Author Topic: Toilet is bubbling!  (Read 15336 times)

Cinder

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Toilet is bubbling!
« on: January 04, 2014, 04:13:12 PM »
Preface - Single detached house with a septic, it was pumped last year (township mandates pumping every three years)

Yesterday, I noticed water on the floor around my ground floor half bath toilet.  It looked like it was tiny bubbles coming out of the front/center of the toilet.. It's just laminate flooring on a concrete slab, and the water wasn't reaching the the walls, so I just wrapped a few towels around it and I would check it out later.

The DW's family was coming up today, so I didn't have time to look into it more.  When I looked, I saw that the towels were soaked through, and I put down fresh towels.  I made sure to turn off the water supply to the toilet yesterday.  It did seem able to flush alright.

I got back a few min ago, and there are air bubbles coming up out of the toilet it'self pretty regularly, one ever min or two. 
The following link leads me to believe that there is a partial clog in either the vent, or the drain.  I'm not sure what all shares the same drain, but this toilet is on with at least the washing machine.  There is one toilet that clogged this morning (off the master), but the other upstairs toilet still works fine. 

http://purdy-plumbing-tips.blogspot.com/2011/04/air-bubbles-coming-up-in-toilet-while.html

What is the best route to go?  Should I directly call a plumber, or see if there is a local roto-rooter available?  I do have two snakes.. Similar to the below.

http://www.homedepot.com/p/BrassCraft-Encased-Sewer-Rod-BC95040/100621421#
http://www.acehardware.com/product/index.jsp?productId=12615149&KPID=951754&pla=pla_951754

Any Advice? 
« Last Edit: January 04, 2014, 04:21:44 PM by Cinder »

bogart

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Re: Toilet is bubbling!
« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2014, 08:05:14 PM »
If you are comfortable using the snakes, I don't think you could hurt anything trying.

We recently had the problem you describe and I had figured the seal between the toilet and floor had worn out and had looking into this on my "to do" list (the "bubbling" was minor, and it wasn't obvious it was backup rather than just mild leakage).  Then things got worse, namely, nothing drained (much), and any major water usage anywhere in the house led to dirty back-up into the tubs, also dreadful noises (think, the creature from the Star Wars trash compactor in your drains).  We don't own a snake and clearly the problem needed immediate attention; went ahead and called a plumber and learned that when we had our septic tank replaced a few years ago, it didn't get properly hooked into the pipe leading from the house.  I am not 100% how much was "incompentent installation" and how much was subsequent tree root growth, but long story short we'll be getting the bill for the backhoe services and (re)connection of the two parts of the system soon.  Oh well.

The first indication -- once the plumbers arrived -- that we had real trouble was that dirt -- actual, you know, from-the-ground-dirt -- was getting grabbed by the snake. 

Could tree roots be an issue for you?

Greg

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Re: Toilet is bubbling!
« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2014, 08:22:24 PM »
Sounds like you have a combination of problems.  One is that the toilet flange seal is bad, allowing waste water and air to leak at the joint between the toilet and the pipe it's mounted to.  Second is some sort of blockage, probably at the vent upstream of this toilet.

First thing I'd do is check inside the septic tank, at the inlet baffle where waste enters the settling tank.  You should be able to observe waste flushing into the tank when a toilet is flushed, or the clothes washer pumps out.

You can flush different toilets to see if any don't empty into the tank readily, and narrow your search down.  If you find one that doesn't flush freely, I would suspect something got flushed that shouldn't have, or a long-time snag has finally reached critical levels of clog.

Hopefully it's just a vent clog, not something harder to fix.  But the toilet flange gasket will need replacing regardless.  Pay extra attention to the depth of the gasket needed, and what the gasket provides.  You may have to double the gasket to achieve a good seal.  This not being done when the laminate floor was installed may be the cause of what you're seeing.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2014, 09:54:56 AM by Greg »

Cinder

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Re: Toilet is bubbling!
« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2014, 09:44:12 AM »
This not being done when the laminate floor was installed may be the cause of what you're seeing.

