Toilet backs up periodically-- can't find a drain blockage
26 August 2006
A. I hope you haven't spent the $500. yet. I think the problem is a combination of what was in the toilet at the time of overflow and the speed at which the flush water was delivered to the bowl. I'll explain. You have an 3.5 gallon flusher-- not one of the Federally mandated 1.6 gallon per flush models that so many complained about. They came well after yours were installed. The larger, older ones suffered less from clogs as the opening at the bottom of the bowl and tube to the sewer line are a larger diameter than the newer ones. If you think there might be a line clog then do this: take a bucket of water and pour it straight down the center of the bowl aiming at the hole in the bottom. Use about a gallo n or so. That will initiate the siphonic action that creates a flush. If the toilet completes the flush with the familiar "glug-glug" noise at the end of the flush then it's not the line. Repeat that a few times to be sure if you want to. Using the bucke t method of delivering water to the bowl is safe because you can stop pouring if you think it's not going to take it, avoiding the dreaded overflow. If it flushes each time and doesn't back up doing that then it's the toilet and not the line and I suspe ct that's what it is.
You probably have a build up of mineral deposits in the rim jets located up under the ceramic rim of the bowl which is part of the water delivery system for the flush. The slowed down delivery of the flush water in certain instances canít deliver the wat er punch needed to start the flush. Take a hand mirror and look up under the rim to see what the jet's holes look like. You'll need to aggressively clean them using brushes and even old-fashioned pipe-cleaners-- like the ones Grandpa used to clean the pipe he smoked-- to open all of the jets. Using a bottle brush, don't forget to go after the main flush orifice down near the opening of the flush tube at the bottom of the bowl, if it has one. It's a humbling task but one that's necessary from time to time to keep things operating properly. I've known folks to replace a toilet rather than have to do this but I recommend the cleaning especially if it's a good model toilet to begin with. If you want to learn more than anybody would ever want to know about the subject, take a look at www.toiletology.com/cleantoilets.shtml. By the way, the newer low-flow toilets are lots better than the originals if you get totally frustrated with this toilet.