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Question DetailsAsked on 3/15/2016

Toilet overflows intermittently

My son recently moved into his new (built 1952) home and we noticed that the 1st floor toilet (Crane) filled above the bottom of the rim before flushing, but did eventually flush. A few weeks later, a friend used too much paper, causing the toilet to clog and overflow. The clog was removed with a combination of buckets of hot water/dish soap, plunging, and use of a toilet snake. The toilet STILL fills over the bottom of the rim and has overflowed again, several times.

There is no problem draining the sink or tub in this bathroom and the basement toilet works fine. No leaking at the base of this toilet either.

He can run the washing machine and dishwasher at the same time with no backup issues (the soil pipe is 'in front of' them on the 'main drain' line under the basement floor)

Could the wrong 'guts' in the toilet be part of the problem?
If the toilet was reseated incorrectly after the floor was tiled cause this problem?

Should we just remove the toilet and start again??

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3 Answers


Ignoring the too much paper overflow which could happen on any toilet and may or may not have been related to the general high fill/overflow issue:

1) as long as the fill level in the tank was not raised above the max fill line when the "guts" were replaced, that should not cause filling above the BOTTOM of the rim, at the most - usually a bit below that. I suppose a faaster inflow valve (hence a bit more total water to drain out) combined with a slower closing flapper could cause that with a toilet model with small outlet hole, but excepting some very small outlet hole very low flush volume water-saver toilets, I have never seen a toilet (barring blockages) that could not easily handle significantly more than the tank could provide to the bowl.

2) you have correctly scoped out the situation regarding the basement toilet working, so the blockage is not in the sewer line to the street or it would be backing up in the basement

3) ditto about the washer/dishwasher running together not causing it, so backup does not appear to be far downstream of the first floor toilet

4) yes, a toilet not centered on the drain pipe, a misplaced wax ring - or one of the newer cone type insert plastic rings - can cause blockage right under the toilet, which sounds like a good candidate for the source of his problem - especially if it started right after the tiling. I would suspect either one of the new cone seats (which reduce the hole size so generally promote blockages, especially with low-flow toilets), a wax ring that slipped to partly obscure the hole, or they used a thick tile floor wax ring but the tile does not run in under the toilet so standard thickness should have been used, causing partial blockage because as the toilet was seated in the ring it bulged out into the drain opening.

5) too thin a wax ring can do it too, but not as readily. If the previous flooring was thin under the toilet (like linoleum or vinyl) or did not go in under at all, but this time the tile was run in under it so the toilet sits 1/2" or so higher than before relative to the flange on the sewer pipe, normally a thicker "tile floor" wax ring is needed to fill the gap. If a standard thickness seal is used, it can leave a gap. Commonly this causes leakage under the toilet base, but if fully caulked all the way around the base (bad practice but some local codes require it) you do not see the water leaking out - and the gap can cause solids and paper to get caught on the gap and lead to a blockage at that point.

Not knowing if the problem is at the toilet seal or shortly downstream (maybe where the toilet drain wyes into the soil stack, for instance) I would get a Sewer Cleaning company to come out, remove the toilet (and check seal situation) and rout out the pipe from the toilet opening to be sure - will cost relatively little to get it routed beyond the toilet removal/replacement charge. Then get proper thickness wax ring reinstalled when the toilet is remounted.

Cost probably about $100-150 in many areas, so $200-250 in high-priced ones. If the problem is the toilet seating or seal, I would have the vendor document that on the invoice (maybe a photo or to to prove it ?) if you have any intention of going back against the tile layer or plumber who remounted the toilet after the tiling was done.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD



Thanks VERY much for all your input! Unfortunately, the bathroom was updated before it was put up for sale, so we have no way of knowing who did the tile and plumbing work.

That being said, I've found a local handyman with great references who will help us deal with the problem.

I can't tell you how much I appreciate you taking the time to help us narrow down (no pun intended!) the problem. Thanks again :)

Answered 4 years ago by Misschris115


Alternating between a 6 ft toilet auger and toilet plunger solved the problem of a toilet that would clog up right after it was cleared by a plunger. I had a strong suspicion that my son had flushed some foreign object down so I was on a mission the extract it. Here's how: First I used the auger to clear the clog, making sure the entire length of the snake was extended and rotated freely all the way in the toilet drain. With the auger in the toilet, flush the toilet and it should drain. Set towels around the bowl just in case of overflow. If it doesn't flush, keep rotating the auger, reversing directions after several turns. Once the toilet is able to flush, remove auger. You have likely dislodged the object causing the clog. Do not flush again or the dislodged object will reclog the toilet. With the auger removed, use you plunger to try to suck the dislodged object out of the toilet. Since a plunger works as an expeller when forced downward and a suction when pulled up, be careful not to apply much downward force, but apply strong pulling force to suck out the object. After several attempts, my efforts were rewarded when up pops a tennis ball. I proceeded to flush wads of toilet paper just to be sure and now there's no more clog.

Answered 2 years ago by arnoldgwynn94132

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