In the fast-paced world of today, every minute counts. There’s not a second to spare doing anything less than completely worthwhile because there’s just so much to see and so much to do. The last thing you want to spend your valuable time on is waiting on a toilet to flush to make sure it actually flushes. Sure, the first couple of times it might not seem like a big deal, but over time, those extra seconds will build to an aggravating part of your day. Thankfully, there are a couple of ways to speed up a slow toilet so that you can get your time back.
Understanding How a Toilet Works
To understand how to fix a toilet, it is helpful to first understand how they function. Essentially, toilets work using the simple natural law of gravity. Water is stored in the tank located at the top of your toilet, and when you flush, the plug opens to allow the water from the tank to flow into the basin. The water then travels down into the drain and out through your sewer line. Throughout the entire process, water flows from a higher position to a lower position as it harnesses the power of gravity.
If Flushing Uses Gravity, Why Is My Toilet Slow?
There are a number of issues that can result in a slow toilet, including a clog, failing part, or problem with your water line. Each issue will show up differently and will also have different solutions. Here’s an overview of some of the most common issues.
Diagnosing and Solving a Clog
Clogs and blockages are the most common cause of a slow toilet since there are several parts of the toilet that can become clogged. One of the most common places for a clog to happen is in the S-trap. The S-trap is the S-shaped pipe that is attached just below the toilet bowl. Too much debris or waste can cause this area to become clogged. Typically, the culprit is too much toilet paper.
Many individuals use way more toilet paper than their plumbing system can handle. This is especially true with older homes. The problem is often that people overestimate the dissolvability of toilet paper. Toilet paper is designed to dissolve in water, but it can actually leave behind a sticky residue which can lead to the clog.
To solve the clog, a plunger will generally do the trick. If your toilet bowl is full, make sure you remove all but about 2-inches of water before plunging the toilet to prevent water from getting onto the floor. Place the plunger over the drain and pump up and down very quickly. This should help the clog dislodge and make your slow toilet fast again.
Part Failures That Can Cause a Slow Toilet
Damaged Fill Valve
The fill valve is in charge of refilling the tank at the end of each flush. Any issue with the fill valve will be very noticeable as the water continues to run. It can also lead to an increase in water usage and water bill. The most common problem with the fill valve is that it is old and worn out, so the best solution is typically to simply replace it.
To replace the fill valve, you will need to turn off the water supply to your toilet. Next, open the tank and flush to remove the excess water from the tank. After this, disconnect the water hose from the fill valve. You will need to unscrew the nut that connects the hose and the fill valve and then replace it with a new fill valve and reconnect the hose to the fill valve. Finally, turn your water supply back on and flush.
Blocked Jet Holes
When you flush your toilet, fast-moving streams of water fill the toilet bowl; that water comes from the tiny jet holes that are located on the underside of the rim of your toilet. These need to be cleaned routinely to remove debris and hard water minerals, or they will become blocked.
To clean, first take a small mirror and look for bacteria growth. It will look like black spots or dark orange spots. In contrast, mineral deposits will be scaly and lighter. To remove bacteria growth, you will need to use a bleach cleaning solution. Use 1 part bleach to every 10 parts of water. Pour it into your toilet tank’s overflow tube. Wait for ten minutes then flush. Next, clean out the holes using a mirror and a piece of wire. Make sure you follow this up by cleaning the underside of your toilet rim with toilet cleaner. Repeat this process as needed
In order to remove mineral deposits, heat 12 ounces of vinegar to 120 degrees. Pour it into the overflow tube and wait an hour, then clean out the jet using a mirror and a wire. Flush and repeat the process as needed. Make sure to clean the underside of the toilet lip using toilet cleaner.
An Older Toilet Is the Culprit
If you have an older toilet, then it’s likely already taken a lot of wear and tear. That means the issue could be with one of many parts, and may in fact be caused by many different parts at the same time. In this case, rather than shelling out a lot of money for all the replacement parts and services, you’d probably be better off replacing your toilet outright.
Water Issues That Cause a Slow Toilet
If there isn’t enough water in the tank, your toilet’s flushing power will be greatly reduced. In this way, an insufficient amount of water causes a slow toilet. For reference, the water level in the tank should be about ½ inch below the overflow tube. To fix this issue, simply fill a bucket with water and pour it into the tank; just make sure you don’t pour water into the overflow tube. Once you have filled your tank with the right amount of water, try a couple of test flushes.
Hard water buildup can also lead to a slow toilet. Hard water has a lot of dissolved minerals, such as calcium and magnesium. These minerals can build up on the inside of your pipes, making the inside of the pipe smaller and smaller which restricts the water flow. To remedy hard water mineral buildup in your pipes, you will need an experienced plumber to help you remove the blockages and clean out your pipes.
Don’t Waste Time With a Slow Toilet
When you fondly remember some of your favorite memories, you’ll likely be thinking of fun adventures and proud milestones and cherished times with friends and family. You should be spending as much of your time as possible making those kinds of memories; don’t waste it waiting for a slow toilet to flush. Our experienced team at HEB Plumbing & Sprinkler is here to help you get the most out of your pipes so that you can live your life to the fullest. We’re happy to help with all your plumbing needs, so make sure to give us a call to schedule an appointment today!