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Why is My Toilet Bowl Empty?


toilet dryIt is strange to look into a toilet bowl and find it totally dry. Where did the water go? A couple of possibilities come to mind. Imagine when you go to bed the toilet bowl looks normal with water in the bottom of it. You wake up to use the bathroom and now it is dry.

One possibility is that you may have a crack in the bottom of the bowl. These are very hard to see. The way the toilet trap is laid out is that it runs under the bowl. So if the bowl is cracked, the water would drip into the trap and you would never have any evidence of a leak on the floor around the toilet. Some people would say that if this was the case, the toilet would be running. That’s not true as there is no water demand from the tank until the toilet is flushed.

Another possibility is that you have a clogged vent. The vent runs to the exterior out of the roof. In order for the drain to work correctly there must be an air supply, and the vent provides this. It is simply a pipe that is connected to the plumbing system that rises up to the roof, or connects laterally to a pipe that runs to the roof. If this is blocked, a flushing action will suck water out of the trap (sink traps too) to satisfy the demand for air.

You can use a flashlight and look down the vent from the roof and look for a bird’s nest, or rodents, etc.  If you have another toilet on the opposite side of the wall, have someone flush it while watching the water level of the first toilet. Look for the water to move when the first toilet is flushed. If it does, you probably need to clear the vent.

Seal A Toilet Base To The Floor With Plaster Of Paris


loose toiletIf you’ve ever had a loose toilet from the base of the toilet bowl to the floor, you know you’ll have to break out the tools. If you are lucky, you may be able to tighten the bolts that hold the bowl to the floor, but this is more of a rarity. Chances are, you will need to re-set the toilet and that means replacing the wax ring and bolts.

Here is some information on how to replace the wax ring and toilet bolts. After you have removed the toilet and installed the wax ring and bolts, you will have a somewhat unsightly area where the toilet bowl meets the floor. A lot of homeowners install a bead of caulking along this area which makes for a nice appearance. Caulking will tend to smear if you apply too much, and if you have ceramic tile and grout as your flooring, the caulking can get caught in the grout and is very difficult to remove.

You might try plaster of Paris. I know, most of us haven’t used is since grade school, but for filling in the gap between a toilet bowl and the floor, it’s flawless. Plaster of paris dries quickly so you have to work fast. Mix up a batch and lay some down on the floor along the area where the toilet will sit. Then place the toilet down and secure the bolts. Use a wet sponge and wipe away the excess plaster of paris. You can wring out the sponge in a bucket of water as you go. You will be left with a seamless installation that will make it difficult to tell where the toilet ends and the plaster of paris begins.

Top Considerations When Buying A Toilet


toiletA longtime customer called asking what features she should look for when purchasing a new toilet. She was a little overwhelmed at the choices she had, so I gave her some of the high points of buying a new toilet.

The first consideration is the color and whether or not she wanted a one-piece or two-piece toilet. White toilets are more popular and so you have more choices and options. One-piece toilets are more expensive and therefore are not as popular as two-piece toilets. If white isn't your color, almond/bone is usually stocked, but other colors are available through special-order.

The next feature is a round or elongated bowl. A round seat is smaller and will fit in a smaller space. The elongated bowl takes up more space but is more comfortable.

The height of the bowl is another consideration. You have a "standard" height, a "comfort" height, and a "chair" height. Toilets with a rim height of 16 ½" or more comply with ADA and offer ease of use for tall people or disabled people.

The flushing system a toilet uses is important, and you have a choice between gravity-fed and pressure assist. Most toilets are gravity-fed, meaning that the toilet uses the natural force of gravity to send water from the tank to the bowl. Pressure assist uses pressure to force the water into the bowl. You get a stronger flush with pressure assist, but the cost to repair these is MUCH higher than a gravity-fed toilet.

To me, the most important feature is the size of the trapway. The trapway is the passage that carries the waste from the bowl to the drain pipe in the floor. The larger the trapway, the better. You can get a toilet with a trapway from 1 7/8" to around 3". The larger the trapway, the fewer clogs you will have. It's also better if the trapway is fully glazed so the passage is smooth. Along with the trapway, is the size of the flush valve. This is the size of the hole in the tank that allows water to flow into the bowl. The larger the flush valve, the stronger the flush will be.

You might also consider the water surface inside the bowl. The larger the water surface, the easier it will be to keep the bowl clean, and it will help to reduce odor.

Yet another consideration is a dual-flush option. These toilets have a flush mechanism that allows for a "half-flush" for liquids, or a "full flush" for solid waste. These can considerably cut down on your water usage. Here is some information on how to replace a toilet.

My Toilet Bowl Has A Crack In It?


toilet bowlI had a customer call the other day about a toilet problem. He has a rental unit that hasn't been occupied in a few months. He went by it the other day and found that there was no water in the toilet bowl. That is strange...usually you will find a little water in the bowl. The customer was thinking that since there hasn't been anyone in the unit, maybe the water evaporated. I guess that is possible, but I can't ever remember seeing that occur.

When there is no water in the toilet bowl, there is nothing to seal out the sewer smell from entering your living space. The sewer gas is kept out of your living space because the water creates a seal in the trap of the toilet. He poured some water back into the toilet bowl and re-checked it the following day. Sure enough the water was gone.

I told him there could really be only one explanation...that he had a cracked toilet bowl. Although there was no evidence of water on the floor of the bathroom, there had to be a crack in the trap of the bowl. The water was slowly draining out of the trap and into the drain in the floor. We could have just installed a new toilet bowl, which would have solved his problem, but the homeowner decided to upgrade to a more efficient toilet.

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