Return to the Plumbing Forum | Post a Follow-Up

toilet acts like it is clogged but is not???

Posted by shannon01 (My Page) on
Mon, Mar 9, 09 at 10:11

Ok. So tank is full to same level as other toilet in house. When it is flushed the water enters toilet to do it's thing. But it fills really high while swirling and swirling. It swirls and swirls and when water is out of tank it finally starts to leave bowl while swirling. The water drains bowl completely and makes that chugging noise as there is only a cup or so left in bowl. Then tank proceeds to fill back up to normal level. I have watched the other toilet in house and cannot figure out why this is happening. These are low flow toilets and are always a pain to begin with. This one clogs daily and has always been like this. Could prior owners kid have dropped a toy down there or something? We use plunger and it still does this. We have lived here five years. It is an upstairs bath. Any ideas would be appreciated.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: toilet acts like it is clogged but is not???

I had one like that. Is yours from the mid 80's?
I pulled it and used a sledge hammer on it. I bought a Toto and cut my losses. Best thing I ever did.

RE: toilet acts like it is clogged but is not???

could be something in it or the line, could be a vent issue. when our septic field floods due to high ground water from winter storms, the toilet in our MB does the exact same thing. it is caused by the standing water in teh pipe getting higher than teh vent coming off it. thus the toilet vents itself by sucking all teh water out of it. best bet would be to pull teh toilet and find the issue.

in my case i can't do anything about it in the house. i have to regrade the lawn to hopefully divert water away from teh field.

RE: toilet acts like it is clogged but is not???

Basically there are only two possible problems with toilets that do not flush properly. Either the bowl contents cannot leave fast enough- due to clogs in the trapway or beyond - or the water in the tank does not get to the bowl fast enough. Your description seems to indicate the latter problem. Next time the toilet needs flushing, use a 5 gallon bucket full of water. Pour that into the bowl as quickly as possible without overflowing the bowl. If it flushes properly, the problem is slow flow from the tank. Simple process of elimination, pun intended.

RE: toilet acts like it is clogged but is not???

Something is stuck in the toilet, most likely where it meets the floor (that hole is smaller than folks realize). Probably something got accidentally flushed (toy, razor, etc). We had it happen (to your exact "glug glug" description), and someone had flushed a plastic razor cradle instead of retrieving it (but they wouldn't admit it, of course). I had to pull the toilet, run a drain drake backward through the toilet to remove it through the bowl. It was a messy job and a "learning lesson" for the household.


One more thing, if it IS a foreign object (as I suspect), a toilet auger will be of little or no help. Unfortunately you will have to lift the toilet to see what it is. (Looking on the bright side of all this, at least it will then be retrievable and not stuck further down in your drain line.)

Let us know what it turns out to be. Good luck. Be sure to put some plastic down where you'll be working since you'll probably have some messy "spillage".

RE: toilet acts like it is clogged but is not???

I agree wholeheartedly with Buss Driver, from your description it sounds like the water is entering the bowl too slowly.

The question then becomes, What is the cause and how do we correct it?

1.Check the length of the chain from the flush handle to the flapper valve. If the chain is too long the flapper will lift slowly causing a sluggish flush such as you describe. Properly there should only be 2-3 chain links of slack in the chain when the flush handle is in the at rest position.

2.If the length of the chain is correct, make sure the chain is connected on the end of the flush handle rod. This will insure a more rapid lift.

3.If adjusting the chain does not resolve the problem use a small hand mirror and inspect the holes under the rim of the bowl where the water enters the bowl. Quite often we find that many of the holes are obstructed with debris or mineral scale. If the problem is mineral scale you may have some success by putting "lime Away" in the tank water and flushing it through. This may require two or three repeats to regain full flow. Another method is to use a small diameter drill bit, and turning by hand you can open each hole around the rim.

RE: toilet acts like it is clogged but is not???

Still, with all due respect, I had this exact problem.

Easier to test flush by pouring a bucket of water into the bowl. If you still get the "glug glug", then pull the toilet and look inside/underneath. I'll bet a dollar that you find a surprise object in there.

RE: toilet acts like it is clogged but is not???

Bus Driver is right that those are the two basic problems, but I think that you will find your missing cell phone.

I think there's something stuck in the trap that is causing the clog.

RE: toilet acts like it is clogged but is not???

I think you may have missed the real problem: the jet/hole shooting water toward the back of the toilet to get the siphon started sooner. I cleaned mine out and fixed it nicely.
Here's how
0. clean your toilet if you need to, this involves putting your hand in the bowl
1. turn off the water supply to the tank
2. flush, holding down so the tank and water level in bowl get as low as possible
3. if you want, use rubber gloves, take a screwdriver (medium shaft length, as short a handle as possible) and poke it into the little hole (towards the front of the toilet), scraping off as much of the scale as you can. Voila.
While you're at it, you may want to see if any scale has built up on the underside of the rim as well, and of course you can use your screwdriver or a pumice cleaner to get any scale off the bottom of the bowl into the siphon itself.
4. clean up & done

RE: toilet acts like it is clogged but is not???

One other thing is that you may have a foreign object that can be reached. For example, my daughter called a couple of weeks ago and said: I dropped my comb in the toilet just as I was flushing it and now the toilet doesn't work properly. I had her put on a latex glove and fish around with her hand and she was able to reach the comb stuck in the first bend and retrieve it. You may want to try this first before pulling the toilet.

RE: toilet acts like it is clogged but is not???

Most likely is an object in the toilets trap.

Even a small object can collect enough paper debris to make a larger clog.

Poor flushing can also be caused by a clogged vent.

The water cannot exit the bowl if it cannot displace the air in the line.

RE: toilet acts like it is clogged but is not???

My question of this kinda thing was solved when I lifted the toilet and found the lid from a baby food bottle neatly wedged in the trap. If stuff came in at one angle the thing would stay open, but if it came in from the other it would close. So sometimes you had the problem and sometimes you didn't. A tidy little butterfly valve, and just the right size.

Try the bucket test, but expect to pull the throne. It ain't that bad and answers a lot of questions.

Good luck,


 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!

Return to the Plumbing Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Please review our Rules of Play before posting.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.

Learn more about in-text links on this page here