Robert Lamoureux: Obstruction can cause toilet spray

Robert Lamoureux
Robert Lamoureux

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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