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Question DetailsAsked on 11/24/2016

One of two upstairs toilet bowels will not hold water, it drains out minutes after fluch is complete.

I have been on the roof and found that the plumbing vents were never opened. I have since opened them. This same toilet had the same problem when house was first built 3 years ago but then stopped on its own. Don't believe it's a leak with how quickly the bowl drains and no water is visible or damage to subfloor, softness around toliet. All other toilets and plumbing in the house works fine. House is in KY built in 2013.

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3 Answers


Below are some links to answers about this type of situation - some of which might, others might not be applicable to your case.

Generally, for quick empyting like that -

1) if windy and water is surging in the bowl as the wind blows over the vent pipes, nothing to do about that except maybe put deflector-type cap on the vents - or just let a bit more water flow into the bowl to refill it if sewer gas is getting into the house through the bowl (meaning the water level is getting low enough that the top of the outlet opening is above water level).

2) something caught in the gooseneck (the top of the arch up from the bowl before the passage goes down into the drain line - commonly seen as a "gooseneck" bulge on the side of the toilet casting) - like fabric or string, or sometimes a rough casting catching strong or quilted toilet paper, which then acts as a wick draining the water out of the bowl. A piece of string or thread commonly takes hours to drain it down - paper can do it in less than an hour.

3) cracked toilet casting - though you would expect to see water damage appearing somewhere if that was the case. Certainly if this has another floor or basement or crawlspace under it you should be seeing water/wetness down there if a leak - though very rarely a crack will be right in the bottom of the bowl and just happen to leak into the wax seal and down the drain pipe.

Since you said it did it, then did not, now is again - I would guess something caught in the gooseneck causing it to wick out - try snaking it out with a closet snake (toilet snake with rubber upper sleeve to prevent scratching/leaving marks in the bottom of the bowl). Also - if due to rough gooseneck casting or maybe a ridge or such catching paper, has uyour household recently changed toilet tissue type from a weak, water-degradeable paper to something stronger or less water degradeable which might be hanging up and wicking ? Charmin and some quilted (especially needle-punches multi-layer quilted) papers are known to cause this issue.

One other possibility, especially if the vents are connected at the end of the drain pipe run for the bathroom rather than individually at each fixture, like this sketch shows (correct if the green lines in Figure A were added to the system, so each fixture has vertical venting up from it just after the trap); the second one showing combined fixture venting which does not work as well).

Could not find an image of the wrong way (but sometimes done, especially in about pre-80's homes) where all the bathroom fixtures lead into one drain line ordrain manifold (the "start" of the stack) which then leads into the main stack and on out to street or septic tank. At the "uphill" end of the bathroom main drain line or manifold collecting these different fixtures, the vent stack to the roof is connected. Therefore, each fixture does not have an independent connection to the vent to the roof - which can cause the water in the trap to be drawn down by the partial suction of water flowing down the drains either if the drain line is mostly full (which can be the case during a toilet flush) or if the drain manifold get plugged with debris at the "uphill" end, blocking the vent.

Running water down the vent pipe from the roof can usually clear out accumulated debris in the bottom of the vent pipe at the manifold IF it runs straight down into it - but if the vent runs to the main stack with branches to the bathrooms the water will not go through those branches to flush it out, so might take accessing the manifold from an end plug or cutting into that vent riser to snake/flush it out.

If the above does not help, then DIY or having a Plumber pull the toilet and check for roughness in the gooseneck, casting flaw, casting leak, etc would be the next option - followed possibly by running a camera in the manifold to look for a blockage for the vent - or sometimes just (especially with plastic pipe because it is much easier) adding another vent line coming off the manifold or preferably directly off the top of the toilet drain line upwards and connecting into the vent pipe where convenient.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD


One additional thing which I could not get into the first answer because it timed me out while I was looking for a picture to link to it - regarding the "uphill" end of the manifold plugging up with solids in a system where the manifold is used as part of the vent system - obviously if the manifold or upper end of the stack line serving the bathroom(s) is quite flat lying as it commonly is (generally in the floor joists), and most particularly if the toilet enters that line through an ordinary sanitary or rodding Tee, rather than a sweep sanitary Tee or sanitary wye or combo which directs the flow downstream (differences pictured below in image wtih the red crossout on it), then the flow is basically just "dropping" into the line rather than being directed down toward the outlet - so solids can back up into the "upstream" part of the line easier, causing a blockage in that part.

A properly plumbed manifold like that has snaking/jetting access - either directly from the "uphill" or "upstream" end via a cleanout plug, or down through the roof vent via a direct (unbranched) vertical vent pipe.

One other thing - if vented directly off the upstream end of the manifold (if even legal in your area when house was built - generally is not now not in most areras in 2013), the right way to do it is to put a cleanout or rodding Tee at the upstream and of the manifold end with an accessible cleanout plug or sometimes an extension leading at least slightly uphill (or steeper up preferable so use of the cleanout is neater - not backflowing through the cleanout when it is open) to an accessible cleanout plug, and bring the vent in at the top of the manifold through the Tee. That way the vent entry to the manifold is full-diameter at the very top of the line, so not as likely to plug up with solids as if it comes in via a 90 at the end of the manifold.

OK - found a diagram somewhat showing an end-vented manifold - figure this picture (ignoring the specifics of the plumbing joints) but without the two vertical 2" vent lines toward the right - so the only vent is the one to the roof at far left. Of course, in normal case all the drain line would be a straight run across the bottom at a low slope, without the higher second-story one being shown at left side.


One other DIY possibility, if up to a toilet changeout and assuming a normal, not designer toilet - would be to buy a new toilet for $100-300 and swap it for that one and see if that solves the problem. Add $100-200 typically for a plumber to do the swap for you.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD



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