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Kev Williams
12-30-2015, 12:43 PM
We own a mobile home, and we're currently renting it to some friends. Before them, one of our kids rented it, and during his stay his brother and his family lived with him for a couple of months. The place saw more damage in those 2 months than at any other time in the past 9 years!

One victim was/is the toilet in the main bathroom. It started not-flushing. It won't overflow, it will take the 1.5 gallons from the tank and then will slowly drain down to normal level even with the incoming water running. Our son ran a snake thru the toilet just fine, so he removed it from the floor, and found no apparent drain blockage. He re-installed the toilet, and it acted like that for a couple more months.

Then one day it started flushing fine, that was about 3 months ago.

And over the weekend it started acting up again.

2 days ago I poured 2 gallons of main-line cleaner down the toilet, figuring if a piece of clothing was the cause, the lye would eat thru it.

Problem remains. And I need to fix it before their New Years Eve party tomorrow night!

I've been thinking about a drain blockage, but the drain line below the toilet is nearly 2' straight down before it goes into the ground, and according to our son, a flashlight showed nothing obvious in the drain. So it's my thinking that, even if there IS a blockage down below, it's still allowing a gravity feed of over 4 gallons a minute of water to pass, so shouldn't the drain pipe itself should be able to take most if not all of a 1.5 gallon flush?

But it doesn't. The instant the water comes down from the tank, the bowl fills, and slowly drains.

So, because 2 gallons of lye did nothing (and all other drains in the place have no issues), I'm about 90% convinced there's a plastic toy (that lye won't eat) of some kind in the toilet, which moved out of the way once, and has since moved again.

So, this is pretty much a rant, and I'll be replacing a toilet tonight, unless someone has another idea of the cause I should look into first?

ryan paulsen
12-30-2015, 12:53 PM
Have you checked the vent stack?

Jerome Stanek
12-30-2015, 12:57 PM
My wife used one of those toilet fresheners that hang on the side of the bowl and one of the kids knocked it in and flushed. It didn't go all the way down but was just enough to do the same thing you described.

daryl moses
12-30-2015, 1:16 PM
My wife used one of those toilet fresheners that hang on the side of the bowl and one of the kids knocked it in and flushed. It didn't go all the way down but was just enough to do the same thing you described.
I think you are on the right track.
My daughter [when she was young] unknown to me flushed one of her toys down the toilet. It was small enough to flush out of sight but too large to pass out of the internal trap in the toilet.
Toilets have an internal trap designed into them. My advice would be to remove the toilet, take it outside and turn it upside down. I'm just about certain you'll find something stuck in there.
Good luck!!

Prashun Patel
12-30-2015, 1:19 PM
+ 1 on checking the vent to the toilet, or to the main stack if you only have one.

Lee Schierer
12-30-2015, 2:29 PM
Years ago, we had a similar problem where a tooth brush went down the toilet and got stuck inside where you couldn't see it. Periodically it would collect enough paper to slow everything down. Several snaking attempts failed to dislodge it. When we remodeled we finally found the problem when the toilet was tipped over outside.

Kev Williams
12-30-2015, 6:18 PM
I went to HD-dot-com to see if they had another like it (American Standard Comet), and they had a video showing what the thing will flush-- 3 cell phones, 56 chicken nuggets, 20 golf balls, a bunch of other stuff-- So I'm thinking weird toy, or hair brush?

Anyway, maybe what's caught will drop out. If not, the HD store is like a football-field away...

Jerome Stanek
12-30-2015, 7:06 PM
I would try a wire hook and see if you could snag it. I had to pull mine and it dropped out when I turned it upside down. It was the wire hanger from the bowl freshener.

Fred Chan
12-30-2015, 8:53 PM
Q-tip spanning across the flange at the drain hole in the toilet. Snake goes right through and can dislodge the toilet paper blockage but will build back up and prevent flow. Some people think everything is flushable. You haven't lived until you've had to clear a dental floss clog.

Bill Orbine
12-30-2015, 10:01 PM
Had slow flushing toilet one time....replaced the toilet and problem solved. Water deposits made water move too slow, I believe. Either way, got me a crapper that never a stopper!

Bruce Wrenn
12-30-2015, 10:28 PM
When you say "snake" do you mean a closet auger? The first job I had out of college, where I worked, downstairs ladies room would clog on a 28 day cycle. After asking that certain items not be flushed, without success, we fished out item, and took it, in a pie pan to EVERY lady who used toilet, and again asked that these items not be flushed. Never had any more problems. Neighbor's work badge went missing, and toilet started giving problems. Plumber was summoned,and when he removed toilet, guess who was smiling at him!

