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Toilet bowl rising (over and over) after a clog. Ideas re diagnosis?
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When I called it the "second floor" I meant the floor where the problem toilet is.

My convention (edit: corrected to reflect Amanda's terminology. I originally thought the quarter bath was the one on the main floor, rather than being the problem bath on the second floor. My error):

Basement
First floor = location of quarter bath location of bathroom functioning normally
Second floor = location of problem toilet, called the "quarter bath"

Your convention

First floor = basement
Second floor = location of quarter bath
Third floor = location of problem toilet

Which convention do you want to use? Steve and I are probably on the same page using my convention


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Posts: 33223 | Location: Somewhere in the middle | Registered: 19 January 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Minor Deity
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As best I can clarify:

Basement has a bathroom including toilet.
Floor above it (ground floor) has a bathroom too (toilet has no problem)
Floor above that (2nd floor? At any rate, it's the highest floor). That's where the problem toilet (in "1/4 bath)" is located.


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Posts: 13707 | Location: PA | Registered: 20 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Two things are happening here. Two problems.

1. The sewer line from the second floor to the first floor is blocked. The sink/ toilet combination problem proves that. You’ll have to pull the toilet to properly auger it.

2. The second problem is there is water getting to that toilet somehow, possibly a bad ballcick combined with a bad angle stop.

By any chance, when the second floor toilet was added, did they run the sewer line down the outside wall of the house?

Have you taken the top off of the toilet tank to see if there is water running?


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Posts: 32334 | Location: Yorba Linda, CA | Registered: 23 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
a bad ballcick combined with a bad angle stop.



Ok, I'm lost. What's that?


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Posts: 33223 | Location: Somewhere in the middle | Registered: 19 January 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Ballcock is the contraption in the toilet tank that shuts off water flow when the tank is full. Many have been replaced by Fluidmasters by now but Fluidmasters generally work perfectly or fail completely.

Angle stops are the valves at the wall that feed water to the toilet. They are notorious for not shutting off fully after a few years.


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Posts: 32334 | Location: Yorba Linda, CA | Registered: 23 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Ah, so she could actually have three problems....definitely the clog, (possibly) a bad angle valve (that allows water to flow when you think it's off) into a (possibly) bad ballcock that doesn't shut off the water when the tank is full.

Could also be a bad flapper valve.

I had our plumber put those quarter turn thingies as we replaced various fixtures around the house. So far, so good. They seem more reliable and leak-free than the other kind.


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Posts: 33223 | Location: Somewhere in the middle | Registered: 19 January 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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So Amanda, can you hear water running into the toilet tank? Can you lift the lid and see what's going on in the tank?


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Posts: 33223 | Location: Somewhere in the middle | Registered: 19 January 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Minor Deity
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Using pitcher, just emptied bowl and tank as much as I could replacing my widget under the float ("widget" = plastic thing that happens to fit the necessary space to block it). That way hopefully, the tank won't refill.

I don't hear any water moving anywhere nor is there any sign of water moving in tank.

I hope this will be stable overnight or so, and that I may be able to persuade plumber (a second one who sounds more knowledgeable) to come out tomorrow or soon to replace the tank innards better than my makeshift arrangement.

Meanwhile, my preference is to keep this set-up (no water refilling bowl) indefinitely while I investigate cost and value of extending this 1/4 bath to - small - full bath outward if architect/structural engineer says it's feasible.

It seems best for the moment, to maintain such a construction as long as feasible refraining from using that 1/4 bath indefinitely, of course. Anything else is bound to require pulling the present lousy and inadequate set-up at considerable expense given the awkward construction. (probably having to tear down walls and floor to remove toilet and possibly the sinks, which were already not workable).

(If I could I'd show you the present arrangement!)

If the water filling continues even if tank parts replacement doesn't resolve the water refill problem, I may be forced to pull the toilet (which WOULD require removing fixtures and probably at least one wall). The toilet will NOT fit out of the space available. Frowner

Many thanks to both of you for giving this so much thought. Meanwhile, I need to email two snow removal people for tentative help in upcoming blizzard and must immediately return calls to sons to get our Hannukah ZOOM party (including candle lighting) on the road.

All at once!

(This isn't everything going on right now...)

PS Steve, there is no drain pipe on the outer wall extending from this "bathroom" - can't check it right now.


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Posts: 13707 | Location: PA | Registered: 20 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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If the tank is full of water with the valve at the wall shut off, the valve is no good.

Have the plumber replace it.


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Posts: 32334 | Location: Yorba Linda, CA | Registered: 23 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Agree... at the first opportunity, like the next time a plumber is out, replace the water shutoff valve for the toilet with a good-quality modern quarter-turn one.

