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Question DetailsAsked on 1/28/2014

My toilet fills high but doesn't overflow, within an hour it has all drained out. I am in un upstairs townhouse,

I have 2 bathrooms, back to back, only one toilet acting this way.

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12 Answers

1
Vote

Are you talking about the bowl or the tank? I'm going to assume bowl since you didn't mention running water from the fill valve. There's a good chance that both bathrooms share the same vent stack since they are back to back so I wouldn't look there as I normally might, but don't rule it out as a possible contributor to the problem. There are several possible causes to your problem.


Does the toilet flush but the water refills too much? As long as the flushing is not affected I'd guess (without seeing it that's really all I can do) you have a problem with the fill valve in the tank which is allowing too much water to the bowl after the flush.

A. It is possible that a fill valve was installed with a hose which allows too much water to return to the bowl, rather than the tank, as the tank is refilled following a flush. If there is a problem with the valve it would be that it is clogged in the tank and not letting enough water fill the tank but still letting the full amount through to the bowl. Maybe someone can explain this better than I can. Basically, if you take the lid off of the tank you'll see a fill valve to the left and a small hose that goes into a tube in the middle of the tank. There is a flapper attached at the base of that tube. We'll get to it in a minute. Anyway, that hose carries some water to that tube with directly flows into the bowl to rinse and refill it after a flush. Some of the newer fill valves require, and include, a crimp device to limit the flow of water through that hose so that the bowl does not fill faster than the tank, which requires more water.

B. Another possibility related to the fill valve is that the float mechanism is not closing the valve imediately when the tank fills to the appropriate level. Assuming the water does eventually turn off given the language of the question the valve may be getting momentarily stuck open which causes excess water to run through the overflow tube (the one in the middle that the flapper is attached to) and into the bowl. On older toilets where the engineering of the trap in the toilet doesn't allow a flush until there is quite a bit of water in the bowl this can cause the water to rise quite high in the bowl, and then slowly recede. The fix for this could be as simple as pushing the float up and down a few times to work any buildup free to replacing the fill valve. Sometimes a slight adjustment of the float so that it receives more pressure from the rising water does the trick. Also, check the float for cracks. It shouldn't have any water in it. If it isn't fully boyant it won't do it's job either.

C. The flapper could be staying open to long, allowing water intended to refill the tank to flow into the bowl immediately following a flush. This could be a simple adjustment of the chain or a replacement of the flapper.


My gut says it is something to do with the mechanics of the fill and flush components in the tank but without seeing it flush and checking the components it is hard to say for sure. A possibility having nothing to do with the parts of the tolet is a partial blockage of the drain. This could be the drain itself or the vent pipe as mentioned above. If the water is backing up momentarily when flushing it could be that you are actually not getting a full flush and some of the extra water is actually from the previous flush. When you flush the toilet the waste should exit and then the jets around the rim should rinse the bowl. If the waste isn't exiting fast enough with the rinse water following the rinse water could be getting backed up in the trap and very bottom of the toilet, giving the bowl a head start at refilling.


If you are at all handy check all of the "guts" of the toilet. That is, check the parts inside the tank as I mentioned above. If you still can't find any problems you should probably call a plumber.

Answered 3 years ago by Todd's Home Services

0
Votes

If you have two toilets back to back it sounds like you have a clog between the toilet and the main stack. You could try a plunger and it may break it free. If you do not have one they are not that expensive and are well worth having in a home. I am partial to the black rubber ones with the one with a flange or extension that extends downinto the toilet bowl trap and I find that if you tip it to the side and let the bulb fill with water the extra water in the plunger helps dislodge a clog. If not it should be a minimun charge call for a drain cleaning company to take care of it.


Don

Answered 3 years ago by ContractorDon

0
Votes

The way the gooseneck flushing flow path in the toilet is made, the water in the bowl stops dropping at the elevation of the bottom surface of the top of the gooseneck passage in the toilet - you can usually see the gooseneck path on the outside of the toilet as a raised curved surface. This raised portion of the gooseneck passage prevents the toilet bowl from completely draining out when it flushes, thereby forming a trap to keep sewer gases out. The only way the water in the bowl can stay noticeably above that level is if there is a blockage, regardless of how much water the tank may be leaking down. Case in point - when a toilet keeps "running" because of a flapper leak or stuck fill valve, the bowl does not overflow unless it is blocked - the water just endlessly runs into the toilet as a slow stream and out the drain and down through the gooseneck, maintaining the same level in the bowl - sometimes to the tune of thousands of gallons per month.

