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I have reviewed the other questions here related to this. I'm pretty sure it's not clogged because it doesn't back up and usually only takes 2 flushes to get everything down. Usually it seems to be paper that's left after the first flush, which seems odd. The water does swirl, but it does seem to be kind of a weak swirl, for lack of a better term. The water and paper just doesn't go all the way down.

Here's what I've tried already:

  • used a plunger
  • used a snake/auger, going down from the toilet
  • used a snake/auger, from the roof, going down the vent; it was maybe 15 feet long; it came back wet but clean
  • held down the handle to make sure the entire contents of the tank is emptied; this didn't have any effect, it still didn't flush completely; although I did notice that when I didn't hold it down, it did seem like the flapper closed early, so I should probably try a new flapper
  • took out the 'filler' in the tank; there is a large plastic spacer thing in the tank which I assume is there to take up volume and save water; I removed this so that the tank was completely full; still no change
  • we have hard water, but we've had a water softener for the last 12 or so years we'e been in the house (out of 15); so I'd think any mineral deposits wouldn't be there, or at least wouldn't suddenly appear; I haven't done the CLR scrum around the rim jets yet
  • I tried pouring in a couple gallons of water from a bucket to see if it goes down, which it started to and then stopped; I don't know what this may indicate

This is in an upstairs bathroom. I don't hear any gurgling out of the sink or bath when I flush.

This is the original toilet, or at least since we moved in 15 years ago; the house was built around 1988. I have replaced the flush valve or whatever you call the main mechanism inside the tank a few or several years ago.

It has been doing this for a few months now (yea I'm slow getting to it); I mean it's basically functional with a 2nd flush, just kind of gross.

EDIT: I finally pulled the toilet, after trying everything else (except CLR); I tried to snake/auger it from the bottom and didn't find anything there either; I couldn't get the snake all the way thru, but I feel like this is more due to the sharp bend; it just completely stopped; everyone will probably say this obviously means you have a clog, but it felt like it just wasn't turning, rather than hitting any obstruction. It's an older auger from my father; kind of spools out of a funnel shaped metal container, rather than the closet augers I've seen in related youtube videos

So now what? Might be easier at this point to just replace it, since I didn't change anything after pulling it, and I'm afraid if I put the old one back on I'll have the same probably since nothing changed

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What you might try is getting a new flapper since it is closing too soon anyway, also get the filling mechanism/float which will rush water into the tank quicker..they sell both items in a kit..and make sure the water level is high enough in the tank. You can even adjust the float a little higher. That will give the water more force from the added weight. It sounds like all you need is a little extra push to get a complete flush.

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The next step would be to remove the toilet and inspect the pipe visually. There could possibly be a blockage in the pipe that was missed.

To remove the toilet, you first need to shut off the water supply, and then drain out all of the water. There are usually 2 plastic caps on either side which cover the nuts that hold your toilet down to the closet flange. After removing the nuts, carefully rock it back and forth to break the wax seal. After that, it should just lift off. You should have a large plastic bag on hand to set the toilet on so it doesn't make a mess everywhere.

With the toilet removed, run the auger down the drain and verify that there isn't a blockage. Do the same on the toilet. If you can't find any problems, then it is time to replace the toilet itself.

Your house was built in 1988, which was before most states adopted low flow toilet standards. Your toilet is probably using at least 2-3 times as much water per flush than a modern one. To install the new toilet, you would just want to reverse the steps to install the new one. Just make sure that you don't forget the wax seal.

Most toilets are fairly standard, but there are specialty ones made for certain situations. measure the backspacing to make sure a replacement will fit. The standard backspacing is 12". To find the backspacing of your current setup, measure from the center of the bolt in the closet flange to the wall. If your spacing is different than that, then you may need to special order one. There also is a big selection of toilets. It is worth your money to buy a premium one because the flush components are usually better quality than the typical contractor grade toilet is. There are also ratings on the amount of flush power they have. Generally, the higher end toilets will flush better as well.

  • ugh, not what I wanted to hear, but thanks for the detailed and quick response; so if I take off the current toilet, run the auger, and if that clears it, can the old toilet be placed back on, with a new wax seal? Or once it's off, it has to be replaced? We are actually working towards selling the house, so if possible I'd like to avoid putting a new one on – user26270 Mar 11 '16 at 22:17
  • It should not be a problem to reinstall your existing toilet. Make sure to thoroughly remove the old ring from the bottom, and clean it to provide a good seal. Since you are there, now would be a good time to replace the johnny bolts. – Jason Hutchinson Mar 11 '16 at 23:36
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"I'm pretty sure it's not clogged"

Why are you so sure? I pulled a toilet with your exact complaint and found a solid object wedged in the toilet trap (child's toy).

I also pulled one under the same circumstances that had a buildup of unsavory material partially occluding the trap path.

I also pulled one that had gravel (from an aquarium or fishbowl) "trapped" in the trap.

In each case I used a closet auger first, unsuccessfully.

  • because it hasn't been clogged or backed up for months; it takes a couple flushes to get stuff down, but it does go down; when you say you 'pulled' a toilet, do you mean you removed it completely? – user26270 Mar 12 '16 at 18:54
  • Yes, removed. Partial flush is a common symptom of low tank water level or partial obstruction. – Jimmy Fix-it Mar 13 '16 at 3:42

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