The dreaded slow flushing toilet — we all know one, and we all hate it!
Your toilet can be slow to flush, gurgle, or drains slow for a whole bunch of reasons, but partial clogs in the outlet drain are the most probable cause.
Besides that, you might be dealing with an old toilet flapper, rim jet clogs, or air vent blockages. Other issues include a damaged fill valve, a broken bowl, and a low water level in the toilet tank.
The positive side is that you don’t need to call a plumber yet. We’ll help you work out why your toilet is flushing slow, and provide a home remedies to fix a slow flushing toilet. Let’s get started:
Table of Contents
Why is My Toilet Flushing Slow?
Here are the most common reasons why a toilet might be slow to flush:
- Partial Clogs: The most common culprit. Debris like toilet paper, wipes, or other non-flushable items can partially block the pipes, restricting water flow.
- Blocked Rim Jets: The small holes under the rim of your toilet bowl can get clogged with mineral deposits, reducing the water flow needed for a strong flush.
- Faulty Toilet Flapper: If the flapper in the tank doesn’t lift fully or close properly, it can affect the flush’s power.
- Low Water Level in Tank: Insufficient water in the toilet tank means less force during flushing.
- Old or Inefficient Toilet Model: Older toilets or those with poor design might not flush as powerfully as modern, more efficient models.
- Blocked Vent Pipe: The vent pipe on your roof, which helps regulate air pressure in the plumbing system, can become blocked, affecting toilet flushing.
- Damaged Fill Valve: If the fill valve in the tank is malfunctioning, it can prevent the tank from filling properly, leading to weak flushes.
- Sediment Buildup: Over time, sediment can accumulate in the bottom of the tank or the bowl, affecting the flushing mechanism.
- Inappropriate Pipe Size or Installation Issues: If the toilet’s plumbing was not installed correctly, or if the pipes are too narrow, it can restrict flow and reduce flushing power.
- Malfunctioning or Improperly Adjusted Float: A float that’s set too low in the tank will cause a low water level, reducing flush strength.
How to Fix a Slow Flushing Toilet
Remove Partial Clogs
When water can’t exit your toilet as fast as it comes in, you’ll see a sluggish toilet bowl. Typically, a partial clog in the toilet drain will cause this problem. You know it’s not a full clog because the water is still flowing out.
This mostly happens because people throw non-flushable objects like baby wipes, food, or Q tips in the toilet. These items don’t dissolve properly. Instead, they combine with other debris to create a gelatinous mass that blocks drains.
You can use many tools to unclog the toilet, so choose the weapon you already have at home. Each tool has its pros and cons, but the bottom line is that you can break the clog without consulting professional plumbing services.
Here are the usual unclogging solutions.
A toilet plunger is a common household tool that easily dissolves clogs in the siphon jet or close to it. This unclogging technique is simple— seal the bowl and push and pull the plunger until you create enough pressure.
After that, you’ll hear the clog breaking and going down the drain. The water will gurgle, signaling that your sewage pipes are clean and functional again.
A toilet auger is a long metal tool with a spiral tip that breaks clogs in no time. Your job is to insert the auger into the bowl and rotate its handle. Toilet snakes fit perfectly in the toilet pipes, cleaning the inner walls to break through clogs.
When the auger reaches the clog, it breaks hard waste and sucks the clog in its casing. After that, you can pull out the tool and flush the toilet — the water will wash away leftover debris.
You can also eliminate a clog with dish soap. The kitchen product doesn’t break the clog — it helps hard waste slide through the outlet drain and into the sewer. Here’s how it works:
- Put two cups of dish soap in your bowl
- Pour a bucket of hot (but not boiling) water
- Flush the toilet after five minutes
Dish soap consists of slippery grease-dissolving ingredients, so it will help the clog decompose and slide away.
One of the simplest solutions to slow flushing toilets is salt. The natural product dissolves clogs, but it takes at least 30 minutes to work. Using Epsom salt for unclogging the toilet is easy:
- Pour one cup of Epsom salt into the bowl
- Add a bucket of hot water, but be careful not to cause overflowing
- Let the solution sit for 30 minutes
- Follow up with flushing to drain the water and eliminate debris
However, keep in mind that Epsom salt is not good for non-organic waste like plastic toys or Clorox toilet wand heads. On the contrary, it works best when fending off organic waste like human feces and toilet paper clogs.
