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PLUMBING SYSTEM INSPECT DIAGNOSE REPAIR
AGE of PLUMBING MATERIALS & FIXTURES
AIR DISCHARGE at FAUCETS, FIXTURES
ANTI SCALD VALVES
ANODES & DIP TUBES on WATER HEATERS
BACKUP PREVENTION, SEPTIC
BACKUP PREVENTION, SEWER LINE
BACKWATER VALVES, SEWER LINE
BATH & KITCHEN DESIGN GUIDE
CHEMICAL CONTAMINANTS in WATER
CHEMICAL ODOR SOURCES
CHLORINE IN DRINKING WATER
DEBRIS in WATER SUPPLY, Water Heater
DEPTH of SEPTIC TANK
DRAIN & SEWER PIPING
FAUCETS & CONTROLS, KITCHEN & BATH
FAUCETS, OUTDOOR HOSE BIBBS
FLOOD DAMAGE ASSESSMENT, SAFETY & CLEANUP
FLOOR DRAIN / TRAP ODORS
FLUSHOMETER VALVES for TOILETS URINALS
GAS PIPING, VALVES, CONTROLS
GALVANIC SCALE & METAL CORROSION
HARD WATER - SOFTENERS
HEAT TAPES, Heat, Insulation prevent Freeze-Up
LEAD POISONING HAZARDS GUIDE
LEAD IN DRINKING WATER, HOW to REDUCE
METHANE GAS SOURCES
MIXING / ANTI-SCALD VALVES
MUNICIPAL WATER PRESSURE IMPROVEMENTS
NOISE / SOUND DIAGNOSIS & CURE
ODORS GASES SMELLS, DIAGNOSIS & CURE
ODORS IN WATER
ODORS, SEPTIC or SEWER
ODORS SEWER GAS in COLD WEATHER
ODORS, SULPHUR SMELL SOURCES
ANIMAL or URINE ODOR SOURCE DETECTION
PIPING IN BUILDINGS, Clogs Leaks Types
PLUMBING FIXTURES, KITCHEN, BATH
PLUMBING NOISE TRANSMISSION CONTROL
PLUMBING VENT DEFINITIONS & CODES
PLUMBING VENT DEFECTS & NOISES
PUMPS, WATER REPAIR
RELIEF VALVE LEAKS
RELIEF VALVE, TP VALVE, BOILER
RELIEF VALVE, TP VALVE, STEAM BOILER
RELIEF VALVE, WATER HEATER
RELIEF VALVE, WATER TANK
REPAIR BURST LEAKY PIPES
METHANE GAS HAZARDS
SEPTIC SYSTEM INSPECT DIAGNOSE REPAIR
SHUTOFF VALVE LOCATION, USE
SULPHUR & SEWER GAS SMELL SOURCES
SWEATING (CONDENSATION) on PIPES, TANKS
TOILETS, INSPECT, INSTALL, REPAIR
WATER, WELLS, WATER TANKS: TESTING GUIDE
WATER PRESSURE LOSS DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR
WATER PUMPS & TANKS
WATER SOFTENERS & CONDITIONERS
WATER SOURCE ALTERNATIVES
WATER SUPPLY & DRAIN PIPING
WATER SHUTOFF VALVE LOCATION, USE
WATER SHUTOFF VALVE, WELL PUMP
WATER TESTS, CONTAMINANTS, TREATMENT
WELLS CISTERNS & SPRINGS
WINTERIZE A BUILDING
How to fix a clogged toilet:
Here we explain how to accurately determine the cause of a clogged, stopped-up toilet or slow toilet drainage.
Understanding the cause of a blocked toilet helps assure that the right repair is made at the lowest cost.
Here we explain how to diagnose and repair problems with toilets, leaks, flushes, odors, noises, running and wasted water.
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All modern toilets receive human waste, urine, feces, and are intended to dispose of that matter in a sanitary fashion.
[Click to enlarge any image]
Before launching into our series of articles on diagnosing and repairing toilet problems such as clogged toilets, toilets that don't flush properly, running or leaky or noisy toilets, toilet odors, and loose toilets, take a look at the simple connection between a typical reservoir-tank toilet and the soil stack (waste piping) in the Carson Dunlop Associates sketch (above left), and review our description of basic types of toilets
If your toilet is backing up, here we give some advice on how to proceed. For added details on alternative methods to un-clog a blocked drain, also see BLOCKED DRAIN REPAIR METHODS for details of methods used to un-block a clogged drain line.
