Toilets typically use gravity or compressed air to move the water out of the toilet bowl. In either type, water flows into the tank through a fill valve.

Gravity Flow Toilets – When you press the handle of a gravity flow toilet, a lever connected to a chain or wire will lift a flapper or a tank ball in the tank that controls the flow of water from the tank to the bowl. When the flush lever is pressed, water flows out through the flush valve and into the toilet bowl and through the trap taking waste with it into the drain line.

Pressure Assisted Toilets – When you flush a pressure assisted toilet, air in chamber located inside the tank is compressed as water enters the tank. As the flush releases this air, water is pushed into the trap beginning the siphoning action necessary to flush the toilet.

Difficulty Flushing the Waste Contents of A Toilet

Useful Tip:

If you are finishing a basement, take note of the plumbing routes to accommodat meters, valves, drains and cleanouts.

Low-flow (or low volume) toilets are a popular choice in new homes today and help conserve water; however, these toilets use less water to flush waste than older models and are more sensitive to the amount of waste. More waste generally requires more water to be delivered to the toilet bowl for a flush to successfully empty all the contents down the drain.

The following tips may be useful when operating low-flow toilets.

  • For a more effective flush, wait until the tank has completely filled before flushing a second time. This helps in both gravity flow and powerassisted toilets.
  • For gravity flow toilets, the longer the flush handle is held, the more water is released from the tank into the toilet bowl to remove waste.
  • If you want to adjust the length of time each toilet flush lasts, lengthen the chain that connects the float to the flapper valve or adjust the location of the float on the wire connected to the flush valve (located in the tank). This will provide a longer period of time before the toilet flapper valve sets and cuts off the flow of water.
  • For power-assisted toilets, avoid pushing the flush button if the tank has not completely refilled because the tank may not refill with enough water for the next flush. Check the level of the water in the tank. If it is not filling completely, shut off the water supply to the toilet, drain the tank completely and then turn the water back on.
  • Mineral deposits and bacteria deposits may reduce the performance of a toilet over time. Regular use of a toilet cleaner or vinegar may help minimize mineral and bacterial buildups.
  • Often a poorly draining toilet is due to a partial blockage in the drain and not the toilet. If you suspect that your toilet has become partially blocked, try using a plunger to breakup the blockage or help move it through the drain. If the problem persists, contact a professional plumber.

Continuously Running Toilets

The most common concern with toilets arises when they run continuously. This may be caused by:

  • The flapper seal has worn out (gravity flow toilet) and needs to be replaced. New flapper seals are available at most hardware stores. Make sure that you choose the right flapper seal for your toilet.
  • The flush valve cartridge is being kept open by a poorly adjusted flush button (pressure assisted toilet). Re-adjust the flush button. If this does not fix the problem, the pressure regulating valve may need to be replaced.

Sewer Gas Odours

A recurring sewer gas smell could indicate that the wax seal between the base of the drain and the underside of the toilet has failed. Wax seals are available at any hardware store but they do require some familiarity with plumbing to install. Contact a reputable plumbing service provider for assistance if you are unfamiliar completing maintenance on the plumbing systems in your home.