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Thread: constant clogs in two toliets

  1. #1
    DIY Member trw888's Avatar
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    Default constant clogs in two toliets

    Iíve got two toilets in two different bathrooms that constantly clog up when anyone goes number 2. I can usually unclog them with a plunger, but oftentimes thatís not enough and I have to use a closet auger. Iíve poured a five gallon bucket of water down each of them and they both flushed normally. One is a Kohler and one is a Gerber. Both are 1.6 gallons. I donít know how old either one is. They were in the house when we bought it 5 years ago. This problem has slowly getting worse over time.

    I know Iím going to have to pull each of them and make sure theyíre not clogged with something. I know this could be coincidence, and itís possible they each could have separate problems. It just seems so odd that itís both of them. Has anyone heard of this before? Is it possible there could be a separate issue that is causing this to happen? Venting problem, maybe?

    Iím on a city sewer system. The house is on a slab and was built in 1952. The main line backed up a year ago. A plumber snaked it out successfully. A floor drain in one of the showers backed up about three months ago. A plumber snaked it out successfully as well, but he was quite surprised at how far down the snake had to go, but it hit the clog. Iíve been told that the plumbing in this era house is terrible, especially in the bathrooms.

    Iím pretty much of a novice. Any ideas?
    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    If there is something caught in the toilet, it can pass water, but solids get caught up on it. Things like a pen, pencil, toy, tampon, etc. can get caught in the trapway, but not let solids pass by, especially when augmented with a wad of paper. Often, that sort of thing can be caught and removed with a closet auger, but not always. If other fixtures are backing up, then there may be a clog further down the line. If the pipes are not sloped properly, have a dip (belly) or possibly broken or with roots growing in them, then that needs to be address. The toilets themselves may not be the greatest performers. On some, it is fairly easy to see the path...if it has sharp bends in it, it is more prone for clogs. The use of offset flanges can create problems as well. So, you may want to pull the toilets and check carefully. To assess the overall health of the drain system, you may want to consider having a plumber run a camera down the line and give you a copy of the video, if you decide to have someone else bid on any work or offer another opinion.
    Jim DeBruycker
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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    Since you have two toilets and a shower that back up, I would lean toward suspecting a clog in the main sewer line with something like Jim suggests in his reply. A real plumber with a camera would be my advice, too.

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    DIY Member trw888's Avatar
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    Thanks guys. I really appreciate it. So, just to be clear, the main line clog was almost to the street. The shower clog was easily 30 feet down the line as well. So, you think it's still possible that it's a sewer line problem even if I can always clear the toilet clogs with either a plunger or 3' closet auger? I was thinking the problem would be either the toilets themselves or just below them. I guess I won't know if sure until I pull them and/or get a camera down there.

  5. #5
    Master Plumber Redwood's Avatar
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    You probably just have a couple of real junk toilets tha didn't flush worth a damn when they were new and are even worse now.

    If you could grab some numbers off the inside of the tank we might be able to look them up on some of the older MaP Reports.

    I'm 90% sure that is what you will find.

  6. #6
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    The further from the toilet the clog is, the more water and sewage you'd have to run before the toilet would back up. Often, it isn't a total blockage, and by the time you try to clear it out, that main clog has drained off some, and the toilet can be cleared. The only way to know is to check it with a camera. Sometimes, a skilled operator can tell you some stuff by how the snake moves, but the camera is the definitive answer. Unfortuneately, you may not like what you see.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    Unless you have water backing up in the shower, it's 90% sure to be the builder grade fixtures.
    I had a gravity Gerber in my home for two weeks, it was not a good thing.

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    DIY Member trw888's Avatar
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    Redwood,

    The numbers inside the Gerber are K-1-15-971. The tank on the Kohler isn't original so no use in giving you those numbers.

    Sounds like I maybe in the market for new toilets. I may take jadnashua's advice as well. We've had so many plumbing issues in this house that getting a camera down the line could be a good idea.

    Thanks again.

  9. #9
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    Well, it's for sure you don't have a top quality toilet. That may or may not be all of your problem, but a couple of Toto Drakes would be a smart move.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by trw888 View Post
    ...snip... even if I can always clear the toilet clogs with either a plunger or 3' closet auger? I was thinking the problem would be either the toilets themselves or just below them.
    That problem sure sounds like a pencil or pen stuck in the toilet's trap. It happened to one of our toilets and drove me nuts for a couple of weeks. The auger clears the paper and allows the toilet to flush properly. Just doing #1's, the toilet always flushes fine. Doing #2's, the paper hangs up on the pencil and slowly clogs until an auger is used again. Might be a pencil or pen in both toilets.

    I had removed our problem toilet twice and never saw anything in the trap from the top or the bottom. When my brother (retired plumber) told me about the pencil thing, I removed the toilet and tipped it every which way while setting it on two saw horses. Finally I saw the very tip of a bic ball point pen from the bottom of the toilet, looking up while the toilet was on the saw horses. Had to use a curved forceps to pull it out as it had bent it's way into the trap and wasn't about to fall out by itself.

    Try that and see if that's your problem with the toilets,
    HRG

  11. #11
    Master Plumber Redwood's Avatar
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    The Gerber numbers you gave had no meaning.
    The Part # for Gerber is typically ##-###

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