Robert Lamoureux: Obstruction can cause toilet spray

Robert Lamoureux has more than 40 years of experience as a general contractor, with separate licenses in electrical and plumbing contracting. He owns IMS Construction Inc. in Valencia. His opinions are his own, not necessarily those of The Signal. Opinions expressed in this column are not meant to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor after that contractor has made a thorough visual inspection. Email questions to Robert at [email protected]
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Question No. 1

I’m hoping you have a simple solution to my problem. When we flush our toilets (especially the one in the master bathroom), there is a popping sound and water shoots up, sometimes splashing on the seat and beyond. Is there an adjustment I can make that I am not aware of, or do we need to call a plumber?

I am reasonably competent at DIY. I have replaced several anti-siphon valves, faucets, garbage disposals, ceiling fans, etc. I look forward to your column every week and appreciate any help you can provide. Thanks,
— Jack C.

Answer No. 1

Thanks for writing in and being a loyal reader of The Signal.

It sounds like you have a partially obstructed toilet trap and/or vent. I recommend you run a toilet auger (for those who don’t know what an auger is, it’s a cable that’s 3 feet long on a pole that is inserted in the toilet and is used to clear the immediate 3 feet of pipe rather than using a plunger). The auger can be purchased online or in a big box store.

The auger is certainly more effective. I would do this first, as it is the easiest thing to do. Then, if that does not work, run a cable through the vent.

This is going to require you to gain roof access. Please follow all ladder safety tips I have given over the years. They are as follows:

When accessing any roof, be sure the ladder is on good solid ground and if possible, a spotter at the bottom.

And ALWAYS, extend the ladder over the edge of the roof by 3 feet. The reason for this is that it gives you a point to balance entering as well as exiting the rooftop. You NEVER want to have to bend over as you descend, as it can cause a fall. If the ladder is extended by 3 feet, you can grab the top of the ladder without bending over avoiding a fall. Most ladder falls occur when ladders are not extended by 3 feet and the person leans over and loses their balance, and down they go.

If I were a betting man, I would say the auger will solve the problem. Best of luck.
— Robert


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