We just refinished the upstairs bathroom, and there was a gap between the wax ring and the base.  We installed some sort of bracket to raise up the flange.  We never had a problem when liquids went down, and being upstairs I suppose nothing ever came back up / clogged beyond the toilet.   The same people who did the bathroom flooring upstairs prior were the ones who did the laminate flooring downstairs, so this probably is the issue. 

As of this morning, the clog upstairs worked itself out, I flushed it and nothing happened, I was downstairs poking around and I heard the lower toilet bubbling and saw it filling with a bit of water again.  Went up and the upstairs toilet was 'normal' level again.  Did a flush and it worked fine (and the downstairs toilet was a little over half full at that point).

Within a half hour, the downstairs toilet seems to have gone back down to it's 'empty' position though a slow drain.  We are going to pick up a 'closet auger'.  The FIL recommended using one of them.  It seems like the design would allow a much easier process of getting around the bend in the toilet.  I can only get though a few of the bends with the second snake linked above (the drill powered one in a rubber sleeve) but I can't get far enough though all the curves of the toilet.   They have a 3/8ths 3 ft for 999 and a 1/2" 3ft5inch for 17.00 at the local hardware store, going to grab one of those. 

I'll keep you guys updated!  I'm just not 100% sure on what exactly I would need to do for the toilet until I take the toilet off, and taking the toilet off while it is still half filled seems like not a great idea. 

Thanks for the input!

Greg

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Re: Toilet is bubbling!
« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2014, 09:57:02 AM »
taking the toilet off while it is still half filled seems like not a great idea.

This is so true.

willn

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Re: Toilet is bubbling!
« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2014, 10:14:53 AM »
If you are going to snake the drain, remove the toilet first.

Not difficult, just check a few youtube vids.

Greg

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Re: Toilet is bubbling!
« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2014, 12:19:02 PM »
You can drain the toilet with a bailing sponge or even on old towel.  Soak, wring, repeat.  Once the toilet is drained, you an remove it and snake the drain.  It might be gross.  But, you're washable.

Cinder

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Re: Toilet is bubbling!
« Reply #7 on: January 05, 2014, 01:51:42 PM »
I just pickedup http://www.acehardware.com/product/index.jsp?productId=30845506 for $10.  I used that, Toilet flushed fine twice, and then on the third flush it filled up without draining.  Looks like I'll have to remove the toilet to snake the line.  There IS a big, black access that I assume is for snaking down to the septic (it is right outside the bathroom in the back yard).  Digging it up to verify would be the best bet, as was said earlier, but Digging frozen ground is probably pretty hard.  I'll try snaking the access next. 

Cinder

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Re: Toilet is bubbling!
« Reply #8 on: January 05, 2014, 04:25:02 PM »
Alright. 

Closet Auger didn't work.. It just did a U turn and came back toward me, it didn't go the whole way around the bend. 

Removed toilet.  Wax ring looked ok I guess, a little odd.  The DW is going out to get a new one.

The flange was 1/4 inch above the flooring on one side, and just below it on the other. 

I was able to sent my auger (drill operated) snake down though, but I heard it in the wall, so it went up the vent, not down the drain. 

I took off the trap under the sink and sent my auger though there, but I got stuck at some point and couldn't advance further (couldn't hear it, but it went out toward my garage).  No clogs there, just brackish water.

The DW will also be getting a wrench for me to open the stack access pipe.  I am hazarding a guess that they installed a T instead of a Y or something, which would be why my auger went up the vent instead of going properly out to the clog/septic. 

I'll update you guys after she gets home. 


Also,

You can drain the toilet with a bailing sponge or even on old towel.  Soak, wring, repeat.  Once the toilet is drained, you an remove it and snake the drain.  It might be gross.  But, you're washable.

