Plumbing in the Home/Toilet flushing problem

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Question
View of tank inside
View of tank inside  

Detail of toilet model
Detail of toilet model  
Hi,  we have TOTO 2 piece toilet with 1.6 gallon flush.  It is at least 8 years old as it came in the house when we purchased it.  We are on city water.  The toilet has worked just fine until a week or 2 ago when it started to be "sluggish" in response to our attempt to flush.  When I opened the tank I found that the flapper was opening only upon strain on the tank lever which was plastic.  I replaced that the tank lever with a metal one, but it only bent when we attempted to flush.  Upon further inspection I discovered that there seemed to be significant suction or vacuum holding the flapper closed when I opened it more directly by pulling the chain.  I found no evidence of leaking water anywhere.  I removed the flapper and cleaned it and the opening it controls making sure that it could move freely other than the "suction" hold.  When the supply was turned off and the tank emptied the flapper/tank lever mechanism worked fine.  The tank fills to the same level it always has.  I have tried every angle of chain connection possible.  The chain does not have much slack and it made no difference when I varied that slack.  There are two other toilets in the house.  Both are 4 year old Kohler models.  They work just fine.  This toilet is on the second floor (as is one of the Kohlers).  Thank you for taking my question/problem which is "what do I need to do to make the toilet function normally?"

Answer
First, very carefully inspect the flush valve (this is the plastic part that the flapper seals against) something, either the flapper or the valve or both has deteriorated to the point that the flapper sticks too tight against the valve. At least change the flapper (they generally should be replaced every couple of years as normal maintenance) and then verify if it releases much easier than the current one. If it does then you have solved the problem and if it does not you will need to replace the flush valve too.
As long as there is water in the bowl there is no evidence of a mysterious vacuum being the problem or else it would have emptied the bowl.
You will of course need a new push button and flush arm and i think you said you had a metal one. Just remember that the flush handles are tightened to the tank with a left-handed nut.

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Cortez (cort) Cate

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PLEASE read this entire introduction. I have been doing this for a long time and I have come to the conclusion that if you are not willing to take the time to write a detailed question then don't expect a detailed solution! I am getting far to many questions that do not give enough detail to warrant a good solution. I realize it is a little difficult to formulate a good question but if you want a good answer you have to give me good details....read this entire introduction please....remember this website is world wide I have no clue where you live if you don't tell me.....to give more detail on the fixture you are having problems with...a one piece eljer 3.5 gallon flush will be totally different than a one-gallon flush toto.....details are important. I can answer most questions related to residential and commercial plumbing for many buildings. I have sufficient knowledge of the UPC and UMC. I will speculate for you if necessary. In those cases I will try to give you some guidance and you should use that to refine the question further and we, together, can seek the answer via a follow up. Plumbing codes and practices vary around the world--If you don't tell me where you live the answer I give may not fit your locality. I am giving my time to you as a way of fulfilling my perceived obligation to share. I am here to try to help you find a solution to your problem. REMEMBER, If you want a good answer you need to ask a detailed question and include where you live, type of pipes, type of building, water pressure if it is a water problem, type of heater, age of appliance & building all these and many more are variables that have an effect on various situations. Detailed information will help produce a better answer.

Experience

Since 1972 a California licensed B-1 General Building Contractor, C-36 Plumbing and C-16 Fire Sprinkler Contractor; also installing and servicing Heating, Air Conditioning and Sheet Metal operating as C and C Building and Plumbing, California State License 279516. In 1995 I downsized the company to become semi-retired. Still I remain active in the construction industry. As head of a company I placed personnel and job safety as the number one objective followed closely by training and continuing education. Always seeking to stay informed of leading edge technology in the industry. Also I have spent several years as an Apprenticeship Instructor in the Pipe Trades Unions. Additionally I am a certified OSHA instructor.

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United Association of Plumbers and Steamfitters Instruction Training, Ann Arbor, MI Bakersfield College, Bakersfield CA Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, San Luis Obispo, CA Foothill College, Los Altos, CA California Licensed Contractor from 1971

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