Plumbing in the Home/Toilet


QUESTION: I have a 2-bathroom house in Houston. One of the toilets has recently had flushing problems. On the first flush, the water in the bowl only partially flushes, and very weakly. If I let the tank refill, then flush again, it flushes properly. From the perspective of a novice, it's like it requires the first flush to build up suction. Everything in the tank seem okay. Could the problem be in the seal under the toilet, although I changed it several years ago? Thanks for your time.

ANSWER: There are several conditions that could cause a problem like you describe.
It is unlikely to be the seal.
Most likely something is lodged in the throat of the toilet such as a toothpaste cap or a small plastic toy and those are just examples as it could be many things. A plunger vigorously used might cure the problem but usually an auger is required and all to often we have to pull the toilet if something is seriously lodged.

Good Luck

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QUESTION: Thanks for your response on my initial question. I used a plunger, then an auger and nothing seems lodged. Although I mentioned everything in the tank looks okay, I have noticed that if I let go of the handle before it's almost completely flushed, it quits flushing. Was I mistaken and maybe it's something in the tank I'm missing? Thanks again for all the help.

This sounds more like a simple flapper chain adjustment.
If the chain is adjusted (long---the flapper only raises about one-inch or less when you push the handle down) the water will empty from the tank slowly and you will have to hold the handle down for a few seconds to get a flush simply because by not raising high enough off the flush valve and there is still water in the tank when you release the handle the force of the water on top of the flapper merely reseals it and the appearance of a weak flush....However if you understand what is happening and are willing to take a little longer to hold the handle down this is an excellent water saving adjustment that some people like and are willing to deal with.
To get a power flush the chain will have to be shorter so that when you hit the handle the flapper rises to a full vertical position and the force of the water leaving the tank keeps the flapper vertical on near so allowing most of the water in the tank to be used....power flush....
There are various flapper configurations that make the adjustments easier.
The long adjustment is good if you are concerned with water conservation and perhaps you don't have the newer 1-gallon flush water closets. Hold the handle for a two or three count for a light flush and for five or six for a heavy flush...saving water...
If you go to the hardware store to buy a new flapper see if the salesperson will explain it to you as most guys in the plumbing sales area will have good knowledge of the products.

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Cortez (cort) Cate


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 this entire introduction please....remember this website is world wide I have no clue where you live if you don't tell 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.


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.

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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