Contending with a Slow Draining Toilet is a Matter of Expertise

June 28, 2024

Slow draining toilets may be a superficial inconvenience, but they may mark larger problems. Working through the different fixes, from least to most involved, will typically help you diagnose the problem and get it fixed. Most of the quicker fixes are DIY. If you find yourself moving past your DIY comfort zone, or simply getting tired of moving through the different steps, you can call on us and have a service tech pick up wherever you’ve left off.

Possible Causes and Possible Solutions

Some Slow Draining Toilets Have Easy Fixes

If your toilet doesn’t fill up all the way, the water pressure from the tank isn’t sufficient to make the toilet drain rapidly.

One common problem is a worn out flapper. Look in the tank. The flapper is that plastic or rubber seal over the drain through which the water flows from the tank to the bowl when you flush the toilet. When that wears out, and over time they do, it loses its ability to seal the drain where the tank empties into the bowl. A new flapper is a quick fix. Take the old one out. Get the same one from the hardware store. Put it back right where the old one was. Often, a new seal will also stop a constantly running toilet.

Another occasional contributor to low water pressure in a toilet is jet holes clogged with mineral deposits. This is an easy fix, but be warned. It is a tedious one. Various solvents, your favorite hardware store should have a few to choose from, work well. Generally, the instructions will tell you to make sure the rim of the bowl is dry, to apply the solvent to the jet holes and wait. After several minutes, the solvent will have loosened the sediment. Take a small too, preferably plastic so you don’t scratch the porcelain, and clean out the loosened sediment from each of the jet holes. Like we said, it is tedious, but often effective.

Next Level Slow Draining Toilet DIY — Or Maybe Call Us and Relax

The next possible fixes for a slow draining toilet get more advanced than before. If your own labors in the earlier, simpler stages of dealing with a slow draining toilet didn’t fix the problem, or didn’t fix it fully, it may be time for something more advanced.

Your slow drain DIY skills may be sufficient for the next steps, but you may feel you’ve earned a break. At any point along the way, you’re fine calling us in for the rest of the job. These other possible slow-draining toilet fixes get more advanced.

A Damaged Fill Tube or Fill Valve Can Be the Cause

The fill tube is a small rubber or plastic hose, about ⅜” in diameter, and it carries water from the fill valve to the overflow tube. The one that the little hose is clipped to is the overflow tube. The fill valve, on the other end of that narrow tube, determines when the tank is full. A worn fill tube or fill valve will not fill the tank to capacity or will fill it slowly. A fill valve or tube that doesn’t put the right amount of water in the tank or fills too slowly will fill the bowl with too little water to generate the water pressure needed to force everything down smoothly and quickly.

This could have gone a little higher up, under water pressure problems, but here we’re looking for worn parts possibly in need of replacement. That raises things up a half notch when deciding whether to DIY your slow draining toilet. If you decide to replace it, treat it just like the flapper you replaced a few paragraphs ago. Take the assembly out of the tank. Take it to the hardware store to be assured of replacing it with the same one, and follow the instructions on the package.

Hairline Cracks in the Bowl Can Also Cause Problems

This rare problem will sometimes make your toilet drain slowly. This problem, and the fix to it, also requires a new bowl and a lot of heavy lifting. Bring a friend. Here’s where a cracked toilet bowl can lead to a slow draining toilet. Cracks in the bowl are often not big enough for you to see them easily but can still be advanced enough to leak water from the bowl. There cracks allow the water that fills the bowl during a flush to leak out during the flush and seep through the cracks. That means less water going to force drainage.

It’s unlikely, but look at the area around the floor where the toilet is bolted in place. Look for signs of puddling or pooling of toilet water, not easily explained by some other cause, in that area. That can indicate those hairline cracks in the bowl.

With a strong back and a friend, you’re in with a chance, but you may just prefer to spare your back and enjoy your friend’s company. Picking up the telephone is much easier and more efficient. Also, it’s rare for hairline cracks in the bowl to cause a slow draining toilet. You certainly don’t want the effort and the expense of replacing something like that only to find out it isn’t the culprit.

More Advanced Causes of a Slow Draining Toilet

A blocked sewer line vent can make a toilet drain slowly. Vent lines allow air to enter the plumbing system, equalizing pressure with water and preventing the formation of vacuums in the sewer line. If you hear a gurgling sound, the air and water are most likely out of balance, and the vent line is clogged. If, and this is a really advanced case, you detect the odor of (there is no polite way to say it) sewage coming from the toilet, that is another strong indicator of a blocked vent line. With skill, the right tools and an industrious spirit, you may be able to defeat this problem, but fixing it correctly and completely is an involved task. You may just want to call our number.

Likewise, the pipes to your sewer or septic system can become partially clogged over time. This can compromise your toilet’s otherwise fast drainage. Remember, almost nothing labeled “flushable” really is. If you’ve gotten into the habit of flushing anything besides toilet paper, that build-up could be the reason for slow drainage. Other things happen over time to cause slow drainage at septic and sewer lines. Tree roots sometimes choke off the lines, contributing to slow drainage. As with a blocked vent line, determining the cause and dealing with it forthrightly takes time, tools and talent. If you have those, you may want to pursue tackling this yourself. Otherwise, this problem’s most efficient solution may be for you to let us tackle it, knowing the problem will be dealt with efficiently and correctly at every stage.

Expertise Can Shorten Lots of Steps

There are potentially a lot of steps to work though with a slow draining toilet, especially if you find yourself trudging through several of them only to discover none of the steps you worked through was your plumbing problem solution.

While DIY can be satisfying, a little professional expertise finds the problem (and, more importantly, the solution to the problem) faster. That’s especially true with plumbing problems like slow draining toilets — problems that could be the result of any number of factors gone wrong. If you find the work enjoyable, pursue any of the steps you’re comfortable with. If not, or if you exceed your comfort and tolerance zone, our expertise gets to the problem faster. We keep you from having to make educated guesses, and we save you extra hassle. That’s true for every aspect of residential plumbing, just as it is for any slow draining toilet.

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