Toilet Water Rises Then Slowly Drains — This Is Why

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Toilets can work well for decades, but you notice a huge difference when something goes wrong. One of the most frequent bathroom issues is when the toilet water rises, then slowly drains.

It doesn’t overflow, but it is a warning sign that you have to do something about it quickly.

So what’s the deal with a slow-draining toilet? Most likely, the problem is a clog in your toilet. Non-flushable objects like baby wipes get stuck in the pipes, preventing your toilet from draining fast.

The other two factors leading to the slow toilet drainage include clogged rim jets and a low water level in the tank. Let’s see how you can solve all of these issues.

Why Do You Have a Slow-Draining Toilet?

You probably want to know why toilets drain slowly in the first place, so let’s start by explaining the three causes behind this phenomenon.

Clogs in Your Toilet

The first issue is also the most common because toilets are prone to clogging. Remember that you shouldn’t throw non-flushable objects in the toilet, such as paper towels, nails, and Q tips. These items stay inside the pipes, forming clogs over time.

It doesn’t happen instantly, but long-term disposal of non-flushable items always leads to clogging. In such circumstances, waste can’t get through the outlet drain easily, so the toilet water rises and slowly drains.

Clogs in Rim Jets and Toilet Ports

Your toilet has multiple holes that release water into the toilet bowl. These outlets can clog due to mineral deposits, debris, human waste, and small objects. You can sometimes end up clogging these holes:

  • Rim jets that let the water flow directly into the toilet bowl from under the rim
  • A siphon jet that sits at the bottom of the toilet bowl

In each case, clogs don’t allow the toilet to flush the waste strongly. Clogged toilet ports and rim jets make the water go up, so it takes a while for the toilet to digest everything. That’s why the water rises after flushing. 

Low Water Level in the Toilet Tank

Toilets usually need up to two gallons of water per flush, but older models may require even more. In case your toilet tank is not filling properly, the water level will be too low to ensure quality flushing.

A weak pressure leaves the bowl struggling with debris, so you get a slow-flushing toilet. The water level in the tank can be low for multiple reasons, but we’ll get back to that in the next chapter. 

What to Do When Toilet Water Rises Then Slowly Drains?

Now that you know what causes the slow-flushing toilet, it is time to discuss the solutions. Each of the three problems has a quick fix.

Solution 1: Unclog the Toilet

We explained how items like condoms and cat litter could block the toilet, forcing you to unclog the toilet as soon as possible. To do that, you can use a variety of tools.

A Toilet Plunger

It’s hard to imagine a home without a toilet plunger, which is why we put it on top of the list. The plunger has a cup shape, allowing you to seal it to the toilet bowl surface. Here’s what you should do:

Press the plunger firmly with both hands. After that, pump the tool down and up to create a strong vacuum pressure – keep pumping until the plunger stops moving.

The tool stops when the pressure is high, so you should pay attention to the sounds — when the clog breaks, it will flow away with gurgling. Now you can remove the plunger and flush the toilet to eliminate the waste remnants.

A Toilet Auger

The toilet auger (AKA toilet snake) is the drill that runs through the plumbing system to break clogs. It’s a metal tool with a corkscrew and sharp edges, which allows it to cut and pull sturdy waste. Use it like this: 

Insert the drill into the toilet bowl with the corkscrew facing downwards. After that, grab the auger handle and turn it clockwise to make pressure — it will help the snake go through the toilet drainage pipes.

If you apply enough force, the drill can hit and break the clog in the pipes. Then, pull out the snake slowly to extract all of the clog remnants. Finally, flush your toilet to complete the waste removal process.

Dish Soap

Dish wash soap is a more elegant way to get rid of the clogs in your toilet. It doesn’t dissolve clogs but rather makes them slippery – it allows waste balls to slide through the pipes on their way to the drainage system. Here’s what to do:

Pour a small cup of dish soap into the toilet bowl.

Now you can add a bucket of hot water, but don’t use boiling liquid — it can harm the porcelain bowl. Let it all rest in the toilet bowl for five minutes.

Flushing the toilet is the next step because it allows dish soap to reach the clogs. It should work quickly and help the clogs slide away. However, don’t hesitate to use dish soap once more if the first attempt is not successful.

Vinegar and Baking Soda

White vinegar is a good cleaning weapon, as it dissolves mineral deposits and tough clogs. It works well in combination with baking soda – just remember to follow these steps:

Mix a cup of baking soda and two cups of vinegar. Let it rest in the bowl for five minutes, after which you should pour a pot of hot water into the toilet. Now you can flush the toilet and let the solution work for about half an hour.

