Why is My Toilet Flushing Slowly?

No, it’s not just you: your toilet really is flushing slower than it used to. Yes, it is affecting how effective the toilet is. When your toilet’s flush slows down, it can’t flush nearly as effectively. Eventually, that slow-down will turn into a clog–or something worse.

Luckily, it doesn’t have to. There are all kinds of reasons why toilet flushes slow down. Some of the reasons are simple, others are complex. The important thing is, there is always a reason why it’s happening. If you can figure out what that reason is, you can fix it and get things flowing properly again. These are the four most common reasons why flushes slow down, and what you can do about them:

Not enough water in the tank.

When you flush a toilet, you’re letting water from the toilet tank into the toilet bowl. Introducing all that water into the bowl suddenly creates the downward suction of the flush. If there isn’t enough water in the tank, then it won’t create enough suction in the bowl. Instead of a fast, powerful flush, you’ll get a slow, weak one. Sound familiar?

You want your tank to fill with water up to about half an inch below the drain pipe. If the tank isn’t filling up enough, then your flush will be too weak. A couple of different things could impede water flow into your water tank. You could have low water pressure, improperly-adjusted fill valves, or a malfunctioning trip assembly. Each of these problems are easy for your local plumber to fix.

Mineral build-up around the jet holes.

The jet holes are the holes on the underside of your toilet’s rim. Water shoots out of the jet holes during a flush. Toilet jet holes are small and out-of-sight, which means they tend to be very easy to forget about. They’re also easy to forget to clean. If you don’t clean your toilets’ jet holes frequently enough, minerals can build-up around them. Over time, these mineral build-ups could block water flow–and slow down your flush.  

Use distilled white vinegar and a small stiff bristle toilet brush to break up the buildup around jet holes. First, spray the build-up with the white vinegar. Let the vinegar sit for thirty minutes. Then,  simply use the brush to scrub the build-up away. Make sure to wear gloves while you do this!

Problems with the flapper valve.

The flapper valve is the rubber stopper located at the bottom of the toilet bowl. It covers the passage that leads from the toilet tank to the toilet bowl. Whenever you depress the toilet handle, you’re lifting the flapper and uncovering this passage. Water flows from the tank to the bowl through the passage you’ve just uncovered, triggering the flush.

Just like everything else,  flapper valves wear out over time. If the flapper wears out, it may not be able to cover the passage between the tank and bowl. Some water will leak from the tank to the bowl constantly, which will weaken the flush. It’s relatively easy to replace a flapper yourself, or you could have your plumber do it.

Clogged drains.

Clogged drains affect all the water-using appliances in your home, including your toilet. A backup in any pipe or drain will slow the movement of water throughout your home. The easiest way to fix this (and avoid it long term) is to invest in regular professional drain cleaning.

Clogged drains often happen when someone accidentally flushes something down a drain that they shouldn’t. Pay close attention to what you’re flushing down your drains. Don’t treat your drains like a garbage can–especially your toilets.

The easiest way to fix a toilet problem–or any other plumbing problem–is to call in the pros. Give Ben Franklin Plumbing a call any time, with any plumbing problem. We’ll get everything flowing the way it should.