Kev Williams
12-31-2015, 3:49 AM
I believe Ryan and Prashun above hit the nail with the vent stack--

I pulled the old toilet, dumped a bucket of water down the drain as fast as I could and it took it all no problem, so I put a new toilet over the hole--

And it did the same thing as the old toilet... :mad:

After removing the toilet I aimed the water line into the drain and running wide open, the drain took all the water easily...

Then I found a plunger... And the instant I pressed down over the drain pipe, I got back pressure. I could push the standing water down the pipe, but once I removed the plunger, all the water came right back. The one time I plunged about 10 times, I had to mop up water that blew back out of the drain. FWIW, the standing water is at least 2' below the drain opening. And when I plunge, I can hear water moving thru the pipes under the floor towards the bathtub, but the sound didn't seem to come from the tub drain. And plunging the tub drain, there was no back pressure at all.

Not looking forward to crawling under the mobile home in 20 weather, and not exactly sure how to troubleshoot and repair a vent pipe?

And since this is a mobile home and we pay an exorbitant amount of lot rent where it's at, I have one more question: Who's responsible for fixing the sewer line, me, or the landlords?

Prashun Patel
12-31-2015, 10:03 AM
Wouldn't your vent go through the roof? Vent pipe is the same as the drain pipe, it just branches upward. On stationary homes, it usually goes up through the roof and is capped by a cover to prevent debris. If that cover dislodges or animals make their way inside, debris can lodge from the top. That prevents fresh air from coming into the drain as the water rushes down. With nothing to displace the water, the water won't go.

While I have never snaked a vent myself, I imagine (verify, please) that you just go to the roof, remove the cap, and snake it as you have snaked your toilet. You may find the clog very near the top of the pipe, so inspect that first before delving deeper.

Robert Engel
12-31-2015, 10:42 AM
The approach to the vent pipe is from above.

Years ago, a plumber snaked out a teddy bear through the vent pipe.

Did I say "PLUMBER"????

I messed with it for 5 or 6 hours the plumber fixed it in 30 minutes.

Erik Loza
12-31-2015, 11:28 AM
We went through this with our rental place over the summer. Sluggish to drain after being flushed. I did everything the internet said: Liquid plumber, snaked it out, reamed out all those holes under the rim, checked the vent stack, etc. No improvement. Was about ready to call a plumber when I thought, "I'll give it one more shot with the auger". Fed it in there and felt like I hit a wall. Kept working it and all of a sudden, no resistance! When I retracted the head, there were a bunch of orange peels embedded in it. Flushed pefectly after that. Point being, I "thought" I got the clog with the auger earlier but probably, just pushed it farther down the line without actually breaking it up. If you think about it, how complicated can it be? You need water supply, ventilation, and drain. It can only be three things.

By the way, I pulled a kid's toothbrush and army man fro the trap in the sink on that same visit. Naturally, the tenants had absolutely no idea how any of these things could happen.

Erik

BOB OLINGER
12-31-2015, 12:26 PM
I'd pull the stool, turn it up so you can access the drain from the bottom, run a flexible hose through the trap backward to insure there is no obstruction. I used a sump pump corrugated drain hose with about 1 1/2" diameter to insure I cleared the trap. Then, start your checking from the floor down. FYI, my wife dropped a spoon down ours and caused it to almost stop draining. I did the this exercise and out popped the spoon. Reseated the stool and works like new.

Mike Lassiter
12-31-2015, 12:30 PM
I believe Ryan and Prashun above hit the nail with the vent stack--

I pulled the old toilet, dumped a bucket of water down the drain as fast as I could and it took it all no problem, so I put a new toilet over the hole--

And it did the same thing as the old toilet... :mad:

After removing the toilet I aimed the water line into the drain and running wide open, the drain took all the water easily...

Then I found a plunger... And the instant I pressed down over the drain pipe, I got back pressure. I could push the standing water down the pipe, but once I removed the plunger, all the water came right back. The one time I plunged about 10 times, I had to mop up water that blew back out of the drain. FWIW, the standing water is at least 2' below the drain opening. And when I plunge, I can hear water moving thru the pipes under the floor towards the bathtub, but the sound didn't seem to come from the tub drain. And plunging the tub drain, there was no back pressure at all.

Not looking forward to crawling under the mobile home in 20 weather, and not exactly sure how to troubleshoot and repair a vent pipe?

And since this is a mobile home and we pay an exorbitant amount of lot rent where it's at, I have one more question: Who's responsible for fixing the sewer line, me, or the landlords?

