Ask Your Question

Angie's List Answers is the trusted spot to ask home improvement and health questions and get answers from service companies, health providers and consumers. For ratings and reviews on companies in your area, search Angie's List.

Top 30 Days Experts
Rank Leader Points*
1 kstreett 240
2 Guest_9020487 110
3 Guest_9190926 105
4 GoldenKid 100
5 ahowell 95
6 KnowledgeBase 95
7 skbloom 80
8 Guest_98024861 70
9 Guest_9311297 70
10 Guest_9400529 70

*Updates every 4 hours

Browse Projects By Category

Question DetailsAsked on 1/10/2017

When we flush our toilet the water fills up to the brim and then will drain slowly after a few hours.

What could be the issue?

Do you have the same question? Follow this Question

3 Answers


I am assuming you have no backup problems into tub/shower/floor drains/laulndry tub when water is run anywhere else, which if that was occurring would indicate not a toilet but a drain line blockage, which you would normally want a Sewer and Drain Cleaning contractor to handle.

Assuming only the toilet has problems - since it takes several hours to drain, you have a near-complete blockage - almost always in the "gooseneck" trap inside the toilet, the curved portion which commonly shows as a gooseneck bulge on the sides of the toilet casting - so only a foot or less into the toilet. That portion has a fairly tight curve, which between that and the sizing of the toilet outlet generally catches anything that is not going to make it though the sewer lines, because they are at least in newer construction) almost always an inch or more larger in diameter than that passage.

Of course a Plumbing or Plumbing - Drain Cleaning contractor can clear it for around $100-125 plus or minus about $25 or so commonly - half again to double that amount commonly for night or weekend calls.

You can also snake it yourself with a toilet router (AKA toilet snake, closet snake - a snake with a protective rubber sleeve so it does not mar the visible portion of the toilet outlet finish).

Commonly, if you let it drain down by itself as far as it will go, then put in a small squirt of liquid dish soap like Dawn (to help break it up and lubricate things) then using a bucket pour in full-hot water (let run to full hot temp BEFORE starting to fill bucket so it is full temp) from the tub or shower, and pour the water in until the level in the bowl is again close to the underside of the rim, a couple of bucket fulls (keeping it filled to near rim level while it slowly drains out to increase the water flow) will generally clear any clog that is not due to foreign material in the toilet - washcloths, toys, feminine hygiene products, pill or shampoo or similar bottles, etc.

I do NOT recommend drain cleaner for this - can boil back out into the bowl and release nasty gases, and also can commonly mar the finish in the toilet. Also - an "old wive's method" which still appears on some DIY sites and Pinterest and such is heating up some boiling water in a teapot or kettle and pouring that in - it will certainly usually work much faster, but you risk cracking the porcelain or ceramic toilet, and can also melt or deform the ring or gasket which seals the underside of the toilet to the drain line so it does not leak, so not worth the risk. Full faucet hot temperature works well enough and I have never heard of it damaging a toilet.

Assuming no foreign materials - what I normally use in the event a couple of buckets of hot water does not solve it, and have never failed to succeed with within a couple of minutes, is a $5-10 rubber cup type plunger like the following link from any plumbing or box store - one shown is a mini, you want the full size version with about a 2 foot handle.

You do NOT want the bulb or air-pressure type - they ignore the basic principle of drain cleaning. The blockage got caught in there in and stuck in place under the pressure of the water flowing out of the bowl - using a bulb or "air blast" type MIGHT push it free (and the external air pressure bottle type have also been known to split a toilet or shoot a jet of dirty water into your face) - but is just a likely to jam it in tighter. You want to use a cup-type plungaer, slowly pressing down on it to compress the cup over the outlet opening hole in bottom of the toilet (preferably with an incomplete edge seal so it is not pressuring up the drain opening), then making sure it is tightly sealed around the exit opening, then sharply pull back on it. This forms a partial vacuum in the drain passage of the toilet and pulls the blockage back the way it came, loosening it up and generally within 2-4 such pullbacks, causing it to flush on down. Then flush the toilet at least twice (after waiting for full tank refill each time) to be sure it is flushing correctly and draining quickly, and also to move the blockage material on down to the street or septic tank.

If the blockage is caused by a foreign item, then a plumber who does drain cleaning who has a "cutter head snake" (for toys, containers) or "spiral tip grabber snake" (for cloth/plastic sheet materials) is probably needed, rarely sometimes even a sewer cleaning contractor with a recovery snake with an on-board camera which allows him to see the item and grab onto it and pull it out. The grabber camera snakes are rare except in large cities - so usually if a regular plunger or snake cannot pull it out and he cannot clear it with a cutter or spiral tip recovery type snake, they just dismount the toilet and pull the offending item out of the toilet from the bottom - adding typically $50 or so to the service call.

Ditto if your toilet has one of the newer cone or insert-type waxless rubber or plastic toilet base seals which fits down into the sewer line flange from the toilet, instead of the flush-sealing wax seal. Those new type that stick down into the drain line reduce the inside diameter and provide a blockage point which can sometimes trap things that would otherwise have passed through the sewer lines cleanly - my personal recommendation if the toilet is pulled and has one of those - replace it with proper thickness wax seal for the type fo flooring thickness and toilet flange setting height you have under the toilet.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD


Meant to include these links to other similar questions in my response, FYI -

Also, if solids are flushing down it OK and it is not blocking up more and more, with the very slow draining that could be indicative of a blocked vent line, though usually a toilet in this situation would just pull air from a nearby sink or shower/tub.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD



This is Erick in Member Care. Thanks for your interest in Angie's List!

We'll be happy to help find top rated Plumbers to look into this and to fix the problem but it doesn't look like you have a subscription to the List yet. You can join by visiting or by giving us a call. Our call center is available 8:00 am-9:00 pm weekdays and 8:00-5:00 pm ET on Saturdays.

Thanks for your question and we look forward to assisting you!

Answered 3 years ago by Member Services

Related Questions

Terms Of Use
Privacy Policy