I have 4 toilets, and all of them appear to flush slowly. They are older toilets (huge tanks), so there is definitely plenty of water going in (the bowl itself almost fills with water). It swirls around for a definite long period of time, until it finally flushes. I just got the house, and at first I shrugged it off; but now I'm starting to really notice it and I'm getting paranoid.

Is there any way for me to confirm that this is a backup in the mainline? If so, what would be my best recourse to fix this problem?

I don't think I need to hire a plumber, but I'm just afraid there is a big clog in the mainline. I had a friend who's sister kept flushing her feminine products down the toilet, and one day the mainline just burst in the basement and they had a bunch of sewage in the basement... which is really what I'm the most paranoid of. I am living with 3 other guys, so if this clog is building up, I'm really afraid of just a lot of crap exploding somewhere...

Another possibility is just that all of my toilets release water too slowly into the bowl-- I read somewhere that I should get a 2-3 gallon bucket and just dump that water all at once into the toilet bowl to see if that's the problem. I plan on doing that today probably, but I just figured I'd get this question posted first in case anybody had some anecdotes or advice for me

  • 5
    Call a plumber, they'll be able to snake the line. Unless you happen to know somebody with an industrial sized auger, in which case you can have them snake the line for you. It's much cheaper to have a plumber snake the line, then to fix a burst pipe.
    – Tester101
    Sep 2, 2014 at 13:41
  • 1
    Are any other fixtures draining slowly?
    – Tester101
    Sep 2, 2014 at 13:42
  • Yeah an upstairs sink drains pretty slowly too. I was looking at this, scotchcorp.com/main-line-cleaner.html Do you think that would do that job? I may just hire a plumber to snake the line, but I'm afraid of paying like 100 bucks for some guy just to shove a thing down a tube
    – A O
    Sep 2, 2014 at 13:45
  • You could pay much more, and get your own thing to shove down the tube, or to fix the tube (and clean up all the junk that comes out of the tube).
    – Tester101
    Sep 2, 2014 at 13:49
  • Have you tryed cleaning the flow channels with muriatic acid? diy.stackexchange.com/questions/1780/… Mineral build up over time can render any toilet unflushable. Sep 2, 2014 at 13:49

2 Answers 2


Slow flushing is not a symptom of a clog in the main line, that's not how toilets work.

You are probably thinking the pipe is full of water, so the toilet is having a hard time adding more, but if your pipe was full of water you would have water coming out of your bathtub! And every sink downstairs would be full of water.

A slow flushing toilet is simply an old, bad, toilet. It has nothing to do with the sewer line.

A sewer line is empty usually, unlike supply lines, sewer lines do not normally having anything in them, except for the few seconds after use. Even if the main line was slow (which it probably isn't), the small amount of water in the toilet would simply fill up the pipe above that part at a normal speed, then move down a bit slower - you would notice nothing.

Get yourself a new toilet, I like the Toto brand, you can buy one on Amazon for about $200.

If you had a clog the symptoms would be different: When you started using the sink it would work completely normally. Only after you ran the sink for a while (5 - 10 minutes even) it would start to slow down, and then it would stop draining and the water would just sit there. You would wait a long time and that water would very slowly drain down.


Drain pipes tend to build up a layer of fat and goo on the walls of the pipe over time. Pipes can be cleaned and maintained by pouring a large container of boiling water down the drain. Or by treating with an inexpensive commercially available enzyme that will multiply forming a colony that actually eats the grime off of your pipes.

  • What enzyme? Will it also remove soap scum buildup? Dec 9, 2014 at 8:33
  • @RockPaperLizard I've tried all those things ChrisR suggested - they've never done anything. When I had a slow line the only thing that worked was a snake.
    – Ariel
    Jan 8, 2015 at 16:55

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.