Toilet Is Not Clogged But Drains Slow And Does Not Completely Empty When Flushed

Question: Toilet constantly flushes slow and will not fully empty solids. We have never had this problem before and we do not know how to fix a toilet. Even if we flush the toilet multiple times it does the same thing and solids do not empty properly. Can you give us some tips and advice?

Toilet Is Not Clogged But Drains SlowToilet Is Not Clogged But Drains Slow

The problem is most likely not from your actual toilet. You probably have a partial blockage in the pipe. The easiest way to fix this is to first try a toilet plunger. (Get this type of plunger as it works better with toilets) Use the plunger in the toilet and push down and pull up and push down and pull up making sure the plunger has an air seal. You want to only push the water down into the pipe not any air. So position the plunger properly so you are only moving the water up and down. This will force the blockage (piece of plastic or something that was accidentally flushed into the toilet) to move back and forth and back and forth and will eventually get it loose. If the plunger method works, it will let your toilet flush normally again. If this does not work, try the process one more time. If your toilet still drains slow and won’t fully empty, read on below. (Note: Some toilets have air pipes that go out the roof, if this air pipe is clogged, this toilet flushing issue will occur, check roof pipe if applicable)

Toilet Water Flow Clogged From RoofToilet Water Flow Clogged From Roof

Inspect the toilet for proper operation. Remove the tank lid and look inside. Be sure the toilet flapper assembly is properly connected to the flushing handle. The small metal or plastic chain should not be long enough to let it get stuck or hung up. Move the chain onto a different hole on the handle flush bar if necessary to fix this. If the chain has too much play in it, it can hang up and the flapper will not seal and the toilet will constantly run water. Flush the toilet to be sure the flapper works and positions properly. Make sure the water exits the tank with no problems. If the water drains very slow then the air pipe or the sewer pipe may be clogged. This may involve a professional plumber with a plumbing snake to fix it.

toilet diagram partsToilet Diagram Parts Identification

Another issue that can cause this type of problem is the toilet wax ring under the toilet. The wax rings purpose is to make an airtight seal between the sewer pipe and the toilet. (See image above for wax ring location) This airtight seal makes it so the water leaving the toilet makes a vacuum which pulls any solids down and into the pipe. You can usually tell if the wax ring is not sealing if you smell the odor from the sewer line under the toilet. That air will find its way in between the toilet and wax ring if there is a problem with the wax ring. If you suspect the wax ring under the toilet to be the issue, you can replace it yourself. Here is how to replace the wax ring on your toilet.

toilet wax ring kitToilet wax ring kit

If after replacing the wax ring the toilet still drains slowly, then the sewer pipe is clogged. It will be your responsibility to pay for cleaning it out if it is between the main sewer line and your house. Somewhere, there should be a clean out opening near the main line. From the clean out opening, your water company or your County takes over from there. If you have tried everything and you are sure your toilet is operational, there is no issue with the toilet wax ring, and the pipes you are responsible for are cleaned and free of any blockage, call your water company. Tell them the issue and see if they can send someone to check. If you are not sure if the issue is on your side or the water companies, it may be best to call a professional plumber even before calling the water company. Tell them the issue in detail and see what they recommend.

Toilet auger or snake to unclog toilet pipeUse a toilet auger or plumbing snake to unclog toilet pipe

If calling a plumber and spending about $150 to have them come out and snake your pipes is too much money for your budget, you can do it yourself if you buy your own plumbing snake or toilet auger. They are easy to use and are a good investment as any other plumbing clogs or blockages you have in the future you can repair yourself.

If you know of other ways to fix a toilet that drains slow and will not completely empty when flushed, please leave a comment below to assist our other readers.

ALLEN VETTER - DIY Repair Assistant
Allen is a Home Maintenance/Appliance Tech and the author/creator of this website. He has 33 years of experience troubleshooting and repairing all types of appliances. Contact here

6 thoughts on “Toilet Is Not Clogged But Drains Slow And Does Not Completely Empty When Flushed”

  1. Ongoing slow draining toilet. Our house is 5 years old and after about the fourth year, one of our toilets started not flushing. We have had plumbers here the toilet has been snaked. Pulled out snaked again a camera has gone down the pipes. The toilet has been switched out for another and its worse. It is now plugging every couple of weeks and taking more effort to get working. Any more advice. There is zero problem with the shower and sink.

