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Plumbing: Unclogging Fixtures / Toilets

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Unclogging Fixtures / Drains

For about 90 % of toilet clogs, you need only one special tool -- a plunger with a flange-type cup. Toilet clogs are relatively easy to clear because after the clog passes the wax ring, the drain pipe becomes significantly larger, allowing the clog to float away.

Understanding how toilets work will help you diagnose your toilet troubles. Toilets require two things to flush well -- a smooth, unobstructed drain and good siphoning action. As the flapper valve lifts, water flows into the rim chamber. Some of the water will exit through the rinse holes to clean the bowl and create the swirling action at the bottom; the rest passes through the siphon-jet chamber, where it picks up speed as it exits the siphon-jet hole. Together, these two water sources create the force necessary to carry waste over the back part of the drain and leave behind a clean bowl. When any part of the water path is limited, troubles begin.

Flush Toilet Anatomy -- This device we use every day is really quite a sophisticated piece of engineering, as shown in the diagram on the right.

Flush Toilet Anatomy

This device we use every day is really quite a sophisticated piece of engineering, as shown in the diagram on the right.

Clearing a Clog

Don’t flush the toilet if you suspect a clog. Make a first plunge gently to expel air from the plunger bell; then plunge vigorously in and out. Keep the plunger covered with water. If the plunger fails to clear a clog, use a closet auger; as shown in Step 3.

1. Don’t flush the toilet if you suspect a clog. Make a first plunge gently to expel air from the plunger bell; then plunge vigorously in and out. Keep the plunger covered with water. If the plunger fails to clear a clog, use a closet auger; as shown in Step 3.

 

Test the drain by letting in small amounts of water -- don’t use the flush handle. Instead, remove the tank lid and manually open and close the flap per to see whether water goes down easily. If it’s still plugged, you’ll have to push the flapper down to restore seal quickly.

2. Test the drain by letting in small amounts of water -- don’t use the flush handle. Instead, remove the tank lid and manually open and close the flap per to see whether water goes down easily. If it’s still plugged, you’ll have to push the flapper down to restore seal quickly.

For stubborn clogs, spin a closet auger or regular snake through the drain. The hooked spring end should break through the clog or grab the obstruction (such as a rag) so you can pull it out. Once a clog passes the wax ring into the wider drain, it should move easily.3. For stubborn clogs, spin a closet auger or regular snake through the drain. The hooked spring end should break through the clog or grab the obstruction (such as a rag) so you can pull it out. Once a clog passes the wax ring into the wider drain, it should move easily.

Fixing a Slow-Flushing Toilet

A toilet needs siphoning action to pull waste out of the bowl. If you have problems, first check the water level in the tank. If it’s low, there might not be enough water released to put the siphoning action in motion.

If your water is hard, calcium deposits can clog the rinse and siphon jet holes. To clear the calcium, use the following approach.

1. Use coat hanger to ream out rinse and siphon holes. Be careful not to damage glazed surfaces.

Dissolve remaining deposits by plugging siphon holes with wet paper towels and plumber’s putty after draining water from tank. Pour lime remover down the overflow pipe or valve seat and let it sit in the rim for 24 hours. Flush toilet several times before using.

2. Dissolve remaining deposits by plugging siphon holes with wet paper towels and plumber’s putty after draining water from tank. Pour lime remover down the overflow pipe or valve seat and let it sit in the rim for 24 hours. Flush toilet several times before using.

The Buzz on Low-Water-Usage Flush Toilets

Many first-generation low-flush toilets (1.6 gal. / 6 liters) worked poorly because of a number of design flaws. Bowls were the wrong shape and traps weren’t engineered for the lower flow. These problems led to toilets that, because of multiple flushes, often used more water than the ones they replaced. Today, most new low-flush toilets work well, but for a better one, look for a fully glazed trap, 2 in. (5 cm) or greater in diameter. Some models even use com pressed air to assist the flush, but these tend to be a bit noisy and expensive.

 

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Recommended Reading

Audel Questions and Answers for Plumbers' Examinations

Audel Questions and Answers for Plumbers' Examinations

Book Description

by Rex Miller, Mark Richard Miller, Jules Oravetz

What’s the best way to study?

The best guarantee of exam success is to know the material and be prepared for the questions you’re likely to encounter. This book provides hundreds of questions and answers to help you review, tips for more productive studying, advice on how to approach the exam, a valuable section that outlines state licensing requirements for apprentice, journeyman, master, and inspector, and more–all designed to help you face the license exam with confidence.