Fix The Toilet Flapper
A leaky toilet flapper is a common cause of a slow flushing toilet. The flapper is a rubber or plastic device that screws onto the end of the flush valve to store water in the toilet tank.
After flushing, the water generates pressure to push waste down the drain.
In other words, flappers regulate water flow for both filling and releasing after every flush. The flapper can suffer from damages such as hard water mineral deposits, tears, and cracks.
If it’s damaged, the tiny component makes the flush system too weak to clean the waste.
The only solution is to replace the old toilet flapper, but it’s a quick DIY project.
Start by closing the water supply to the toilet. You’ll find a round knob behind the toilet — it’s a shutoff valve that you should turn clockwise to seal the water supply. If the shutoff valve won’t shut off, use penetrating oil like WD-40 to loosen it.
After that, you can remove the toilet tank lid with your hands. You’ll see a thin line dividing the lid from the tank – grab the cover with your fingers and pull it up. After that, you should flush the toilet to remove water from the tank.
The flapper is on the bottom, next to the black overflow tube. Detach the old flapper by snapping it off the base. Now you can clean the flapper seat area with rubbing alcohol to remove hard water deposits.
The next task is to install a new toilet flapper — just snap it onto the base, and it will sit tightly. Now you can open the water supply by turning the shutoff valve counterclockwise. Close the toilet tank with the cover and let it fill.
Test your flushing toilet before finishing repairs by using a few drops of food coloring in the tank. If the color flows to the bottom of the bowl without lingering, you’re good to go.
Clean the Rim Jets
Jets are small holes under the toilet bowl rim — they enable proper flushing in the entire bowl. Jet holes can clog with hard water deposits over time, causing a slow flushing toilet.
You can’t see rim jets from above, but you will notice them if you squat. There is also a siphon jet – it’s a hole on the bottom of the bowl that sends water directly into the toilet trap. The cleaning process for both types of jets is the same.
Unclogging toilet rim jets will take you only several minutes. A common way to deal with the problem is using a toilet brush — clean all holes around the bowl and jets, then flush to check how they work.
You can also use a wire hanger as a DIY toilet auger device. Bend the wire to the shape of an arrow and use it to clean the rim jets. The sharp wire will break the clogs and enable rim jets to function properly.
Fix a Broken Fill Valve
The fill valve is a critical part of the toilet system — it controls the amount of water in the toilet tank, so it has to be functional. A broken valve will cause a slow flushing toilet because there is not enough water to eliminate debris from the bowl.
The fill valve is the tallest part in the toilet tank — you can find it next to the overflow tube. The valve consists of light plastic elements, so it’s prone to wear and tear.
Start by turning off the water supply to the toilet — reach out to the shutoff valve and close it by turning the knob clockwise. After that, remove the tank top and flush to empty it.
The next step is removing the old valve — pinch it with your fingers and lift it from its seat. The new fill valve should fit right in as you only need to press it down firmly.
Now you can open the shutoff valve by turning it counterclockwise, then let the toilet tank fill up for a few minutes. After that, test your toilet by flushing to see if you get a strong, clean flush.
Replace Your Toilet Bowl
Toilet bowls are usually strong and durable, but mild kicks and temperature fluctuations can make them crack. You probably won’t notice hairline cracks until you see puddles on the floor or wet walls in the basement.
The tiny fissures will cause leakages over time, turning your key bathroom elements into a slow draining toilet. There’s no way to repair the bowl — you will have to replace it with a new model.
