A toilet with little flushing power can be quite an embarrassment especially when you have to spend more time in it waiting for the cistern to fill up again for a subsequent flush. The causes behind this issue can range from a clog, low water level in the cistern, blocked flush holes, blocked pipes, or dysfunctional parts.
To increase toilet flush power, you need to remove clogs, get the right water level in the cistern, unblock the flush holes in the bowl, clean the pipes, and replace any dysfunctional parts. If these steps fail, consider replacing the whole flushing unit with a pressure-assist or vacuum-assist unit to increase the flush pressure.
In most cases, it’s a simple issue that can be fixed with ease. However, if the solutions that will be offered in this article won’t restore or increase the flushing power of your toilet, calling in an expert will do it.
What Causes Low Toilet Flush Pressure?
A low toilet flush power can be due to various reasons including clogs and dysfunctional parts. However, it all depends on when the problem started. If you moved into a new house and realized that the toilet requires more than a single flushing, it could just be that the cistern parts need a little tweaking. Also, if you had a plumber or other technician tamper with the house before the problem came about, it could only be an issue with a setting on the toilet.
If, on the other hand, you’ve been living in a house for a while then the issue just showed up, it could be a serious cause such as a blockage or broken part.
Among the most likely causes of a low toilet flush power include the following:
1. Low Water Levels in the Cistern
The toilet cistern holds the water to be flushed. If there’s too little water in it, flushing will not completely carry away the wastes to the sewage system.
There’s a specific setting for this water to be just enough for a single flushing for every type of cistern and flushing unit.
Too much water in the cistern easily leads to a leak which isn’t a good thing as well.
2. Clogs in the Toilet
A clog can be due to many different things and at various stages of the toilet flushing system. It can be right in the toilet bowl’s p-trap or part of the piping system to the septic tank.
If flushing the toilet tends to be followed by the water taking too long to leave the bowl, it’s likely a blockage.
The clog can be due to an object forced into the toilet such as toy by a kid or a buildup of sediments over time.
3. Blocked Flush Holes
Below the rim of the toilet bowl is a system of holes through which the water from the cistern flows and washes away the waste. These holes serve to increase the water pressure and spread out the water all under the bowl for optimal flushing.
If any of these holes are blocked, the flushing will be less than optimal. Besides reducing the amount of water that reaches the toilet bowl per flushing, a blocked hole also tampers with the direction of the water.
4. Blocked Pipes and Valve
This can be the pipes that bring water into the cistern or the ones that take it out to the toilet bowl. For the former, the amount of water flowing into the cistern will be less than optimal especially with frequent use.
If the discharge pipe is blocked, you may have a cistern full of water but flushing only lets part of it into the bowl.
5. Sediments in the Piping System
If you use hard water, the minerals in the water may form sediments in the pipes and other parts of the toilet. These sediments can reduce the diameter of the pipes and even block the flush holes in the toilet bowl.
The result is that very little water comes into the bowl and at a low pressure. The flushing power is thus significantly reduced.
6. Water in the Floater
The floater can have water seeping into it and thus compromising its effectiveness. If the floater has water, it’ll tend to sink rather than float. The result is that the amount of water within the cistern will not be at the desired level.
7. Faulty Toilet Flapper
The toilet flapper is located at the bottom of the cistern and looks like an overturned cup. When you pull on the lever of the toilet ready to flush, you’re simply pulling the flapper upwards. It then creates a suction motion which pushes the water down to the toilet bowl for flushing.
If, however, the flapper doesn’t create enough suction pressure or closes itself too quickly, the water will leave the cistern with low pressure or not all the water will leave the cistern respectively.
8. Poor Toilet Design
The traditional toilet design is the gravity-feed one whose flushing power is highly reliant on gravity. In some cases, the weight of the water alone may not be enough to create sufficient pressure to flush away the wastes in one flush.
Any one or several of the problems above can lead to a reduced flushing power in your toilet. For a fix, the next section details that.
How to Increase the Flushing Power of Your Toilet
The issues stated above can be solved in the following ways:
1. Increase the Water Level in the Cistern
The water level in the cistern is determined by a floater and stopper mechanism. The stopper lets in water until it reaches a certain level. The floater then activates the stopper.
If the stopper is activated too early, the level of water will not be enough to create the proper amount of flushing power. Ideally, the water level should fill the cistern up to within an inch of the inlet tube.