If you have had sewage back up and spill out of toilets into the building, cleanup is needed and you may face bacterial hazards. See SEWAGE CONTAMINATION IN buildings for advice.
Is the sewer line or soil stack clogged?
If flushing the toilet leads to a backup, or worse, a toilet overflow, it's possible that the toilet drain pipe has clogged, or there may be a clog right at the base of the toilet itself.
Before going to work with a toilet plunger - (as shown in our photo at page top) which is normally the first thing to try, ask some questions about just when and how the clog occurred. Because if a child or pet has dropped something into the toilet, you do not want to push that blockage further into the piping system where removing it will be more trouble and more expensive.
Our grandson, learning toilet training, flushed his peed-in underpants down the toilet. We have also found child's toys, and once, a dog's bone clogging the waste line just below the toilet. It might have been possible to fish this obstruction out of the toilet drain with a wire, but ultimately the owners simply removed the toilet to retrieve the blocking underwear.
If other building drains are working fine, but one toilet is flushing poorly, it is possible that there is a local blockage close to the toilet itself.
Brian Gilligan found this drain clog by asking Chase what happened to the missing underpants. He then removed the toilet from the floor [image], and by luck, the underpants were able to be easily retrieved - unblocking the clogged toilet drain before a backup and toilet overflow catastrophe had occurred.
How to Use a Toilet Plunger to Clear a Blocked Toilet
If no one has thrown any toys, clothes, or objects into the toilet, try using a toilet plunger. If there is sewage in the toilet you might want to wait a bit to see if the water and sewage level lowers before plunging - just to reduce unsanitary splashing.
At BLOCKED DRAIN REPAIR METHODS we discuss alternative methods used to clear a blocked drain.
Tips for Success Using a Toilet Plunger
The toilet plunger, an old stand-by, is often effective if
Watch out: don't flush a toilet if the bowl is already at a high level of water or waste - you're asking for a toilet overflow if you do.
In the unattractive example at left we show sewage backing up into the bowl of a clogged toilet. Flushing this toilet with the wastewater high in the bowl means an almost certain overflow of sewage into the bathroom. That mess wioll require both a mop-up and disinfection of the area.
Watch out: if you get toilet water on your skin, wash with soap and water. Same with clothes. Do not put a dirty finger in your eye, mouth, or in a cut - you are risking an infection.
For advice on using other methods to clear a blocked drain, including mechanical removal of an obstruction, use of drain clearing chemicals, more on using a toilet plunger, using a plumbing snake, using a kinetic water ram.
If you have had sewage back up and spill out of toilets into the building, cleanup is needed and you may face bacterial hazards.
See SEWAGE CONTAMINATION IN buildings for advice.
At More Reading is our list of toilet trouble diagnosis and repair articles. You will see that some toilet problems are fixed easily and right at the toilet by a simple adjustment, while others may not be the toilet's fault at all, and may need more thoughtful diagnosis and repair.
Taking off the toilet tank top: Some of these simple toilet diagnosis steps require that you look into the toilet flush tank on the back of the toilet.
Just lift the top off of the toilet tank and set it carefully aside on the floor where you won't break it or trip over it.
If you leave the tank top on the toilet seat (as we did for this photo) you're asking for trouble, and also, it's a bit in the way.
Our sketch below shows the parts you'll see inside the toilet tank. You may want to refer back to this drawing while reading the details of each class if individual toilet problems listed above and how they are detected, diagnosed, and repaired.
This article series discusses the cause, diagnosis, and repair of toilet problems (water closet problems) such as a toilet that does not flush well, clogged toilets, slow-filling toilets, running toilets, loose wobbly toilets, and odors at leaky toilets.
Reader Question: all of our toilets are overflowing - they take turns, but the problem comes & goes
All three of our toilets are taking turns overflowing if we let them. Some days it's one, another day it's it's another and on and on~ All other house drains are perfect. What is the problem and how do I fix it. Thank you! - Cynthia 7/29/12
Cynthia the helpful observation in your note is that all three toilets overflow - telling us that there is a system problem, not a blockage at an individual toilet drain line.
We discuss slow drains and clogged or failing septic systems - onsite waste disposal systems - septic tanks, drainfields, separately at SEPTIC SYSTEM INSPECT DIAGNOSE REPAIR.
Continue reading at CLOGGED DRAIN DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR or select a topic from the More Reading links shown below.
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