Changing a toilet bowl takes more time than other tips on how to fix a slow flushing toilet. Before installing the new model, close the water supply by turning the shutoff valve clockwise. After that, remove the following parts one by one:
- Detach the water supply hose by unscrewing the nut that connects it to the tank
- Remove the tank bolts — twist them counterclockwise with an adjustable wrench
- Detach the tank and the supply pipe that leads to the toilet bowl
- Unscrew the bolts connecting the bowl to the bathroom floor
- Detach the old toilet bowl
Now you can install a new toilet bowl — place it on top of the base and secure it with a pair of bolts. Once again, use a wrench or pliers to tighten the new bowl. When you do it, it’s time to reassemble other parts:
- Attach the water supply pipe that leads from the bowl to the tank
- Reinstall the toilet tank and tighten it with a couple of bolts
- Connect the water supply hose that leads from the tank to the shutoff valve
- Let the water flow back to the toilet by opening the shutoff valve
Clean the Air Vent
Air vents maintain the pressure inside the toilet drain — this way, water flushes strongly and drains efficiently. Clogs in the vent may lead to a slow draining toilet because the air pressure can’t restore.
The problem with air vents is the location — they are on the roof where bird nests and falling leaves can block it with ease. In such circumstances, the only fix is to climb on the roof and unclog the air vent.
This task demands caution, so prepare for it beforehand. Use a ladder to climb the roof and clean the clogged vent. First of all, take a garden hose to pour water into the vent — it should push soft waste down the pipe.
If the water backfires, it is time to use a toilet auger. Put the drill in the vent and start pushing it. The sharp tool will break clogs down the vent, letting the air go back and balance the pressure in the plumbing lines.
You might want to make sure everything is clean by pouring water once again —the garden hose will help you get rid of the smaller waste remnants.
Adjust the Float
In case the water level in your toilet tank looks too low, the problem usually comes from the plastic float ball. It is a round-shaped part that controls the water level in the tank — when it’s too low, it limits the amount of water flowing into the tank.
The good thing is that adjusting the tank float is very simple. Here are the steps you need to take.
Even though the float is in the tank, you don’t have to turn off the water supply. Along with the fill valve, the float is the highest object in the tank — you can reach it simply by opening the tank top.
The float has a thin arm that goes to the top of the fill valve. You’ll notice a small screw — it keeps the float in its predetermined position. To lift the float (and the water level), you need to loosen the screw by turning it counterclockwise.
After that, take the float with your hand — it should stay a couple of inches below the tank top. This lets more water into the tank, so the toilet can flush powerfully again.
As soon as you adjust the tank float’s position, you can tighten it by screwing the small bolt clockwise. The only thing left is to put the tank lid back on.
How to Prevent a Slow Flushing Toilet?
Congratulations — your toilet is alive and kicking again! You solved the problem, but there is one detail to think about as well. We are talking about prevention as you probably want to prevent a slow flushing toilet from reoccurring.
There are several precautionary measures to take. Firstly, don’t throw non-flushable objects in the toilet. The only items you can flush are human waste and toilet paper. Everything else doesn’t belong in the toilet, including these items:
Secondly, don’t use harmful chemicals to clean the toilet. Although they make the toilet bowl shiny and bright, using strong chemicals deteriorates toilet performance in the long run.
Finally, remember to conduct toilet inspections regularly. It will help you identify problems on time, so you can react promptly to prevent further damage.
How can I make the toilet flush stronger?
You can make the toilet flush stronger by unclogging the outlet drain. It’s a typical problem, but sometimes you’ll need to clean the air vent or jet holes. If clogs don’t cause the toilet to malfunction, you need to look for other solutions.
This usually means replacing the toilet flapper or the entire toilet bowl. If not, you should probably change the fill valve or adjust the tank float.
How do I unblock a slow toilet?
To unblock a slow toilet, you need to break the clogs within. The clogs can be in the toilet trap, the toilet drain, jet holes, or the air vent. In each case, you can use a toilet auger to drill through the clogs.
It’s a sharp tool that breaks hard waste, allowing your toilet drains to flush strongly again. Using the auger is easy — insert it into the clogged hole, rotate the handle to push it forward, and let it dissolve the stubborn blockage.
The Bottom Line
Toilets are relatively simple mechanisms, but they often face a fair share of problems and drawbacks. A slow draining toilet is one of the usual bathroom issues, so you should learn how to get rid of it.
In this post, we analyzed how to fix a slow flushing toilet using seven practical tricks. Your job is to figure out why the toilet runs so slowly, so you can repair it quickly.