Kevin, I've got "a little" experience working on mobile homes. I doubt there is actually a vent pipe at the toilet. In the ones I have (and have worked on) be it a single wide with a metal roof or double wide with shingle roof they all have not had a vent rising through the roof or attic space for the toilet. I have a single wide that I have about rebuilt that has 2 bathrooms, neither has a vent pipe anywhere around the toilet. The sink(s) will most likely have a air vent check valve under them in the vanity cabinet. Garden tub had one inside the wall that was breathing" from the openings cut into the floor that went into the belly area. Kitchen sink will also likely have the air vent check valve under the sink. The bathrooms have a single vent pipe extended through the roof in the single wide. One is actually venting the tub/shower alone, while the sink has the air vent check valve under it. The toilet has no vent associated with it as the 3" pipe goes straight down to below the "trailer" and continues 60 some feet to the other end where the other bathroom is. The Kitchen an utility room are drained under the floor and inside the belly board back to the master bathroom. The master bath has dual sinks that have a vent pipe extending through the roof - however it is not plumbed inline anywhere with the toilet. In fact, they each join the main 3" drain under the floor by a cross connection.

328264328265
I had similar problems with the single wide (daughter was living in it) and the master bath toilet was closest to the septic tank. It started giving trouble every time they flushed it. It ended up being the 1000 gallon septic tank was full. Had it pumped out and everything back to normal. About a year later again having problems. Very slow flushing and gurgling and water coming back into the tubs etc. Had tank pumped again (couldn't believe a family of 6 could fill one in less than a year) however the problem continued. I got a power auger and removed both toilets and ran 75 feet of auger rod out. No change. I ended up pulling the access to the septic tank and found a HUGE accumulation of grease in the upper corner of the tank where the drain line entered. The auger was sticking through the grease as I had my head stuck down into the access hole in the septic tank. Needless to say I was PISSED! I confronted my daughter who denied EVER pouring grease into the drain. She instead said she had been running cold water into skillets and letting grease thicken into jell them pouring THAT down the sink with water running. There was about a 5 gallon bucket worth of buildup that had slowly closed up the 3" opening. Water from sinks and such would drain slowly, but the toilets couldn't especially if they were flushed close together which I am sure was often with 6 people there.

With all of that said, I would be more inclined to check about blockage in the drain and especially if on a septic tank. Grease that drained down the drain pipes made it into the tank them stuck to the walls and top of the tank and was sort of like wax on a candle running down and slowly chocked the drain down where it couldn't work right.

Matt Meiser
12-31-2015, 3:23 PM
When you say "snake" do you mean a closet auger? The first job I had out of college, where I worked, downstairs ladies room would clog on a 28 day cycle. After asking that certain items not be flushed, without success, we fished out item, and took it, in a pie pan to EVERY lady who used toilet, and again asked that these items not be flushed. Never had any more problems. Neighbor's work badge went missing, and toilet started giving problems. Plumber was summoned,and when he removed toilet, guess who was smiling at him!

Sounds like a problem at our old house resulting in me pulling toilets twice in the 3 months before we moved. Of course it was denied. Then it was found floating in the toilet only a certain household member uses in the new house. She got to choose between cancelling her birthday party or not going to the end of year formal dance, and was told she had to take a couple days to think about her answer. We also made her call 3 plumbers and get quotes to remove and replace a toilet. Hasn't been a problem since ;)

Dan Hintz
12-31-2015, 4:30 PM
If you can afford it, get one of those services that has a camera at the end of the auger... actually seeing how the water moves will provide a huge clue as to the real culprit.

Kev Williams
12-31-2015, 4:34 PM
Thanks to all for the replies so far! Of note, we're connected to a city sewer system, not septic...

I've been under the mobile once, a few years ago to check on phone and cable TV lines, and did a quickie check around of a few other things- I do remember the bathroom drain lines are heavily wrapped with insulation, so I'm hoping ice isn't the problem. I also ran the full-blast water down the drain for several minutes just see if maybe it would melt any ice if there WAS any, but nothing changed.

Interesting that there may be no vent on the toilet pipe. I know there is one under the kitchen sink, remember it from when we remodeled. As for the standing water in the pipe, it seems there's a trap in the drain line, although I'm not sure why one is even necessary with a toilet?

I'm trying to come up with a reason why any and all water I put down the pipe will drain as fast as it goes in without raising the level of standing water even a little bit, but I can't push an ounce of the standing water out with the plunger? The plunger will move the water 'forward', but none seems to head toward the street, all of it just comes back...? It's like I'm trying to push it uphill, which may be the case, but if so, where is the extra water I put down the drain going that water I'm forcing to move with air pressure NOT going?

Myk Rian
12-31-2015, 6:09 PM
The approach to the vent pipe is from above.
Just don't use a leaf blower to do it. I tried to get a wasp nest out of ours a couple years ago.
I turned the toilet into a bidet.