Do you have or can you acquire a packet of unsweetented Kool-Ade? Put some in the toilet tank and stir it around a bit, then wait an hour. If the water in the bowl starts to turn the same color as the Kool-Ade in the tank, you have a flapper valve leak.

Beyond that, I think Steve and WTG are right: There is a blockage in the pipe between the first and second floors, downstream of where the drains from the sink and toilet join up.


Shut off the water to the house. (In my area, the best way to do this is at the meter, not at the shutoff inside the house.)

Empty the toilet bowl, the tank, then the bowl again. Wait a while and hopefully, the remaining water in the pipe will work its way down past the blockage.

Pull the toilet.

Use a good long snake/auger to clear the pipe.

Clean up any moisture around the pipe inlet/wax ring. Dry everything well.

Replace the wax ring and replace the toilet.

Or pay a plumber a few hundred bucks to do all this.


I'm sorry to hear of the gastro-intestinal distress. When that happens, I always recommend flushing every few wipes to keep the TP moving.


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Posts: 29189 | Registered: 27 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Also, how old are these fixtures and fittings?

If it's turquoise, I'm guessing 1950s or 1960s?


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Posts: 29189 | Registered: 27 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Minor Deity
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quote:
Pull the toilet


What does this mean? (I have been wondering this since page one of this thread...) Does it meant to remove the toilet fixture itself, i.e., the bowl/seat/tank? Or does it mean something else?

Also, is this something that can be done and then return the fixtures without a lot of other construction?

TIA suave


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Posts: 16385 | Location: not in Japan any more | Registered: 20 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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It means removing the entire toilet.

There is a clog in the drain. The first plumber tried to clear it by going through the toilet while it was still installed. It's a pretty narrow space and twists around. Makes it hard to get the clog cleared out, so you want to give direct access to the drain by removing the toilet.

Most toilets are two pieces: the water tank and the bowl. You have to get all the water out of the tank, which is normally pretty easy if the angle valve that shuts off the water is working properly. You just shut off the water, flush the toilet a few times, dry out the water tank, and unbolt it from the bowl and set it aside.

The reason that pj is saying that the water for the entire house needs to be shut off is because the angle valve in Amanda's bathroom is busted; water keeps filling the toilet even though she's shut it off. It needs to be replaced. You have to turn off the house water to do that.

The bowl should be pretty empty of water but some always sits in the bottom and also in the trap, so you want to move it carefully when you remove the bowl from where it sits on the toilet flange.

It also has a wax ring on the bottom that seals the toilet to the flange so nasty smells don't come through. You want something like a big plastic bag to set the toilet bowl on. Clear out the clog, replace the angle valve and put the toilet back together.

Because it's all apart, I'd probably just replace the toilet innards, too. The cost of the parts is minimal and it won't take a plumber much time to install them. You're most of the way there, so why not just make it functional.

pj also raises a good point about the flapper. I recently had that happen in a toilet in one of our bathrooms. Our water bill shot up and we realized the rubber flapper was allowing small amounts of water to leak out. When the water level dropped, the toilet would refill. Lather, rinse, repeat, multiple times a day. It didn't seem like much water but over time it added up. Part was less than $10 and it took me about a minute to install it.


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Posts: 33223 | Location: Somewhere in the middle | Registered: 19 January 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by pianojuggler:
Shut off the water to the house. (In my area, the best way to do this is at the meter, not at the shutoff inside the house.)


This is good advice in any area. The valve on the side of the house or in the basement is usually the original and breaks as soon as you try to use it. If the water company valve breaks they come out and replace it for free.

I replace the main valve at the house with a new ball valve at each property as soon as I can but not many people do this.

You can usually turn water off at the meter with a pair of pliers but using a wrench like this one is better. I have one hanging in the garage.

Water meter valve key

quote:
There is a clog in the drain. The first plumber tried to clear it by going through the toilet while it was still installed. It's a pretty narrow space and twists around. Makes it hard to get the clog cleared out, so you want to give direct access to the drain by removing the toilet.


Removing the toilet also allows you to use a much larger auger with a more effective bit on the end of it.


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Posts: 32334 | Location: Yorba Linda, CA | Registered: 23 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I think WTG has good advice to get the toilet tank machinery replaced as long as you have a plumber on site. Get the new fancy Fluidmaster and adjust it per the directions (wastes less water) and a new flapper.

In my 1950 house with its 1950 plumbing, everything I touch breaks. I replaced the shutoff valve for the downstairs toilet because I tried to turn if off and it just laughed at me.

I need to pull both toilets -- upstairs and downstairs -- to replace the bolts that used to hold it to the floor, but have completely rusted away. My friend said to take the tank off the bowl so it's not so heavy and lop-sided. Ummmm... no. I know that if I take that tank off, I will never get it to seal again, at least not without all new gaskets and washers and maybe half a tube of silicone caulk.


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