Diagnosing an Obstructed Toilet Drain
LESLIE: Alabama’s on the line and Ray listens to The Money Pit on WJRM. And you have a plumbing situation. What happened?
RAY: Well, we removed a shower out of a half bath and we put a vanity in there and left the vent pipe underneath the sink. But now the toilet that that drain feeds into does not flush properly and I’m not sure if it’s an air problem, getting behind the flow of the water, or maybe an angle problem.
TOM: Are you certain that there’s no obstruction? Let’s cover the basics.
RAY: Yes, sir. They have run about an eight foot snake down the toilet drain line.
TOM: OK. Have you taken the toilet off and checked for an obstruction inside of the toilet?
RAY: I have not.
TOM: I speak from experience telling you that could happen.
TOM: Do you have kids in the house?
RAY: Yes, I do and there’s a 10-year-old daughter that uses that restroom.
TOM: OK. Yeah, I had a situation where I had a …
LESLIE: You’d be surprised what children’s toys can fit down that drain.
TOM: Yeah. (laughter) You have to eliminate that as a possibility; there’s no obstruction in the unit itself. Because it wouldn’t make sense that taking off – you said you removed a shower and put in a vanity?
RAY: Correct. And underneath where the p trap is, there is a T valve and an extra drain or a behind the water air drain.
TOM: Right, but it’s all going down to the same drainway’s (ph) vent.
TOM: So it wouldn’t make sense that just adding that would obstruct it, unless there is something either blocking it on the top or the bottom.
You know, another thing that you could do to kind of figure out where this is obstructed – if you have, in fact, checked the toilet and you’ve checked the line, you could have a camera run down that line. The Roto-Rooter guys have a drain camera which I’ve seen demonstrated, which is pretty cool; I’m sure all the drain cleaning services have similar devices. They can actually inspect the line and see where the obstruction is. Because it shouldn’t have anything to do with the toilet if the toilet flushed properly before. So there’s either an obstruction in the toilet itself – because there’s a built-in trap there where there could be an obstruction – or something with the line is obstructed. It has to be one place or the other. Nothing else would, frankly, make any sense.
RAY: Well, we’ll definitely look into that.
TOM: Well, give it a shot. Take it off. It’s pretty easy. You know, take the two bolts off and flip it upside down and take a look underneath and see if something worked its way into just the wrong spot.
RAY: And then put a new wax ring on and make sure you don’t slide it when you put it back on.
TOM: Yeah, drop it on and you know, just be in the reasonably same area and you should be fine.
RAY: Thank you so much for the help.
TOM: You’re welcome, Ray. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.