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When a Toilet Drains Without Flushing

  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Pat in Nebraska, listening on KFOR, what’s going on at your house?

    PAT: Oh well, you would not believe this.

    LESLIE: Uh-oh, try us.

    TOM: Try us.

    PAT: I have a two-story house and my upper stairs bathroom – the toilet itself – will actually go ahead and drain itself down.

    TOM: You mean like it’ll just sort of flush on its own?

    PAT: No, no. This is not a flush. The tank and stuff always stays like full …

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: But the bowl empties out?

    PAT: The bowl empties out. It’s real frustrating when you have to go up there with a plunger, you know?

    TOM: Yeah, I bet.

    LESLIE: Is it – is it a toilet that you frequently use or is it sort of in a spare room that nobody really bothers with?

    PAT: Oh, no, no, no. It’s used quite often.

    TOM: Well, I’m not sure if this will solve it but have you changed the fill and the flush valves?

    PAT: Oh, yes.

    TOM: Because once the bowl – the water should be steady because there’s a trap there that basically the water fills – when the bowl is filled, it sits and there’s a trap here that sort of holds the water in place until you lift the flush valve and the water drains and then it pulls out. But if your flush valve is leaking, that could cause this problem.

    PAT: No, no. It doesn’t leak out. I’ve even put dye into it.

    TOM: Oh, really?

    PAT: Yeah.

    TOM: What’s probably happening in your house is you have a blocked vent. And because the toilet can’t vent normally, it’s trying to pull that air from the different traps around the toilet and that’s what’s causing the water to actually go down. The solution here is to snake out the drain pipe from the roof on down. Because somewhere there’s an obstruction in the vent pipe and that’s what’s causing suction on the bowl, which is making the water go down.

    PAT: Well, I have to give that a shot.

    TOM: Alright, Pat. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

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