  • Study plumbing drawings, material takeoff pro-cedures, and typical system layouts
  • Check your knowledge of plumbing mathematics
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  • Become familiar with regulations for both the uniform and international codes
  • Review residential trailer plumbing standards and private sewage treatment facilities
  • Refresh your understanding of steam and hot water heating procedures
  • Study the specific licensing requirements for your state and your experience level

About the Author
Rex Miller was a Professor of Industrial Technology at The State University of New York, College at Buffalo for more than 35 years. He has taught on the technical school, high school, and college level for more than 40 years. He is the author or coauthor of more than 100 textbooks ranging from electronics through carpentry and sheet metal work. He has contributed more than 50 magazine articles over the years to technical publications. He is also the author of seven Civil War regimental histories.

Mark Richard Miller finished his B.S. degree in New York and moved on to Ball State University, where he obtained his master’s and went to work in San Antonio. He taught in high school and went to graduate school in College Station, Texas, finishing the doctorate. He took a position at Texas A&M University in Kingsville, Texas, where he now teaches in the Industrial Technology Department as a Professor and Department Chairman. He has coauthored seven books and contributed many articles to technical magazines. His hobbies include refinishing a 1970 Plymouth Super Bird and a 1971 Roadrunner.

Jules A. Oravetz was a professional engineer and the author of numerous books for the plumbing and pipefitting trades, as well as those for building, grounds, and garden maintenance.

Topics include:

toilet flange, main water line, cartridge housing, pipe dope, dishwasher drain, tub spout, cutter wheel, main shutoff valve, tubing cutter, filter head, male adapter, proper slope, individual vent, sewage pump, drain line, shower base, female threads, compression fittings, elbow fitting, galvanized pipe, finished wall, silicone caulk, shower faucet, stop valves, drain system

Reviews:

None

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Plumber's Licensing Study Guide

Plumber's Licensing Study Guide

Book Description

by R. Dodge Woodson

Topics include:

fixture water supply pipe, health care plumbing, several graphs about friction loss, heater sizing table, section lists standards, add one fixture, indirect waste pipe, many fixture units, inch drainage pipe, local code book, fixture being vented, heater setup, faucet seats, plumbing code, existing plumbing system, plumbing permit, following fixtures, food waste grinder, gray water system, waste receptors, water service pipe, trap for the fixture, bedpan washers, determine friction loss, code enforcement office

Ace the journeyman and master plumbing exams with help from a top pro

Now, R. Dodge Woodson, a Master Plumber with 25 years of field and classroom experience, focuses his expertise to help you succeed on the Journeyman and Master plumbing exams. He’s packed Plumber’s Licensing Study Guide with everything you need to know in order to pass the first time, including coverage of both the Uniform and International Plumbing Codes, over 300 visual references to show you how to use the illustrations found in your local codebook to solve exam questions, and much, much more. A necessity for apprentices wishing to become journeyman plumbers and journeyman plumbers who wish to become master plumbers, this powerful, one-of-a-kind study tool builds your confidence, skills, and knowledge, helping you:

* Develop skill with material most likely to appear on your exam
* Practice with hundreds of exam-style multiple-choice and true/false questions and answers

Card catalog description
Study guide for both the journeyman and master plumbing exams; covers both the Uniform and International Plumbing Codes.

From the Back Cover
INCLUDES THE NEW INTERNATIONAL PLUMBING CODE!

HERE'S YOUR MOST DYNAMIC WEAPON FOR ACING THE JOURNEYMAN AND MASTER PLUMBING EXAMS!

Let a Master Plumber with 25 years of field and classroom experience help you succeed on the Journeyman and Master plumbing exams. This powerful study tool asks the right questions so you¿ll know the right answers. Open it, and start learning what you need to know in order to pass the first time!

This one-of-a-kind study guide helps you:

* Get to know material likely to appear on your exam
* Practice with hundreds of exam-style questions with answers at the end of each section
* Familiarize yourself with both multiple-choice and true/false questions
* Build confidence, skills, and knowledge
* Focus your study on what you really need to know

Open this guide for:

* Over 300 visual references to assist you in learning how to use the illustrations found in your local codebook to solve exam questions
* Coverage of both the Uniform and International Plumbing Codes
* Hands-on exam prep from a recognized expert in the field

HERE'S THE ONE PLUMBER'S STUDY GUIDE THAT PUTS WHAT YOU REALLY NEED TO KNOW INTO THE STUDY TIME YOU HAVE.

About the Author
R. Dodge Woodson (Fort Fairfield, ME) has over 20 years' experience as a home builder, contractor, master plumber, and real estate broker. He is the author of many McGraw-Hill books, including Be A Successful Building Contractor 2/e, and National Plumbing Codes Handbook 2/e.

Reviews:

None

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Last modified: Friday, 2016-12-30 3:01 PST