    1. I have similar ongoing issue for more than 6 months now. Spent a lot of money for plumbing services that didn’t work well.

      In my case, the issue has been getting worse and worse, and after some plumbers snaked and removed a bunch of hair out from the water pipes, now the toilet and the bathtub backing up with sewage.

      In the early of May, I’ve replaced the toilet as a plumber suggested. (The old toilet was installed 1.5 years ago, so it was not old. )
      The plumber who replaced the toilet mentioned that “The drain under the old toilet is pretty much flat and there is a little bit of water sitting. The new toilet should flush properly and not cause any blocking.”
      However I got the same issue just 2 weeks later.
      Since the plumbing company was not available at that time I had to have another plumbing company to send a technician.
      This plumber found the flush roof air pipe was clogged. Just after this technician cleaned the air pipe it looked better.

      However, it’s about 4 weeks now since I had a plumber last time, my family said they saw bathroom sink drains slow, and when they took a shower gurgling or bubbling coming from the toilet. They also mentioned that water level in the bowl is low… and all those are the same before the new toilet was installed.
      When I had a look at it, bathroom sink drain looks normal, toilet flushes. Water level in the bowl and the tank are not too low not too high. But I guess the same issue could be occurred in next week or two.

      If you’re still suffered by your drain issue, it might be because of the toilet itself (like I had to replaced mine), or air pipe might be clogged.
      I hope you’ve already fixed your issue… if so, could you share your experience please? It would be really appreciated.

  2. Things to try based upon my experience: Assuming good water coming into the bowl from the flapper – for slow water circling in the bowl, (solids will not flush down), the water level slow to drop, shut off the water supply to the tank, flush the toilet to drain most water and then remove the rest of the remaining water from the bowl with a small cup or bottom of a juice bottle and a sponge or paper towel to soak up the balance. Use rubber gloves. Next put vinegar in the bowl (enough to cover the drain portion) and let it sit overnight. Check other websites to see if they give a more exact time. I think 24 hours worked for me. This will soften up the calcium build-up in the 3/4 inch or so hole in the draining part of the bowl. Use a wooden stick or a soft plastic article to gently help dislodge this calcium when you flush down the vinegar. Do not scrape (with a metal object) or damage the porcelain. The calcium crumbles when soaked long enough, so removal with an blunt object should be simple. I did not get everything out but the water flow improved. Waiting longer was all I needed to do to get more out. I also clean, sort of wipe, around the inner bowl rim to hopefully remove any slime or build-up that may impede the water coming down the inner bowl sides.

    For a second type of more sudden slowness of flushing or an unexpected clog, an hardware man once told me to pour hot water into the bowl from a full pail of water held reasonably high (watch for splashing) 10 times, meaning 10 pails. This will soften the paper in the pipe. He said Kleenex is too strong and harder to break down. Toilet tissue breaks down easier. The heat speeds up the breakdown of a clog. The height helps apply pressure. Make sure you do not overflow the bowl. Have towels ready. So the lesson is as well, do not put Kleenex or heavier papers down the bowl.

  3. Great article. In my case, the issue was resolved by cleaning out the little hole in the bottom of the bowl that shoots water into the drain/trap. We have very hard water here and the hole was full of mineral build-up. It was fairly easy to clear with a brush and some CLR.

  4. Your tip to replace the wax ring in my toilet to stop it from running slowly will help me to fix it. My toilet has been running slowly for two weeks, so I need to do something about it right away. It’s good to know that I should try to unclog my sewer pipe if that doesn’t work. I’m pretty sure that it isn’t clogged, but I’ll keep that in mind in case replacing the wax ring doesn’t work.

  5. I’m going to buy my own plumbing snake, since I’ve got an older toilet and each time a plumber’s come out it’s been an easy fix after snaking the drain. I feel like this will save me a lot of money in the long run.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.