Got a toilet with a weak flush? Here are four common slow-flush plumbing problems and their easy-to-fix DIY solutions.
1. The water level in the tank is low
Your problem may simply be a need for the float to ride higher in the tank, allowing the water level to increase.
- If your tank shows a low level of water, simply adjust the float accordingly as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Be careful not to damage the float as you adjust it or bend the rod that attaches it to the valve, which allows water to flow back into the tank. You could wind up with another problem: a leaking toilet and the sound of non-stop trickling water.
2. The flapper closes too quickly
In order for the toilet tank to drain, the flapper needs to lift up a reasonable distance.
- If there’s not enough lift and an insufficient amount of water drains into the bowl, remedy the situation by checking the length of the flapper chain.
- Shortening the chain holds the flapper open longer. In turn, this allows more water to flow through the toilet and flush through the system.
- You should see a slack of .6 to 1.2 cm (¼ to ½ inch) in the chain. Adjust, if necessary.
3. There’s a clog causing a slowdown
A clogged toilet can occur when an obstruction forms in the trap, sewer pipe or the vent pipe. While plugged up sewer pipes require a contractor, an inspection and possibly expensive repairs, the other two possibilities are easier to check:
First, fill a bucket or waste can with water and pour one or two gallons quickly into the affected toilet.
- If you see a swirl, but no flush or a weak flush, try a standard toilet plunger first.
- Try a toilet auger if that doesn’t work.
Next, try the vent pipe. The vent pipe is a pipe that measures about 5 to 8 cm (2 to 3 inches) in diameter and protrudes from your roof by about 30 cm (a foot).
- You’ll find it above the location of the toilet in your home.
- You can either run a plumber’s snake down the pipe or force water through it with an expansion nozzle or water pressure bulb to flush out the blockage.
Any time you venture onto your roof, use extreme caution and do not take any risks, especially if you have not tried doing this before.
4. Mineral buildup is creating a blockage
Occasionally, you may find your toilet’s rim feed holes get clogged with calcium and/or other minerals, thus weakening the flush. In that case, a good dose or two of toilet bowl cleaner should help get rid of the buildup. Simply follow these steps:
- Shut off your water supply.
- Drain the tank.
- Tie the flapper open.
- Pour ¼ litre (a cup) of toilet bowl cleaner down the flush valve opening.
- Let sit for an hour.
- Pour a mixture of 1/8 litre (1/2 cup) mixed with equal parts water down the flush valve opening.
- Close the flapper immediately.
- Turn on the water.
- Flush two or three times to rinse.
- Repeat if necessary.
If these things fail and you’ve tried everything else you can think of, then it’s probably a good idea to find a plumber for a better diagnosis and a professional solution!