We are having problems with a toilet installed in 1949. At times it flushes perfectly, but often after the waste has been flushed, the paper returns. Twice a plumber has removed the stool and snaked it but found nothing clogging it. Is there a possible solution short of replacement?
I assume the plumber checked the toilet and the lines from the toilet to the main sewer or septic system and that those drain lines are clear. I suspect you have an inadequate or slow flow of water from the tank into the bowl. There are several things to check.
Check the water level in the tank. Is it at the recommended level mark – normally just below the top of the overflow tube?
When flushed, is the flush valve (flopper or ball valve) remaining open until the water level is below the valve and just above outlet? Hold this valve open manually and check the flush. The flopper or ball can be waterlogged or damaged and closing before all the water is out of the tank.
Finally, check the holes in the rim or the jet tube in the trap below the water line. Are they plugged or partially plugged with hard water deposits? You can clear these with and acid cleaner from a plumbing supply dealer. You can also clear them with a stiff brush or small piece of wood dowel.
To use an acid cleaner for the holes below the rim, place plumber’s putty below the rim to block the holes. Then following the directions on the cleaner label, pour the cleaner down the overflow tube. This will allow the cleaner to soak the small rim holes and dissolve the deposits. You may have to manually break the deposits loose with a brush or dowel.
For the jet tube below the water line in the toilet trap, use the acid cleaner. For the acid treatments, follow the timing and precautions recommended on the cleaner label. I do not recommend using any type of general acid – only use a product recommended for toilet cleaning.
I would avoid a replacement toilet because the new toilets are all designed with a 1.6 gallon flush. At times these cause problems with older plumbing systems. If you replace the toilet, look for the newer Kohler design with a larger trap and bigger “water spot”. I understand they work well and cost around $100.