee)
True. Usually you fall just to the right of Limbaugh.czardonic
Dec 13, 2002 3:53 PM
And you are typically about as wrong as he is when it comes to anything other than toilets.
re: A more serious question...what's wrong with my commode?LLSmith
Dec 13, 2002 2:58 AM
Send the money to Cory. At first it sounded like your float was binding.After reading the entire post it seems there must be something clogged in the drain line.The water will only leave the tank as fast as it can go into the bowl.
Confused commode?Turtleherder
Dec 13, 2002 8:38 AM
Maybe it's a south american toilet and just can't get the water spinning the correct direction up here. It sounds like you may have a blockage in the soil pipe either at your place or someone elses down stream. Check with the neigbhors to see if theirs work correctly. You may have to have roto-rooter come and clean the line. People will sometimes try and flush things that are too big and they get stuck. Things like kids toys, diapers, clothes, all sorts of big stuff.
It could also be a problem with the vent pipe. In order for the water to go down, the main soil line has to have a vent pipe to the outside to equalize the pressure. If there is something blocking it, like a rag left over from the installation process, it will slow down the whole works.
As for the flapper value in the tank check to see how much chain there is between the flapper and the handle arm. It may be just too long to get the flapper raised high enough to stay up.
On the tank leaking problem try tightning the bolts that hold the tank to the base. There should be wing nuts on the underside of the tank on either side of the base. If this is an old toilet the gasket material under the bolt heads in the tank may be rotten. If so just replace the whole bolt and gasket. They can be purchased at a hardware store and are easy to install. If you do this besure to also replace the gasket between the tank body and the base.
The straight poop..DINOSAUR
Dec 17, 2002 9:48 AM
Hey, I know my shi*! Is your condo located in a newly developed subdivision? We live in the country and have a septic tank, but they ran a sewer line down the side the road because of a new upscale housing development miles up the road. Because of this a lot of land that could not perk (support a septic system) was developed as they could hook up to the sewer line. However the county did not make the sewer line large enough and people who paid big bucks for houses have big time problems with their crappers. A lot of poop and no place to go.

Otherwise it sounds like you have an obstruction (see if your neighbors have problems first narrowing out the sewer line problem). You can rent a industrial plumbers snake, the kind you buy in hardware stores usually don't do the job unless you want to plop out some buck bucks.

The float is easy to replace, just remember to turn off your water to the toilet first.

If this stuff doesn't work it beats the crap out of me..

Seriously- this is no joking matter. We had our pipe that connects our house to our septic tank collapse a couple of years ago and our septic started to overflow into our house. It cost us a small fortune to have someone come out with a backhoe and dig 6 feet down in order to repair the pipe. It's the little things we use everyday that we take for granted and when they go bottoms up we are up the creek....
LOL - Thank you for that. Here's the poop scoop.Kristin
Dec 17, 2002 10:03 AM
I am in the process of resolving it. I hope to catch some of my neighbors this week. Seems like everyone has had company recently... The toilet is not a water saver, just a plain old Eljer (sp?) 1.6. The flush problem seems to come and go. Some days it works fine, others it does not. So I suspect a problem with the condo's plumbing. These condo's are considered a refurbishment--a conversion. The apartment complex was technically considered ghetto and a developer bought the buildings and complely rebuilt the units. But the main plumbing and electical, etc...was not touched. Only the trim was redone.

I did buy a $5 snake at the hardware store. Perhaps I'll return it and rent a bigger one... But I'm not really excited about the whole concept of the snake to begin with... You want me to stick that where?? lol. I do plan to replace the float, but I'll do that last.