Clint Baxter
01-02-2016, 1:48 PM
Toilet drain line should not have standing water in it. Ever! Indicates something is clogging the line downstream or your plumbing is seriously back pitched. . A plunger works by pulling backwards, not pushing the obstruction through. When you push your plunger down, water/air is expelled as the plunger compresses, and when you pull/lift the plunger you pull the water in the line and clog towards you. This can dislodge the clog and it goes down with the backed up water.

How long do you run the water down the drain line with the toilet off? It can always take a certain amount of water that is just filling the pipes behind the clog. Have you run the water for a considerable time and found the water level doesn't rise?

The suggestion of the camera is a good one for identifying a clog and its location

Good luck.

Clint

Jason Roehl
01-02-2016, 2:03 PM
Toilet drain line should not have standing water in it. Ever! Indicates something is clogging the line downstream or your plumbing is seriously back pitched.

+1



A plunger works by pulling backwards, not pushing the obstruction through. When you push your plunger down, water/air is expelled as the plunger compresses, and when you pull/lift the plunger you pull the water in the line and clog towards you. This can dislodge the clog and it goes down with the backed up water.


Not true. Many of the plungers available now are plastic accordions--they're meant to force a shot of water to the clog to break it up. That said, I personally have had the most success with a rapid push-pull repetition to break up a clog and allow it to flush, using the rubber plungers with the additional reducer neck.

Kev Williams
01-03-2016, 2:11 PM
"...should not have any standing water in it".

Bingo! I kinda thought that was the case, but I've seen stranger things in my life! And this is the first plumbing I've messed with in a mobile home...

Our tenant was referred to a plumber, he quoted her $150 to come check out the problem. Not wanting to crawl under the thing in the freezing cold, I thought that was a great deal...

He called me about 20 minutes after he arrived. He ran a camera down the drain, and found water, then no water, then more water, then no water. So he pull some skirting and crawled under, and found the problem:

The drain was running up-hill. Why exactly it worked for 8 years before giving us trouble, my guess is the middle section of the drain pipe has been slowly sagging until it held too much water.

The irony is, the main bath is the only plumbing on the north side, and is only about 8' away from the main sewer connection. All the other plumbing, the master bath, washer and kitchen sink, are on the south side. But rather than run the main bath plumbing sideways and tee all the other plumbing to it above the main, it runs backwards (east) for about 16' under the bedroom almost to the back wall, then makes a right turn and runs south for 20', then turns west and comes back, where about 6' later the main bath drains connect, then moves on until the T where the rest of the plumbing connects, then moves north and connects to the main...

What's the purpose of running the drain around the perimeter of the place rather than just straight-shot sideways a few feet?

Anyway--I had to crawl under the place anyway so he could show me: The top of the elbow directly above the toilet was about 4" below the beam rail next to it, then 8' later the pipe was jammed against a beam rail. At the turn was about an inch of space, and all the pipe visibly ran downhill after that. I saved some money and fixed it myself, I just cut a 4" section out of the pipe under the toilet and re-connected it with a rubber coupler. Toilet flushes great now!

But sadly, the MAIN reason he made me crawl under the place was to show me even worse news: Below the main bathroom looks like Timpanogos cave. Stalactite icicles hanging down from all over the place, creating matching stalagmite icicles on the ground, about 8" tall.... :mad:

Plumber had no idea the source, but I did, as it was all near the main waterline connection. But the fact the ice cave covered a 6 foot square area scared the bajeezus out of me- My fear was a bathroom water line was leaking and soaking the subflooring...

Didn't feel the need to pay the plumber to figure this out... Was no fun at all wallering in mud & icewater, but once I got closer, water spray showed up in the flashlight beam, and I finally felt a stream of water hitting my hand. Thankfully the stream was going UPhill. After moving a bunch of soaked insulation out of the way, I found the main water connection faucet spraying water out of the threads where the valve screws in. I also found the heat tape that was supposed to be wrapped around the water line in a pile near the water line. The spray was shooting upwards and hitting the plastic subfloor liner, and ended up on the edge of a beam. The beams are lipped, so the beam filled with water and overflowed, creating all the icicles.

The reason the heat tape was off, is because roots from the rosebushes and other foilage just outside has pushed a whole bunch of dirt sideways, against the pipe. It probably broke the heat tape last winter, but it never got all that cold last winter, not enough to freeze the pipe anyway. So, I have to replace the faucet, which I can't do until I shut off the main water supply. Next problem, all that extra dirt has covered the main water shutoff, and the power receptacle for the heat tape, AND, the leak has soaked that dirt and now it's solid ice. And finally, I have to access it from outside as it's directly behind one of the block frame props. And before I can reach it fromoutside, I have to dig up iced-up rose bushes...

AGGHHH! The only good news is, the leak is quite small, maybe one cup every two minutes. I've covered the leak so it's not spraying. Now I just have to figure out how to thaw and/or chisel thru a bunch of frozen dirt...

>heavy sigh<