This is the level the water wants to reach - normally it flushes down rapidly and essentially empties the bowl, then refills from the fill valve in the tank to a low static level. If the bowl is overfilling during the flush (near to the rim) or staying at a higher level after the flush, then you have a partial blockage, likely in the gooseneck but remotely possibly in the drain pipe between the toilet and where its drain pipe meets the one from the other toilet backed up to it.

My recommendation - a plunger may work but may not be needed. If it is caused by paper or some foreign material draped over the top of the gooseneck but not fully blocking flow, or a floating item like a child's toy, frequently using a bucket with full hot water from the tub/shower poured down it will flush it out. Pour in as fast as you can to fill the bowl to the underside of the rim without splashing, but don't let it overflow of course. Mix a bit of dishwashing or liquid (not oily) hand soap into it to help lubricate the process. Usually a couple of buckets full of full hot water will do the job, as hot water breaks down toilet paper pretty fast. If not, then plunger time.

One thing with plungers - the blockage got into place under the force of the flushing water, so it is stuck in the "forward" direction. The bulb or piston type plunger that was in a prior comment pushes forward, so if it does not push it clear, it can cause a plug to tighten up and become a full blockage that will then have to be snaked. To unplug a blockage, I recommend best way (if hot water will not work) is to use a conventional plunger like this -

http://www.amazon.com/Cobra-Products-...

that fits over the entire hole in the bottom of the bowl, GENTLY compress it so the center is depressed well into the cup, then release pressure quickly so it pulls a suction on the gooseneck, pulling the blockage back towards you. Sometimes, with partial blockages caused by toilet paper "plastered" in the drain, a back and forth surging action works best - but be careful about bubbling and splashes.

For a difficult blockage, then you need a toilet snake or closet toilet auger (a snake with protective cover so the wire snake does not scratch the porcelain) - looks like this -

http://ehowdiy.com/how_to_clear_clogs...

cost about $20-50 depending on brand and length, or call a plumber or sewer and drain contractor (usually a bit cheaper) for about $75-150 service call charge.

One comment - a LOT of blockages are being caused by the multi-ply quilted toilet papers - my favorites plumbers say Quilted Northern and Quilted Charmin are among the worst, because they break down slowly. My favorite sewer and drain contractor also blames them on a significant increase in calls for plugged sewers and leach fields - he sees a lot of sewer pipes with a heavy matted lining of toilet paper sticking to the grease lining the pipe, reducing the diameter of the pipe. Both say that in recent years since the quilted paper became popular the incidence of slow draining toilets versus blocked has gone up significantly. Odds that that is the type of paper you use ?

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

0
Votes

Thank you for your explanations and ideas. I did pour several buckets of hot water down,

plunged it but the water drains out while I am plunging it. The only way it will hold water

is if I pour it in a cup at a time. I use Cottonelle toilet paper.

Source: toilet owner

Answered 3 years ago by kateatcw

0
Votes

I am confused - you say water drains out when you plunge, and will not hold water unless you add a cup at a time. Do I take this to mean problem solved, or that it drains when you plunge it but still backs up when flushing during regular use ?

If fixed, Bravo.

If not, and still backs up in use, then sounds like you have a floating blockage for it to drain during plunging but block under low flow, so you need a plumber to snake it out - because in that event it is likely to plug up completely in the next use or few, as material adds to the blockage. Sounds like you have a foreign object floating in the top of the trap - I have heard of cosmetic cases, small deodorant applicators, and body sponges doing that, as well as kids toys.

Cost for plumber or sewer and drain contractor probably about $75-125, unless blockage turns out to be in the sewer pipe rather than toilet itself, then probably $125-175 range except in extremely high cost much cities higher.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

0
Votes

When I poured the hot water in, it goes right down. When I flush, it goes down, fills high and drains out quickly. I put water in a little at a time and it has stayed there for 5 hours. No

children here. Sorry this is so confusing. It just doesn't seem to be blocked.

