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Thread: Toilet troubles

  1. #1

    Default Toilet troubles

    Thank you Terry and all the participants for creating such an informative website! I've learned a lot about household plumbing just by reading through the theads.

    Now, I have a toilet problem that I don't know what to do about and I appreciate any advice that you can give.

    I have a 3.5 gallon Kohler Handicapped High toilet (bowl is 18 inches (K-3528)) in the Master Bedroom of my parents house that I installed about 16 years ago. The toilet has never really flushed right (very sluggish, tended to clog easily, etc). A plumber in the past has pulled the toilet, snaked out the drain, and found that there were never any blockages at all in the toilet or in the main stack. There was a styrafoam liner inside the tank that was contoured with a big block to make the toilet use less water. A few years ago, after being fed up with this toilet not flushing right, I pulled out the styrafoam liner and now the toilet uses about 4 gallons of water to flush.

    This seemed to solve the problem at the time, but in the last year, the toilet has started flushing sluggishly (water just barely getting enough swirl to make everything go down). The toilet is using the maximum amount of water it could use. I've determined that there isn't a blockage in the the main stack as the toilet in the bathroom on the opposite side of the wall which shares the same stack line flushes like a charm. I took two five gallon buckets of hot water and dumped them down the toilet and everything went down at rapid speed. I also snaked out the toilet and there were no blockages.

    I have noticed that there seems to be some small bits of black, sewage gunk that seems to back syphon into the toilet bowl when everything goes down after the toilet flushes. It only happens on this toilet. Do you think the trapway is heavily corroded? I know the trapway is unglazed.

    There appears to be no blockages.. Is this just a bad toilet? I really don't know what else to do, as I would like to save this toilet as they don't make 18 inch bowls anymore. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    It's not only the volume of water, but how fast it is delivered. If you have a small mirror, take a look under the rim at the holes there to see if they are all clogged up and get back. There are ways to potentially clean them out, but sometimes, it is just time to bite the bullet. I bought my mother an ADA height Toto Drake over Christmas...seems to work great and wasn't too expensive - I think it was around $225, but don't quote me on that. There are a bunch of ADA height toilets around, but 18" is on the high side from what I remember (not much!). Typical ADA height is around 2" taller than "normal" height toilets, but varies. There is a height range that is specified to qualify for that ADA qualification - not sure what it is.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  3. #3
    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    Sometimes there is something in the trapway that a snake will go by without being pushed or pulled out.
    I have a closet auger with a 1-5/8" head that pretty well pushes everything out.
    If there is something flipping back and forth in the trapway, it can cause intermittent blocking.

  4. #4

    Default Toilet Troubles..

    Thank you for your advice! I took a small mirror and checked out the holes underneath the rim of the toilet and all was clear. I even took a coat hanger and poked it through all of them and just a couple of of the holes proved to be slightly clogged with lime/calcium. The tank does not appear to be draining slow at all, so I don't think the rim is clogged up.

    Yes, the toilet bowl is a definate 18 inches from the floor to the rim. We are an exceptionally tall family, so that's why it was installed when we remodeled the bathroom. It was a special order commercial toilet that we ordered directly from Kohler around 1991. Paid a lot of money for it back then. It has one of those Kohler trapizoid tanks. Replacing this toilet has always been on my mind, but I haven't been able to locate one that is 18 inches high. All seem to be shorter.

    I'm thinking that the toilet was made defective as it has proven difficult to flush completely from day one, or that the trapway is so heavily corroded that it is prohibiting toilet paper from going down like it should. Interestlingly enough, the toilet does not have a syphon jet at the bottom of the toilet bowl where as I thought most toilets did.

    Thank you all for your advice. I'll probably have to replace it in the new future.

  5. #5
    DIY Senior Member SteveW's Avatar
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    You may well be correct that there is a defect in manufacturing in your toilet. One thing I've learned on this site is that when toilets are formed from clay, sometimes the clay "slumps" in the trapway, causing it to be narrower than normal.

    It seems to me from what I've read that Toto somehow seems to have a manufacturing process which prevents that slumping of the wet clay, more than some other manufacturers. I do know that I plan to replace our powder room toilet with a Toto Aquia one of these days.

  6. #6

    Default It's just a bad toilet

    Hi Everyone

    Thank you for all of the advice that you gave me to try to cure my ailing handicapped toilet. Last week, the wax seal on the toilet eventually failed and I pulled the toilet off, cleaned it up really good, and reinstalled it.

    I think I found out why it was flushing so slow. The trapway makes a 90 degree bend that goes straight up about 5 inches from the bottom of the bowl drain. After that, the trapway drops off vertically at the back of the bowl. I found this out by sticking my hand down the drain to scrub it out. With this in mind, I don't see how the toilet can effectively syphon unless the bowl was filled up to the rim with water.

    The toilet is pink (matches the other fixtures in the bathroom) and when I pulled it out and had the bowl sitting on the back deck drying out, I saw that the pink finish that was fired on the bowl wasn't sprayed on evenly. There are spots of white that show through. You can only see this in direct sunlight. The bathroom doesn't have any windows, so I never noticed this before. It looks like the toilet was originally white and was sprayed pink at the last minute.

    The toilet was reinstalled, and still flushes quite slow. Sometimes it requires a second flush. It will soon be replaced.

    Needless to say, I'm very dissappointed with Kohler. When we remodeled this bathroom back in 1990, everyone said that Kohler was the best. The toilet was very expensive back then and this was a special order product that came directly from the Kohler Company. I will never buy a Kohler product again.

    Anyway, I thank everyone for giving me advice as to what to do with this toilet. I've learned a lot by reading through the forums.

  7. #7
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Kohler seems to be more into making things look pretty than making them work really well. Some of the stuff they make is solid, but that doesn't mean it will work properly. You can only live on a brand name for so long, but unlike cars, you don't buy a new toilet that often and when they don't keep up, it is too late. That is why independent reviews are so important.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  8. #8
    Homeowner geniescience's Avatar
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    yes it is good to keep self censorship at a real low level, so that reviews, comments and responses to queries correspond / correlate well with reality. Self-censoring occurs when a sponsor is good to you. Ultimately no-one is ever perfectly objective, but it is possible to run a fair site keeping this in mind.

    david

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