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Thread: lost siphon i.e. no whirlpool

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member archibald tuttle's Avatar
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    Default lost siphon i.e. no whirlpool

    25 year old early gravity watersaver. think its a gerber. at the inlaws. I've noticed it year after year at christmas time. flush repeatedly. never get a whirlpool or evidence of good siphon. and plenty of unevacuated matter even after flushing several times.

    so I figured, bad seal at the wax ring and replaced it. no dice.

    and here's the symptom I discovered by accident that continues to mystify me.

    if you tip the handle lightly for 5-10 seconds and let a trickle of water out of the tank into the bowl, and then pull the handle all the way, the thing flushes like a champ every time.

    Makes me wish the thing were clear plastic and had tappings to measure vaccuum at several points so I could see what was going on. I just cannot understand how trickling a small bit of water over the weir can make a toilet that won't flush worth a damn form a standing start flush perfectly, but I'm thinking somebody out there might have some idea.

    talk amongst yourselves.

    brian

  2. #2
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Default

    Toilets are very sensitive to the water level where they start out...most of the older ones overfilled the bowl but if the fill valve was replaced and not adjusted properly, the tank water level and bowl water levels may not be correct. A quick and easy experiment would be to first note where the water level was in the bowl then SLOWLY pour some water into the bowl. If after a delay, the level is now higher, the bowl is not starting out full, and that you add brings it up to full (the tank would be refilling to replenish that water), and then when you flush, it is starting with the full level.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  3. #3
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    wax seals have little, if anything, to do with the flushing. You are NOT starting the flush with enough water in the bowl, so the first flush, (or you running some water into the bowl), has to restore the water level, then the second one WILL flush properly. It was a common problem with some of the old American Standard toilets, which yours might be if you are unsure of the brand. How about a picture of the inside of the tank so we can see if we can tell why it is happening.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

  4. #4
    DIY Junior Member archibald tuttle's Avatar
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    Default water level

    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post
    wax seals have little, if anything, to do with the flushing. You are NOT starting the flush with enough water in the bowl, so the first flush, (or you running some water into the bowl), has to restore the water level, then the second one WILL flush properly. It was a common problem with some of the old American Standard toilets, which yours might be if you are unsure of the brand. How about a picture of the inside of the tank so we can see if we can tell why it is happening.
    got it. next time I'm there I'm going to mark the level carefully. Obviously, the amount I'm trickling in is quite small and I don't notice a change in level visually but there might be a quarter or half inch change I'm not observing, given my casual approach, that makes a whirled of difference. Maybe I can dry the bowl and graduate the relevant area around the water surface with a sharpie at short intervals and establish just where the weir is.

    I always thought -- or that is to say, upon reflection didn't think to hard -- that the refill was oriented marginally to flushing and functionally to closing the trap. But as I think harder about it, dawn breaks. It takes barely any water to close the trap but much more to fill to the trap weir which would mean that any water added at flushing goes right to creating the siphon. So I haven't allotted as much attention to water level as I should have. Thanks much for the tips. I won't get a chance to report victory until my next visit, but I'm going to keep water level check on the list of my first things to do on a visit.

    brian

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