Close up of plumber holding a large red wrench about to open a toilet tank lid.

Why Your Flush Is Failing

Are you frustrated with your toilet’s flushing system?
Do you find yourself constantly plunging or dealing with clogs?
You’re not alone.

This is a very common issue that most homeowners experience at least at some point. We understand that these are common toilet issues that can be both inconvenient and embarrassing.

But fear not. Plumbing Doctor® is here to help explore the reasons why your flush may be failing and provide a few practical solutions to these problems to help guide you to a less stressful place.

From understanding the anatomy of your toilet to troubleshooting common issues like weak flushes, clogs, and running water, Plumbing Doctor® has got you covered!

Understanding the Flushing Mechanism

To effectively troubleshoot toilet flush issues, it’s important to understand the flushing mechanism. Most modern toilets have a gravity-flush system, which relies on the force of water being released from the tank to create a siphoning effect that removes waste from the bowl.

This mechanism consists of several components, including the flush valve, fill valve, flapper, and trip lever. We will get into the further relevence of these to your system in this blog.

Lifting the lid of most toilets will expose these components described here and we will help guide you towards understanding what you are looking at and looking for.

To help clarify a little more about these components and what they do, let’s take a look at each one:

The Flush Valve

Simply put, this is the valve just inside the tank that moves water from the tank to the bowl when the toilet is flushed. It needs to open fully to allow a sufficient amount of water to enter the bowl and create a strong flush.

The Fill Valve

This controls the flow of the water in the tank and refills it after each flush. It is usually mounted on the left side of the tank and recognizable with an elongated tailpiece that extends to the bottom of the tank that attaches to a tube which runs to a fixture shutoff valve. If the fill valve is not functioning correctly, it can lead to weak flushes or incomplete refills.

The Flapper

Another important component is the flapper. This is a rubber or plastic seal that covers the flush valve opening. When the toilet is flushed, a rubber tank ball or flapper lifts out of the way, and water rushes into the bowl. After the flush, the flapper closes the flush valve to prevent water from continuously flowing into the bowl. If the flapper is worn out, this can lead to flushing issues.

Common Causes of Toilet Flush Failure

A failing flush can be caused by various factors. It’s important to note that the causes can be difficult to identify and this is a good time to reach out to a professional. We always encourage people to take maintenance and any symptoms they can identify seriously.

Anything you can describe even by phone is very helpful for when you need to reach out to a plumbing professional.

Let’s look at a few of the common culprits to help you better identify what might be the problem.

Clogged Toilet

One of the most common culprits is a clogged toilet. A clog can occur when objects or excessive amounts of toilet paper get stuck in the drain pipe, obstructing the flow of water. When this happens, the water level in the bowl rises instead of draining properly, resulting in a weak or non-existent flush.

Weak Flush

Another cause of flush failure is a weak flush. This can happen due to several reasons, including a low water level in the tank, a clogged rim feed, or a faulty flapper. If the water level in the tank is too low, there won’t be enough water to create a strong flush. Additionally, a worn-out flapper can cause water to leak, reducing the force of the flush as we mentioned before.

Running Water

Running water is a very common issue that can cause frustration and wastes water. A continuously running toilet is not only annoying but can also increase your water bill. This problem is often caused by a faulty flapper or a malfunctioning fill valve. Most often, you can hear this issue, sometimes from another room! If this is an ongoing issue, we suggest contacting a plumbing professional to assess this situation properly before it gets worse and of course, damages more of the toilet components.

How to Fix a Weak Flush

A weak flush is always frustrating. We understand that whether your toilet is new or old, the flush is very important even with water saving features.

If you are experiencing this, we suggest checking the water level in the tank. The water level should be about one inch below the top of the overflow tube. If it’s lower than that, adjust the float or the fill valve to increase the water level.

Next, inspect the rim feed holes under the toilet bowl’s rim. These holes supply water to the rim, which helps create the swirling action needed for an effective flush. If the rim feed holes are clogged, use a small brush or a piece of wire to remove any debris and ensure the water flows freely.

You would be surprised how often a simple cleaning can help water flow and should be part of your general maintenance.

By following these steps, you will hopefully be able to improve the flushing power of your toilet and eliminate the frustration of a weak flush. If your toilet still won’t flush properly or flush at all, please contact Plumbing Doctor® so we may assist you in getting your plumbing back to functioning properly.

Preventive Measures to Avoid Toilet Flush Issues

Even if you have not experienced any of these issues, it is still very important to take preventative maintenance measures in your home. Prevention is always better than a cure, and the same applies to toilet flush issues.

By following some simple preventive measures, you can minimize the chances of encountering common toilet problems.

First, be mindful of what you flush down the toilet. Avoid flushing items that are not meant to be flushed, such as sanitary pads, diapers, paper towels, or excessive amounts of toilet paper. These items can easily cause clogs and damage your toilet’s flushing system.
Secondly, encourage everyone in your household to use a reasonable amount of toilet paper and to flush only when necessary. Excessive toilet paper usage can lead to clogs and put unnecessary strain on your toilet’s flushing mechanism.

Regular maintenance is also essential for preventing toilet flush issues. Inspect the components of your toilet, such as the flapper, fill valve, and flush valve, for signs of wear or damage. Start with regular cleaning which helps make the inspection process easier.

When to Call a Professional Plumber

Lastly, while many common toilet issues can be resolved with a few quick and easy DIY techniques, there are times when it’s best to leave the job to the professionals.

Here is a good checklist to go by when calling a professional plumber is recommended:

1. Persistent clogs that cannot be cleared with a plunger or an auger.
2. Water leaks that cannot be stopped or continue to occur.
3. Significant damage to the toilet’s flushing mechanism or internal components.
4. Unusual noises, such as gurgling or hissing, coming from the toilet.
5. Foul odors originating from the toilet or drain pipe.

A professional plumber has the knowledge, experience, and specialized tools to diagnose and fix complex toilet problems. By calling a professional, you can ensure that the issue is resolved correctly and prevent further damage to your plumbing system.

Please contact Plumbing Doctor® if you come across any of these issues or if you have other plumbing concerns. We would love to help make your experience a feel good plumbing experience!