Answered 3 years ago by kateatcw

0
Votes

It sounds like you have partially uncloged it. A toilet works with a siphon action, the larger bucket and when you use the flush lever is going down from my understanding of what you wrote. When you put a little in at a time it does not start the siphon. If you could see what the inside of the toilet looks like it is like an S laying on it's side. As the water is poured into the on side of the S it pushes the water up and over the hump the sideways S makes. If the water when added a cup at a time comes all the way up to the rim you still have a clog, if it is just a little bit higher than normal you may have gotten rid of the clog or at least part of it. You may want to hit it with the plunger a few more times and then test it with a small amount of toilet paper wadded into a ball (a small ball) and see it it goes down. On some of the toilets you can see the shape of the trap if you look on the side of the outer toilet above the bolts that may be covered with plastic caps.


Don

Answered 3 years ago by ContractorDon

0
Votes

Sounds like you need more of a plumber than I am. All I can think of in this case, since it evidently is flushing fine, is one of two things:

1) you have a partial blockage at the bottom side of the top bend in the S, so that blockage is raising the water level - but this assumes the water level in the bowl is stabilizing higher than normal.

2) you are getting air into the system in quantity during the flush, so that water is building an air pocket in the S that is causing vapor lock, but without a blockage I can't see how that could work. With a big slug of water going down (flushing or bucket) it evidently has enough momentum to push the air bubble ahead of it, but when the bubble forms during flushing maybe the relatively slow filling of the bowl is not enough pressure to push it through so it fills the bowl high, then gradually leaks down. Why it would leak or bleed down then but not if you fill it bit by bit beats me.

If toilet is working OK when you flush, maybe before calling plumber copy this question with the replies and send to to the manufacturer's technical questions department - preferably with a photo of the toilet so they know what model it is.

Let us know what you find out - would be interesting to know the outcome of this case.

Oh - BTW - for the record, I forgot one of the most common floating blockage causes - pill bottles ddropped or knocked into the toilet. Kid's hair brushes are also common, and can be quite tough to get out.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

0
Votes

How old is the toilet? I've seen plenty of old toilets with mineral buildup do this simply because the flushing action is restricted. You can pour water faster with a bucket than the water flows through the jets in the toilet so it works fine from the bucket but with reduced flow between the tank and bowl it is like pouring a cup or two at a time. The water level rises in the bowl because the flow is not substantial enough to cause the siphon action. Sometimes the jets can be cleaned for marginal performance but chances are the buildup is inside of the channels of the toilet that carry water to the main jet at the bottom and and/or the ones around the rim at the top. If you want to invest in significant amounts of CLR you can repeatedly pour large amounts through the open tube in the tank and it should flow through the insides of the toilet to eat away at calium, rust, and whatever else may be in there. If the toilet it more than about 15 years old it is probably better to replace it with a newer, better flushing model which might use less water as well. Don't fall for the over-priced and over-engineered toilets with tons of hard to find parts for future repair. You can get a good one for under $200 + the cost of replacement.

Answered 3 years ago by Todd's Home Services

0
Votes

OK, the toilet is less than 9 years old. I did put some paper in it, took the back lid off and flushed. The paper did not go down, there was a release of water from the back tank. I

don't know if any of that helps.

Source: toilet owner

Answered 3 years ago by kateatcw

0
Votes

I'm sorry to say I think you are going to have to bite the bullet and pay a plumber to investigate this one. It may be something simple but without physically seeing everything first hand we've all speculated to the best of our abilities I think. There is something either interfering with the drain (trap in the toilet, pipe in the floor, or even the vent pipe) as those components were designed and intended or the water is not entering the bowl with enough force to start the siphon action.

Answered 3 years ago by Todd's Home Services

0
Votes

Assuming the tank was near full (typically within about 1 inch of top - there is a fill line) and emptied completely in about 10 seconds or so, then the flush mechanism is probably all right, so that would leave blockage as the cause - assuming it flushes vigorously with a good whirlpool in the bottom, then toilet gooseneck or drain pipe partial blockage is the answer. Lime or iron buildup can restrict flow into the bowl, but if that were the case you wouldnot have a vigorous flush - the water would just slowly flow into the bowl from the tank.

Time to call a plumber - typically $75-125 for a visit, which should solve the problem. If you have a slowly draining tank due to a flapper problem, probably same labor cost but maybe $10-15 parts additional. Search the List for local plumbers and their reviews.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD




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