I've worked with blackwater systems on a certain Tall-Ship that I volunteered with, and I'm not afraid of the blackwater.  I just was trying every avenue I could before remove the toilet.  it never had any leak issues untill it had a back-flow, so If I could resolve the draining issue I'd be able to deal with that at a later time.  It looks like I didn't delay it much!

I'm not sure how to count this.. Since there is 'so much stress/going on' I told the DW to pick up a pizza on the way instead of cooking dinner, I guess We'll see how it turns out in the end.  If I can get at it from the access line, and clear the clog, then we'll subtract it from what I would have paid a plumber.  If we can't... well, I guess that'll just be some stupid tax/unmustachian cost!

Greg

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Re: Toilet is bubbling!
« Reply #9 on: January 05, 2014, 04:29:04 PM »
This access you mention is your best bet; opening it will show if the clog is upstream (toward the house) or downstream (toward the septic).  A clog at the inlet baffle of the septic could cause this.

A hose can often wash down a clog that a snake might not  be able to fully free.  You run the hose in like a snake but with the water running (bend the hose to shut off flow as needed) and it can help you see when you've cleared it.  Hope it goes well!

Cinder

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Re: Toilet is bubbling!
« Reply #10 on: January 05, 2014, 05:43:14 PM »
I'm unable to open the access.  It looks like some kind of cement is on the threads.  I can't fit a pipe around my current wrench, so I'm working on lashing it to it right now for some extra leverage. 

Does this look normal to you guys?

Greg

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Re: Toilet is bubbling!
« Reply #11 on: January 05, 2014, 06:58:49 PM »
Stop! 

Put your wrench on the smaller square thing, that's the plug.  The smaller circle is the plug, screwed into a larger bushing (what your wrench is on in the pic) that is cemented (or lead packed) into the bell of the wye fitting.


Cinder

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Re: Toilet is bubbling!
« Reply #12 on: January 06, 2014, 03:52:28 AM »
I was trying to do that earlier and wasn't budging it much.  It was also deforming the edges of the square part, my wrench isn't very square, it's got a slight taper to the opening.  I still have the toilet off and the flange exposed, and I am just going to call roto-rooter today.  I was talking to a friend's husband who is a plumber, and he said other then things he can get at with a small snake, he usually just sends people to roto-rooter.

 Every time hes gotten a nice heavy duty snake, he usually breaks them around the time he breaks even on them.  I've seen that most places, and I think I even saw that in an article somewhere, but I can't recall exactly. They have the gear, they know what they're doing, and can get it unclogged in no time.

Cinder

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Re: Toilet is bubbling!
« Reply #13 on: January 07, 2014, 03:11:10 PM »
So.. to follow up. 

Roto-rooter was busy yesterday, and since I didn't consider myself in an emergency, I said it would wait until today. 

They didn't go in though the flange, they went in though the Cleanout that I couldn't get open.  I was initially horrified with how they did it, then I felt sick that I didn't try the same thing myself.  First, they didn't have a chisel, it was back at the last job site.  They were hammering on a screwdriver to try to get the cement off of the inner cap.  They then got a 'punch' and used that, but hit it though the top of the cap (didn't hit the threads), and just kept punching though it till they could get a wrench behind it and pull it out. 

Insert snake (15' of segments) and churn at it for 5 mins.  It was in the baffle of my septic tank (or it had gotten pushed there by the initial insertion of the snake), and they thought that My snakes would have had trouble getting it out. 

They grabbed a pvc cap from the back of their truck and put it in, threads were fine on the cleanout.

Cost for the service?  $198.00.  I WISH I had just broken the cap and grabbed a new one at the hardware store and tried with my snakes (Both are 25').  But live and learn. 

I'm waiting to re-seat my toilet.  I'm going to check the local habitat restore for toilets. 

