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Thread: Stubborn Toilet Requires 2 Flushes

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member Gaelic's Avatar
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    Angry Stubborn Toilet Requires 2 Flushes

    I have a ground floor two-bath 20 year old condo unit over a crawl space. The toilets are about 10' apart. The hall toilet works well, but the master bedroom toilet always requires a 2nd flush to get solid matter to go down. The first flush is lethargic, with everything moving slowly around in a lazy circle which produces little effect. A minute later, the 2nd flush is considerably more vigorous and everything goes down.

    I have talked to two different plumbers who were in on different occasions to fix other items. They looked the toilet over, but they had little to offer. I think one did try probing the entry holes with a wire or something (didn't seem to have an actual tool available for this). They didn't seem to think a new toilet would necessarily solve the problem. I believe obstruction in the pipe to the street was raised as a possible suspect, but not with much conviction. I don't see how that could be the cause if the hall toilet works OK, as does the problem toilet on that 2nd flush. All opinions welcomed. Thanks.

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    You may have an older American Standard Cadet toilet, but ANY toilet can have your symptoms. It is caused by the fill valve NOT supplying enough water into the bowl after a flush to refill it. Your first flush uses most of the water to refill the bowl and there is not enough left after that to make the flush. Once it is full, the second flush performs normally. To prove this, slowly pour water into the bowl until the water level is at its maximum, then flush the toilet.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

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    DIY Senior Member Smooky's Avatar
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    Make sure the fill tube is over the overflow.

    http://www.networx.com/article/how-t...running-toilet

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    DIY Junior Member Gaelic's Avatar
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    Question Better, but no brass ring...

    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post
    To prove this, slowly pour water into the bowl until the water level is at its maximum, then flush the toilet.
    OK.The water level was approx 1/2" below the top of the pipe, so I poured additional water into the tank yesterday. By this morning it had gone down to where it was yesterday, so I assume that means the flapper isn't seating quite right or is worn?

    I filled it up again and followed with a real world test. It flushed better, but did not swirl vigorously and about half the solid stuff remained. On the second flush [I did not pour extra water into tank] I noticed that it built up a good swirling motion before half the tank is empty... which leads me to believe that extra water isn't the solution, but something different happens between the first and second flush. Any other suggestions?

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    DIY Senior Member Reach4's Avatar
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    Note that there are two levels being discussed here: bowl and tank.

    Regarding "so I assume that means the flapper isn't seating quite right or is worn? " that would depend... It would be normal to have the water level maybe 1/2 inch below the overflow. That will be a setting of the tank float valve. If you lose signifiant water from the refill level overnight, then your flapper or seat would be the problem. So I would think you want to record the two levels before the flushes to see if they correlate with the flush vigor.

    I am following this with interest.

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    You're not quite getting this...when you flush, the refill valve does two things: refills the tank, AND refills the bowl. If EITHER of those are not full to their design depths, the toilet may not flush properly. The factory refill valve likely did a good job of refilling both properly, but some aftermarket ones do NOT!

    As stated already, both the BOWL AND THE TANK must be properly filled. So, the tank level dropping over time is one issue (usually the flapper valve), but to test that the BOWL is properly filled, you need to SLOWLY add some water to it until the level stops rising. Also note that it can take a few seconds-minute or so for the bowl level to stabilize. Once you reach the level it won't go up and stabilizes, THAT'S the full level, and the bowl MUST be refilled to that level to produce a proper flush.

    If it doesn't get refilled properly, you need a different refill valve that has the balance right (some are adjustable) so that just as the tank is filled, it is finished refilling the bowl. As to the tank level, most have some sort of mark in the tank, but if it doesn't, about 1/2" or so from the top of the overflow tube is usually correct. That level is adjustable, the amount that goes to the bowl, often is not, and is based on the size of the opening to the hose that goes to the overflow to fill the bowl.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
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    DIY Junior Member Gaelic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jadnashua View Post
    As stated already, both the BOWL AND THE TANK must be properly filled. So, the tank level dropping over time is one issue (usually the flapper valve), but to test that the BOWL is properly filled, you need to SLOWLY add some water to it until the level stops rising. Also note that it can take a few seconds-minute or so for the bowl level to stabilize. Once you reach the level it won't go up and stabilizes, THAT'S the full level, and the bowl MUST be refilled to that level to produce a proper flush.

