Sometimes your mighty porcelain throne flows less like Niagara Falls and more like a lazy river. That’s a fancy way of saying your toilet has a weak flush, which can be frustrating, embarrassing, and even messy. But don’t worry because in this article, we’re here to help you fix the problem.
If you have a toilet that doesn’t fully flush, common causes include a clog in the trap, a worn-out flapper, blocked rim jets, a faulty float, or an issue with the handle and chain.
Check these areas if your toilet isn’t flushing properly
- Toilet clog – Let’s start with the most obvious explanation for a weak flush – a clog. The majority of toilet clogs occur in the trap, which is the curved channel in the toilet base that holds a small amount of water to prevent sewer gases from coming up from the drain. Because of its shape, the trap is also where toilet paper and other contents can get stuck, creating a partial or total clog. Using a trusty plunger will often dislodge and push the blockage through the trap, returning the toilet’s flushing power to normal.
- Worn-out flapper – The flapper is the round, rubber part that creates a water-tight seal in the toilet tank. When you push down the toilet handle, the flapper raises to briefly allow water to pass from the tank to the bowl, creating the flush. Over time, the flapper can wear out or become out of position, so it no longer forms a tight seal. When this happens, water can slowly leak from the tank into the bowl, so when you go to flush, there’s lower flushing power. Luckily, the flapper is easy and cheap to replace on most toilets.
- Issue with handle and chain – While you’re inspecting the flapper, also look at the toilet handle and chain to ensure that the entire mechanism is working properly. The toilet handle can become loose and require tightening. The chain, which connects the handle to the flapper, can become unclipped or set to an incorrect length. Adjust the chain so that when you press the handle, the chain pulls up the flapper to initiate a flush, and then allows the flapper to drop down and seal off the hold at the end of the flush
- Faulty float – After a flush, water will refill the toilet tank until it reaches the fill line. The float, which often looks like a plastic ball, rises with the water level, and once it reaches a certain point, it tells the refill valve to shut off. If the float is damaged, obstructed, or set too low, the tank won’t refill with enough water to produce a full flush. Adjust the float or replace it if it appears damaged.
- Clogged rim jets – When you flush the toilet, the water enters the bowl through the rim jets. These small holes around the rim of the toilet seat create a concentrated, swirling flow. If the rim jets become clogged by mineral deposits, bacteria, or other debris, it can disrupt the water flow and make your flush less effective. Giving the underside of the rim a thorough scrubbing with vinegar and a toothbrush usually solves this issue.
Call a Durham, NC, plumber to fix your toilet
A toilet with a weak flush is typically a minor plumbing issue. However, if you can’t get your toilet to flush like normal after following the above tips, then it’s time to bring the professionals.