Slow Draining Toilet? Here’s What is Going On

No, you’re not crazy, your toilet really is not working like it’s supposed to! A slow draining toilet is a common problem for many folks and there are a few potential causes for this problem. Let’s talk about it, get it fixed up sooner than later so you can stop worrying! This time on the Economy Plumbing Services blog, we’re answering what causes a slow draining toilet.

When a toilet isn’t draining correctly, it isn’t operating as effectively and efficiently as it should be. This can cause a whole mess of problems down the line (pun intended). So let’s address it now before it gets worse.

There are a number of different reasons for why your toilet might be draining or flushing slowly, not all of them terribly complex, but not all easy either. But there is always a reason. And when there’s a reason, there’s a fix.

Four Most Common Reasons for a Slow Draining Toilet

Not Enough Water

When you press the flusher on the toilet, you’re opening up a flapper that allows water to flow from the back tank into the bowl itself. This creates downward suction in the flush. If, for whatever reason, there’s not enough water in that tank it won’t create the right amount of suction.

So, what do you do?

You’ll want to make sure your tank is filling up with water, up to about an inch, an inch and a half below the drain pipe. Lower than that and your flush will be weak. You might also have low water pressure, valves that aren’t fitting correctly or assemblies that aren’t keeping a seal can all mess with the water available. If your components aren’t fitting quite right your friendly neighborhood plumber can take care of it for you! (*ahem* that’s us!)

Mineral Build-Up

Specifically mineral build-up around the ol’ jet holes! Jet holes are the holes on the underside of the toilet’s rim. During a flush, water is shot through the holes. Because of their location (underside of the toilet rim and out of sight) and their relatively small size they are easy to forget about when it comes to cleaning! Over time minerals can build up around the holes and causing a blockage, slowing down the flush.

The jet holes are the holes on the underside of your toilet’s rim. Water shoots out of the jet holes during a flush. Toilet jet holes are small and out-of-sight, which means they tend to be very easy to forget about. They’re also easy to forget to clean. If you don’t clean your toilets’ jet holes frequently enough, minerals can build-up around them. Over time, these mineral build-ups could block water flow–and slow down your flush.  

Use distilled white vinegar and a small stiff bristle toilet brush to break up the buildup around jet holes. First, spray the build-up with the white vinegar. Let the vinegar sit for thirty minutes. Then,  simply use the brush to scrub the build-up away. Make sure to wear gloves while you do this!

Flapper Valve Troubles

The flapper valve is the rubber stopper located at the bottom of the toilet bowl. It covers the passage that leads from the toilet tank to the toilet bowl. Whenever you depress the toilet handle, you’re lifting the flapper and uncovering this passage. Water flows from the tank to the bowl through the passage you’ve just uncovered, triggering the flush.

Just like everything else,  flapper valves wear out over time. If the flapper wears out, it may not be able to cover the passage between the tank and bowl. Some water will leak from the tank to the bowl constantly, which will weaken the flush. It’s relatively easy to replace a flapper yourself, or you could have your plumber do it.

And of Course… Clogged Drains

Clogged drains affect all the water-using appliances in your home, including your toilet. A backup in any pipe or drain will slow the movement of water throughout your home. The easiest way to fix this (and avoid it long term) is to invest in regular professional drain cleaning.

Clogged drains often happen when someone accidentally flushes something down a drain that they shouldn’t. Pay close attention to what you’re flushing down your drains. Don’t treat your drains like a garbage can–especially your toilets.

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