Vinegar and baking soda should break the clogs by now, but you must flush the toilet once again to test its performance. 

One thing we need to highlight is that all commercial cleaners aren’t the same. Some products like Drano or bleach don’t belong in the toilet bowl – they can’t break clog, while they can seriously harm the plumbing pipes. 

Solution 2: Clean the Rim Jets and Toilet Ports

Toilet ports and jet holes are crucial for flushing, which means they need to be clean at all times. If you struggle with a slow flushing toilet, you better unclog toilet ports immediately.

The good thing is that you don’t need special tools for this job. It’s enough to use your favorite toilet cleaner, a metal coat hanger, and the toilet brush.

Firstly, you should stretch the coat hanger to get a nice piece of wire. Use it to break clogs in the ports and rim jets — insert the wire and move it through the holes. That should be enough to break clogs in small drains such as toilet ports.  

Secondly, you can pour a cup of cleaning product into the toilet bowl. After that, grab the toilet brush and scrub the rim jet openings. Together with the cleaning product, the brush will remove stubborn stains and clog remnants.

The only thing left is to flush the toilet a couple of times. It will help you eliminate the waste from the toilet bowl and check if the toilet works properly.

Solution 3: Increase the Water Level in the Toilet Tank

There are two ways to increase the water level in the tank, and both are very simple. But before you do it, you need to open the tank by removing its top. The plastic lid covers the tank, so you’ll see a thin white line dividing it from the tank. 

Take the toilet tank lid with your hands and remove it. If too stiff, use a flathead screwdriver to detach the lid. After that, you can use one of these two tricks to raise the tank’s water level.

Remove Foreign Objects

Homeowners sometimes put an object in the toilet tank to clean it or simply to reduce water consumption. It is often the case with Fabuloso, but people also use other bottles and bricks to prevent toilets from wasting too much water.

If you have a foreign object in the toilet, the solution is straightforward — take it out. As soon as you do it, the tank will start filling with more water after each flush. In other words, it will become more efficient and won’t drain slowly.

Lift the Float

The second solution is more technical but also simple. The tank float is a plastic ball controlling the water level in the tank. If you want more water in the tank, you need to lift the float. Here’s how:

Turn off the toilet water supply by closing the shutoff valve behind the bowl — twist the valve clockwise. Then, flush the toilet to empty the tank. The next task is to grab the plastic float with your fingers and pull it up gently.

The float should stay an inch below the tank top. Now you can put back the tank lid and open the supply valve. Finally, you should test the toilet to see if the toilet water rises again — it should not do that after raising the float.

Other Toilet Issues You Might Be Facing

A slow draining toilet may not be the only bathroom issue you’re facing, so we want to mention a few other problems. Here are the most common setbacks: 

Weak Flush

If your toilet is not flushing strong enough, it can reveal more than one problem. First of all, it might have a low-flow toilet that needs a stronger flushing mechanism.

Clogs are the second cause of weak flushes as they occur in the drains, rim jets, and air vent. In each case, you’ll need to unclog the toilet with salt or some other tool or product.

Phantom Flushing

Phantom flushing occurs when your toilet randomly flushes for a few seconds. The most common cause of this problem is a broken toilet flapper that sits next to the overflow tube. It’s a small part inside the toilet tank that you can replace with ease.


Your toilet can leak at its base, but you can also see puddles from leaking tank bolts, nuts, bowls, and other components. All of these issues require immediate reaction because you don’t want to flood the toilet. 

The Bottom Line

When you notice a slow draining toilet, you better prepare to unclog the toilet. Clogs can occur in the toilet drain, rim jets, and toilet ports. The only exception is to see the water rising due to the low water level in the tank.

It’s an annoying bathroom issue, but we know you will solve it quickly. Just follow our tips, and your toilet will get back to normal in a matter of minutes!


How can I unblock my slow draining toilet?

You can unblock a slow draining toilet by using a plunger or auger. The point is to break the clog that prevents the water from draining. If you can reach the clog and dissolve it, your toilet will start flushing as usual.

Will the slow draining toilet unclog itself?

A slow draining toilet probably won’t unclog itself eventually. That’s because the clogs are often too hard to dissolve on their own, so you’ll need to use a tool to decompose them.

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