    If it doesn't get refilled properly, you need a different refill valve that has the balance right (some are adjustable) so that just as the tank is filled, it is finished refilling the bowl. As to the tank level, most have some sort of mark in the tank, but if it doesn't, about 1/2" or so from the top of the overflow tube is usually correct. That level is adjustable, the amount that goes to the bowl, often is not, and is based on the size of the opening to the hose that goes to the overflow to fill the bowl.
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    Looks to me like the tank level is right on the line. I added water to the bowl, but it does not appear to rise at all.

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    DIY Senior Member Reach4's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gaelic View Post
    Looks to me like the tank level is right on the line. I added water to the bowl, but it does not appear to rise at all.
    When you are in that situation, do you get a lazy flush, or a good flush? Check those levels tomorrow before the first flush.

    Your pull string seems odd. I was concerned that it might get caught under the flapper, but I guess it does not. I would possibly take some slack out of that while still leaving some slack.

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    DIY Junior Member Gaelic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Reach4 View Post
    When you are in that situation, do you get a lazy flush, or a good flush? Check those levels tomorrow before the first flush.
    The only time I get a vigorous whirlpool action is on the second flush. I will take some slack out of the string.

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    You do NOT put the extra water into the tank. That would accomplish NOTHING. You pour it slowly into the toilet BOWL until it is as high as it is going to be. THEN, immediately flush the toilet, not the next day. If the flapper were leaking you would not have the problem.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

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    DIY Junior Member Gaelic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post
    You do NOT put the extra water into the tank. That would accomplish NOTHING.
    OK. Since I noticed that the water seems to be right at the mark on the tank, I had no intention of adding any more there.
    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post
    You pour it slowly into the toilet BOWL until it is as high as it is going to be. THEN, immediately flush the toilet, not the next day. If the flapper were leaking you would not have the problem.
    Well, as I have written - when I tried adding water in the bowl the water level did not go up. It maintained the level I found it at. I can't force it to go higher, can I?
    Last edited by Gaelic; 10-05-2013 at 04:20 PM. Reason: made more specific

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    DIY Junior Member Gaelic's Avatar
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    OK, looks like this one has lost interest... but maybe someone might yet take a stab at my question above and the follow-up:
    If there isn't enough water in the bowl, can this be corrected?
    Or does it mean a new toilet is the only option?
    Thanks to all.

  13. #13
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    Water level in a toilet bowl is determined by the weir that is part of the built-in trap. A weir is like a dam and it can not be changed. If the toilet is as old as the house, it is likely an early low flow toilet. These early models were fraught with problems. They gave low flow a bad name because they were so bad. If your toilet is one of these old timers, it wouldn't be a bad idea to get a new one. Newer models have been redesigned and function much better. The leading manufacturer is Toto.

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    DIY Senior Member Reach4's Avatar
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    I have not lost interest, because I am interested in the cause in your case. Since you wrote "when I tried adding water in the bowl the water level did not go up.", you will not be able to raise the level of the water in your bowl with that toilet.

    I hesitate to say this, but I wonder if there is something about your plumbing that could cause your symptom, such as a vent problem, wax ring admitting air, partial blockage in sewer. I don't have an explanation of how any of those would cause your symptom. Well, I have a partial idea that you somehow get a better siphon action on your second flush. But I just can't come up with a model that would explain this. Yet you do have the symptom and you have eliminated bowl and tank water levels as the cause. Why is the second flush more productive?

    A new toilet is probably your best option, but I was hoping somebody could solve the mystery.

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    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    does it mean a new toilet is the only option?
    You may have something in the trapway slowing down the siphon.
    Pull the bowl and run and auger from the bottom, and reset.

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