I am unable to use any plunger on my toilets!  The opening is oblong/oval shaped, and it is about 1.5 inches longer then the widest plunger I can find.  This means any plunger just pushes water up the front or back of the bowl, and doesn't create the seal allowing me to force the water back and force to move the clog.  This is why I have so many different types of snakes!

Anyone have experience with this type of toilet, or should I just look for inexpensive toilets with 'round' openings? 

Greg

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Re: Toilet is bubbling!
« Reply #14 on: January 07, 2014, 04:17:01 PM »
Glad you got it fixed.  We have one of the plungers that has a reverse-bell shape to it under the normal part, seems to help fit odd-shaped bowls.  Hard to describe, looks a bit like what trumpet players use to muffle the sound.  Looks like this one:

chardog

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Re: Toilet is bubbling!
« Reply #15 on: January 08, 2014, 03:15:08 PM »
I am guessing the pump on your washing machine was draining when the water was rising in your toilet and bubbling at the wax ring.

The washing machine can send a lot of water into the drain lines at one time and with an obstruction, the wax rings of the toilets are a likely first place in the drain system to leak. 

The blockage in the line downstream was the source of all the problems and the wax ring blowing out was just a symptom/result.

Cinder

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Re: Toilet is bubbling!
« Reply #16 on: January 08, 2014, 05:39:59 PM »
Glad you got it fixed.  We have one of the plungers that has a reverse-bell shape to it under the normal part, seems to help fit odd-shaped bowls.  Hard to describe, looks a bit like what trumpet players use to muffle the sound.  Looks like this one:


We actually have one like that, but the hole is still to wide, and the part that extends down isn't long enough to make a seal in the hole!

I am guessing the pump on your washing machine was draining when the water was rising in your toilet and bubbling at the wax ring.

The washing machine can send a lot of water into the drain lines at one time and with an obstruction, the wax rings of the toilets are a likely first place in the drain system to leak. 

The blockage in the line downstream was the source of all the problems and the wax ring blowing out was just a symptom/result.

That makes a LOT of sense!  The ring didn't look to bad, but it is right near the toilet.  and the first water we saw was clean/clear, so it probably WAS laundry water. 


letro

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Re: Toilet is bubbling!
« Reply #17 on: January 18, 2014, 09:26:48 PM »
perhaps a couple of plumbing tips on toilets.
1.  Its never the wax ring
2.  Use a toilet auger not a plunger
3.  Septic tanks have a habit of keeping your snake in baffle.
4. Toilets in basement go to pump tank before septic tank at higher level.
5. Plumbers use hammers and big screw drivers a lot.
6.  But remember a simple fact when doing plumbing all plumbers are stronger than you.
7.  ALWAYS use two wrenches one to hold and the second to turn, protects the pipes from movement.
keep smiling letro
« Last Edit: January 18, 2014, 09:42:22 PM by letro »

Exflyboy

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Re: Toilet is bubbling!
« Reply #18 on: January 21, 2014, 03:06:14 PM »
What exactly was the blockage again?.. it was at the inlet baffle to the septic tank?.. Was this a concrete baffle or a plastic one?

Frank

Melody

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Re: Toilet is bubbling!
« Reply #19 on: January 21, 2014, 04:10:59 PM »
A bit late to the party but if it's a tree root problem a regular "toilet tablet" (not sure what it's called in the US, but it's a blue weed killer chemical tablet from the hardware store that you flush down there every 3 months) will help ensure it doesn't happen again. You get four for less than $10.

Cinder

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Re: Toilet is bubbling!
« Reply #20 on: January 21, 2014, 08:20:01 PM »
What exactly was the blockage again?.. it was at the inlet baffle to the septic tank?.. Was this a concrete baffle or a plastic one?

Frank

I'm not sure exactly what it was, we didn't excavate the septic side to have a look (it was -5 with a -30 wind chill that day, yay polar vortex!).  I believe my entire septic tank is concrete.  They didn't use a video probe, just a big ol' snake hooked up to a little gas motor.  They just had 'sludge' listed on the receipt.