There are five conditions that can slow a toilet flush.
• A flapper with a hole in it
• Partially clogged bowl washing jets
• A partial clog in the toilet trap
• A partial clog in the vent line
• A partial clog in the sewer line
We have listed the possible causes in order of difficulty to diagnose – with the easiest to diagnose first. The flapper is definitely the easiest component to inspect. All you have to do is remove the tank top and flush the toilet. If the flapper closes before the tank is empty you have discovered the problem. A flapper with a hole fills with water and loses it buoyancy. So, instead of floating until the tank has emptied, the flapper sinks as soon as the flush lever is released preventing the tank from providing the amount of water needed for a proper flush.
Use a compact mirror to inspect the holes at the underside of the toilet rim. If there is a buildup of calcium that has reduced the diameter of the holes, all you need to do is clean them.
A partially clogged trap can be inspected with a small mirror on a long handle (about $2 in many hardware stores). From toys to cell phones a mirror finds most items wedged in the trap. Slide the mirror into the trap face up so that you can see “what’s up.” Pour bleach into the bowl to sterilize the water and then reach in with a hooked dental tool (about $2 in many hardware stores). You will be known as the household wizard from that point on.
Vent pipes promote sewer drainage by equalizing the pressure within the drainage system. Hop onto the roof and check the vent pipes with a flashlight. You may find a dead squirrel or a bird’s nest. Believe it or not we once found a Playboy magazine. Use a bent nail on a stick to hook and remove the obstruction.
If the first four conditions prove not to be a problem then you diagnosed the fifth condition which is a partially clogged sewer line. Sometimes a short snake known as a toilet auger can be used to remove the clog. In other cases a longer snake – or a plumber – will be needed. And that’s all there is to it.