You can adjust this level by removing the cover to your cistern. There being various types of stopper mechanisms, changing the setting is as follows for each one:
- Ball float; Stoppers with a ball float require turning the screw on the valve in a clockwise manner till you attain the right water level.
- Cylinder float; If the stopper has a cylinder float, you’ll have to squeeze the clip on the side of the float while pulling the float upwards till the water attains the needed level.
Other mechanisms not mentioned here will have simple and specific ways of adjusting the water level.
At times, the water level may be at the right level but the cistern will have less than an optimal amount of water. This can be due to the presence of objects in the cistern that takes up space. Remove such objects to restore the needed volume.
2. Remove Clogs in the Toilet
For clogs located near the toilet bowl, using a plunger or a plumber’s snake is enough to remove the blockage. You simply need to plunge the toilet serval times until the blockage is undone. For a blockage that doesn’t respond to plunging, get an auger (plumber’s snake) and use it to unlock the toilet.
Blockages deep in the drainpipe may require more than plunging or an auger. You could be forced to call in a plumber to identify the exact location of the blockage and how to best unlock it without messing up the whole sewage system.
The more complex blockages may require taking apart the drainage system which is best left to an expert.
3. Unblock the Flush Holes
The flush holes located below the rim of the toilet bowl can be unblocked by using a pointed object. They can be blocked with sediments or dirt in the water from the cistern. With each cleaning exercise, flush the toilet to wash out the dirt.
The flush holes can also be cleared by flushing vinegar into the holes. To do this, you’ll need to empty the cistern then fill it with a gallon of pure white vinegar. Put duct tape over the flush holes then flush the vinegar and let it soak in for half an hour. After that, remove the tape then flush the toilet with water to rinse it.
If you’re alone in the house or have a second toilet, let the white vinegar sit overnight (with the tape intact) for the best results.
You can use a mirror to see exactly where the holes are located for proper cleaning.
4. Unblock the Pipes
If the pipes supplying water to the cistern are blocked, you’ll need to solve the problem right from the main tank supplying water to your bathroom.
Find the right anti-rust solvent and pour it through the pipes to dissolve it. After that, allow water to flow through them.
For the parts from the toilet bowl to the rest of the drainage system, you’ll need to pour bleach into the toilet bowl then wait for about 20 minutes. The bleach works its way into the drainage system while clearing away any sediments that may have build up.
After the 20-minute wait, flush the toilet.
You can repeat this routine severally in the next few weeks to completely do away with the sediments.
5. Unblock the Valves
The main valve, in this case, is the one letting in water to the cistern. It can block either due to sediments or a dysfunctional floater mechanism.
Using an anti-rust solvent in the main water tank can help do away with the sediments blocking the valve. For the poor floater mechanism, you’ll need to find out the exact part that’s not working and fix it or replace it.
If either of these solutions doesn’t work, you can think of replacing the valve and floater mechanism since they’re not costly.
6. Remove Water from the Floater
If the floater has water due to a loose fitting to the floating lever, unscrew it from the lever and remove the water before screwing it back more tightly. If it’s loose, use a thread seal tape to get a better seal.
If, however, the floater has a puncture on it, you’ll need to either get the right sealant for it or get a new floater.
7. Tighten or Loosen the Flapper
If the chain or wire linking the flapper to the flushing lever is too loose, it won’t rise enough during flushing and will thus not create enough suction pressure. If it’s too tight, it’ll not have enough travel room to create enough suction.
To remedy this issue, just loosen or tighten the chain a bit such that the flapper is in its natural position. Ensure that it’s just tight enough such that pulling on the lever has an immediate effect on it.
If the flapper is faulty due to being old or torn, then you need a new one.
8. Consider a Pressure- or Vacuum-Assisted Toilet
If the gravity-feed toilet design doesn’t work, consider getting a pressure-assisted or vacuum-assisted flushing unit instead. Even after trying the above remedies, your toilet may simply have too small a cistern to hold, enough water for proper flushing. The distance from the cistern to the bowl may also just be too short to create enough gravity pull and pressure to flush properly.
Pressure-assisted toilets have a bladder with water under pressure that assists in flushing. The vacuum-assisted one has a tank which sucks the water out of the toilet bowl when flushed.
Finding the reason behind the low flushing power of your toilet is the main determinant of what you’ll do to get the power you need. With the right flushing power, you’ll not need more than a single flush each time the loo is used. Also, you’ll save on the water costs and the embarrassment of having to wait for the cistern to fill up for the subsequent flushes.