Before you spend a fortune in having a plumber come out to your home, here are a few helpful suggestions for what you can do if you have a toilet that doesn't flush properly.
Let me just say that I am writing this guide because my family and I have just lived this horrible experience. But we were able to eliminate the plumber almost completely in thanks to these suggestions we picked up along the way.
An inoperable toilet can be caused my a number of different things. Roots or other foriegn objects in your main line, a full septic tank if you have one, calcium build up in the opening of the toilet, or even the matchbox car that your son wanted to see float.
If your toilet does not flush properly, I suggest that you try these in the order that I list them.
1.) Get out the ol' plunger and make sure that there isn't anything right there that may be blocking the flow. If nothing pops out and the bowl water is clean, and I know this sounds gross, but stick your hand into the opening in the bottom of the bowel and see if you can feel anything blocking there. You shouldn't feel anything, but if you do then pull it out. While your have your hand there, you will notice if the interior of the opening feels gritty. Too much of that gritty, sandpapery type feel is calcium biuld up and can cause the very inner, and unreachable part, of the opening to acutally close and will case a slow or no flush. In that case grab 2 bottles of CLR. I reccomend doing this at night before bed so that the gasses will have time to work thier magic. Take the forst bottle and pour it dorectly into the bowl and flush. Turn off the water to the toilet. Then take the second bottle and pour it directly into the bowl. Cover the bowl with saran wrap and lower the seat and lid so that the gasses are contained. In the morning, remove the saran wrap, turn the water back on, and flush again. Beware the chemical smell will be strong. If that doesn't fix the problem, keep going.
2.) Ok. So you've followed #1 and nothing. Now I suggest that you go to Walmart, or your local hardware store, and purchase a toilet snake. Every home should have one of these, and Walmart usually sells them for about 5 bucks for a 5 foot snake. Follow the simple directions on the package and see if there is anything blocking further in out of your reach. If you can't get the snake to go all the way through, and it is not pulling anything out when you retract the snake, then you may need to remove the toilet from the floor and look from the other end. Make sure that you turn the water off before you do that though.
3.) Once you remove the toilet you will be able to see if there is anything blocking the inside of the toilet. If there is nothing visable, then stick your hand up the opening to be sure. Now that you have done that, look at the pipe in the floor. You should NOT be looking at standing water. If that is the case, try running the snake directly into the hose and see if you are able to remove anything.
4.) Ok. Still nothing. Next you will want to get some Main Line Cleaner for your toilet. You can get this at Home Depot for about 12 bucks. Now just think... If you have a plumber come out you are looking at least at $150, and that may not be the problem. Right now your cost is at about $20 if you had to buy the plunger. Follow the instructions on the bottle, but make sure to keep the bottle out of reach of little hands as this stuff is really toxic. If you have a large tree near your sewer line you may opt for root killer berfore the main line cleaner. It runs about the same price and can also be purchased at Home Depot.
You can also rent an electric snake (100 ft.) at Home Depot for about $50 for 4 hours if you want to try getting further down the main line.
5.) Still nothing? If you have a septic tank (like I do) you may want to go out into the yard with that trusty shovel of yours and remove the lid to your septic tank. Once you remove the lid, your sewage should be no more than 2 feet from the top of the tank. If you think it's a close call, it's time to call the septic tank people and have them pump your tank.
Despite what everyone says, how often your tank needs to be pumped depends on the size of the tank, when it was last pumped and the number of people using the toilets on a regular basis. The more it is used, the more often it should be pumped. According to the septic companies that I have talked to, and employed, you should really pump your tank about every 3 years as a preventative maintenence.
6.) Now it's time to call the plumber if nothing has helped. I hate to have to tell you that, but sometimes we just can't fix it by ourselves.
I hope this guide has helped you some. If I confused and frusterated you more than you allready are, I do sincerely apologize. My intention is to give you some alternatives to calling the plumber and spending a large amount of money, when really it was something simple that you could have fixed all by yourself.
As the side of my plumber's truck says.... A flush beats a full house.
Many Happy Flushes!