Before you spend a fortune in having a plumber come out to your home, here are a few helpful suggestions for what you can do if you have a toilet that doesn’t flush properly.
If the flush system is not working then check if there is a problem with:
- Your handle is not connected to the flushing mechanism in the cistern.
- The flush diaphragm is split.
A cistern allows water in through a valve located just inside the cistern. There are twp main types of valve. One, the most common, is the ball valve. The second, ever more widely used is the quieter Torbeck valve. Both operate on the same principle. The water inlet is controlled by a valve which is opened and closed by a lever. The lever or “Float arm” is raised and lowered by the water in the cistern (this is exactly the same system as that used in cold water tanks in most lofts).
Once the water is in the cistern, a flushing mechanism lets it out again. The most popular flushing mechanism is the toilet siphon. The handle is attached, via a wire, to the top of the flush siphon. When the lever is depressed, or the chain pulled, the flush diaphragm is pulled upwards on the diaphragm frame. Because of the frame underneath the flush diaphragm the water cannot escape and is drawn up and over into the flush pipe where it runs straight into the toilet bowl. If the flush diaphragm is split however, the pressure of the water as the diaphragm is drawn up the chamber, simply pushes through the split and does not allow any resistance. The more you flush, the bigger the split gets. Time to change the diaphragm!
A split diaphragm can be replaced by turning off the water to the cistern, flushing the toilet and soaking up any remaining water with a sponge. Once the cistern is empty, unclip the connection between the handle arm and the flush unit .. Release the back nut under the cistern and pull the flush unit clear. Unclip the bottom half of the connection clip and pull out the frame which holds the diaphragm. (There may be a spring over the central dowel, don’t forget to return this when re-assembling) Unclip and slide off the diaphragm, replace and re-assemble.
An inoperable toilet can be caused my a number of different things. Roots or other foreign objects in your main line, a full septic tank if you have one, calcium build up in the opening of the toilet, or even the matchbox car that your son wanted to see float.
If your toilet does not flush properly, try these steps in the given order.
1.) Get a plunger and make sure that there isn’t anything right there that may be blocking the flow. If nothing pops out and the bowl water is clean, Otherwise grab 2 bottles of CLR. I reccomend doing this at night before bed so that the gasses will have time to work thier magic. Take the forst bottle and pour it dorectly into the bowl and flush. Turn off the water to the toilet. Then take the second bottle and pour it directly into the bowl. Cover the bowl with saran wrap and lower the seat and lid so that the gasses are contained. In the morning, remove the saran wrap, turn the water back on, and flush again. Beware the chemical smell will be strong. If that doesn’t fix the problem, keep going.
2.) Purchase a toilet snake from a local hardware store. Try and see if there is anything blocking further in out of your reach. If you can’t get the snake to go all the way through, and it is not pulling anything out when you retract the snake, then you may need to remove the toilet from the floor and look from the other end. Make sure that you turn the water off before you do that though.
3.) Once you remove the toilet you will be able to see if there is anything blocking the inside of the toilet. If there is nothing visable, then stick your hand up the opening to be sure. Now that you have done that, look at the pipe in the floor. You should NOT be looking at standing water. If that is the case, try running the snake directly into the hose and see if you are able to remove anything.
4.)If you have a septic tank you may want to go out into the yard with that trusty shovel of yours and remove the lid to your septic tank. Once you remove the lid, your sewage should be no more than 2 feet from the top of the tank. If you think it’s a close call, it’s time to call the septic tank people and have them pump your tank.
Despite what everyone says, how often your tank needs to be pumped depends on the size of the tank, when it was last pumped and the number of people using the toilets on a regular basis. The more it is used, the more often it should be pumped.
5.) If nothing has worked call the plumber.