Slow Draining Toilet: Check the Lines
LESLIE: Carolyn in Arkansas is on the line with a septic-system question. How can we help you today?
CAROLYN: OK. I have a septic system and we’ve had a lot of rain here. Oh, probably the last maybe three months or so it’s been a lot of rain. And I’m in the kind of the rice land of Arkansas. It’s very wet ground. OK.
So, anyway, I was having trouble. When I would flush the commode, it – now, it never ran over, which I’m very grateful for. But the water wasn’t going down, OK? And it would go down eventually but maybe take 20 minutes or more.
TOM: OK. Does everything else in your house drain normally? Is it only the commode that you’re having a problem with?
CAROLYN: Well, the commode and the sink in the bathroom.
TOM: But do we know that it’s the septic system? There could be an obstruction in the drain and that’s the first thing I’d look at.
CAROLYN: OK. I did have some fellows out – a reputable company – and they did pump out 120 gallons.
TOM: Well, that’s – but you’re always going to have 120 gallons. The septic tank fills up with water, it overflows into the field. So, pumping out 120 gallons doesn’t really tell me anything. What I want you to do is to have the lines checked, because I suspect there’s nothing wrong with your septic, that you may have an obstruction.
Let me tell you a story about a guy who had a toilet that was having a slow drain problem. This guy was having a party and was doing this big cleanup for – before all the relatives showed up the next day. And so the toilet backed up and so he figured out that he thought it was a root problem.
And so he got up early the next morning and dug this huge hole in his ground to get down to this pipe and then snaked it one way, snaked it the other way, couldn’t find any roots in the way. Went back into the bathroom, decided that the obstruction had to be between the hole that he had dug in his ground and the bottom of the toilet. And so he took the toilet tank off of the floor and looked down into it and tried to snake that out and couldn’t find a problem. But in the process of taking the toilet off the floor, he happened to look into the bottom of the toilet and noticed that there was something blue there.
Now, there’s nothing that’s really supposed to be blue that’s in a toilet. It turns out that his darling son had dropped a toy phone down the toilet and that’s what was slowing the whole thing down. So, this guy had dug up his whole yard, took his toilet apart, all to try to find out what was causing this problem and hurried to get it done before all the relatives showed up. And it turned out to be a toy that was stuck in the toilet itself.
So, I’d say that guy was a real idiot and that guy was me.
CAROLYN: Oh, OK.
LESLIE: I’m like, “I’ve heard this story before.” I’m like, “Why do I think this was you, Tom?”
TOM: I was completely wrong on why I thought that that – I figured I was smarter than the average homeowner and knew that it – thought it was the willow tree that had clogged the pipes. It had nothing to do with that.
TOM: It was just a simple toy that was stuck in the crux of the toilet that I couldn’t see and finally got that off, put the whole thing back together, threw the dirt back in the hole and then headed off to get ready for the party. So you never know why your toilet is clogging.
CAROLYN: Well, that’s true.
TOM: And I wouldn’t always think it’s the most expensive possible thing, which is your septic system. Have the lines checked.
TOM: Who knows? And maybe you’ll find something that got stuck in there.
CAROLYN: Alright. Thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.