Three Possible Causes of Inefficient Toilet Flushing and What to Do in Each Case
It's frustrating to flush a toilet multiple times to get the waste to drain away. Such inefficient flushing has several causes. Some of them you can handle as DIY projects while others require the intervention of a professional plumber. Here are some of the common causes of such inefficiency:
Water Level Too Low
Saving water is good, but it doesn't mean you should set the water level in the tank so low that it interferes with the flushing. This is what will happen if you adjust the inlet valve float so that the valve turns off before there is appreciable water in the tank. Unfortunately, water at a low level may not have the strength to flush the toilet on the first try. In the end, you may even use more water by flushing multiple times.
Adjusting the inlet valve float to allow more water into the tank helps. If you want to save water without interfering with the flushing efficiency, put a solid object (it shouldn't float) into the tank. This will raise the water level, increase the pressure, and lead to an effective flushing with a low volume of water (it is the level and not the volume of the water that is largely responsible for efficient flushing).
Sometimes the cause of the failed flush may not be a low water pressure, but rather a blockage. For a serious blockage, the toilet may not flow at all but just fill with water. However, a more common blockage is one in which the water flows slowly and takes a long time to go down.
There are several ways of clearing blockage; here are two ways you can try without a professional plumber's help:
- Wait for the level of the water in the bowl to go down and then pour a bucket of water directly into the bowl; that should clear a small blockage.
- Bucket a little water out of the toilet, seat a plunger into the drain hole, and pump it a few times. Next, get a bucket of water and pour it quickly into the bowl.
- Insert a toilet snake into the toilet bowl and pass it through the drain hole while rotating it; that should clear the clog.
If the blockage remains, get a plumber to use his or her professional expertise to clear it. For example, he or she may need to remove the toilet fixture to reach the blockage.
At times, the problem may not even be with the toilet, but rather with the plumbing vents. Any plumbing drain needs sufficient air behind the effluent to flow properly; it is the air that provides the necessary pressure to push the waste along. A vacuum (the absence of air) slows down the flow of fluids within the drains, which is what happens if the plumbing vents are blocked. Since plumbing vents are interconnected, you may not even be aware of the area in which the blockage has occurred, so it's wise to call a plumber for the remedy.