Can a toilet bowl be broken?

What’s in a toilet bowl? Is there a valve or something inside all that porcelain? If so, can the valve get stuck or break so that the toilet overflows. I opened a thread a few months ago about a toilet and I have narrowed the problem down to the bowl itself.
Let me be clear, its not the tank, its the bowl!

There’s no valve. There’s just a curved drain, so the water is held in because it’s not high enough to go over the curved part. When it flushes the momentum or a siphoning action carries even the water that is lower up and over the curve. Besides clogs the only thing I’ve heard of are cracks in the bowl unit, sometime on the inside passages of it rather than the outside. Also there’s the seal to the floor drain which can be compromised. What’s the problem with it?

Below the visible ‘bowl’ part, it’s nothing more than a bent ‘tube’.
Imagine a pipe that goes down, bends 180 degrees up for a few inches, then bends down 180 degrees again… that’s the part that makes a toilet functional. When you flush, the bowl fills up some, causing the water to pour down that tube. This causes a siphoning action, which pulls all the water through the tube, until air gets in, where the siphoning stops, and the bowl fills back up to its regular level.

That’s basically how it works… as to what’s wrong with yours, dunno… could be calcium buildup that’s causing it to clog easily… aside from that, we’ll let the other dopers have a stab at it…

There’s nothing mechanical in a typical bowl; just some fluid channels that direct water down the sides, sometimes a similar squirt hole at the bottom, and a great big siphon.
You can get overflow when something impedes the flow of the siphon. I had that problem once, and found a toothbrush wedged into angle of the siphon. It took a lot of rooting with a toilet snake to get it out.

WAG:Why of course it can be broken. It’s a ceramic and all you need is a large hammer or a medium sledge. :rolleyes:
OTOH it can be stopped up. An apple, base ball, or too much of something else too tough to flush.
An auger, plunger or similar items of the plumber’s trade are used.

All right! A plumbing question the day after I finished reading Flushed a history of plumbing! Fascinating and entertaining reading!

These guys described the basic mechanism fine, but I’d like to add a couple of points.

A significant element is the waste stack, going up through your roof. Englishman George Jennings invented the valveless toilet in 1852. The first toilet with an internal trap as these guys describe, was invented by another Britisher in 1870. But until the waste stack came into common use some time after that, flushing was an unreliable exercise, and the fumes were inadequately vented. The stack not only rids the odors, but also creates enough air pressure for an effective siphon.

Now here’s something I would like to hear confirmed by some plumbers on the board. According to W. Hodding Carter, the British and Europeans continue to use a “washout” model, where the waste in the bowl is pushed out by the flooding of the bowl, whereas the style prevalent in N. America, Canada, and Asia relies on the siphonic action to suck the waste out of the bowl.

Like I said - fascinating reading!

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Thanks for the picture.
The problems is that the bowl has filled to the point of overflowing. A few days ago, I removed the toilet and found that the bottom most part that connects to the drain was almost completely blocked with… well… you know… it was disgusting to clean out. Aha, I thought, thats the problem (I did check the drain for plugs and found none). After cleaning, I was confident that I would encounter no further problems. A few good flushes later, the water rose again almost to overflowing. Since then, now problem. I thought maybe a crapped up valve but now I know that’s impossible? Must be a suction problem.

Have you ever tried a plunger ? That usually works 99% of the time. Just about every home has one.

Aaah! What is the small round hole in the front of the bottom of the bowl for? The picture linked to just shows it… going up the front of the toilet.

Hell, I once broke one with a handheld propane torch. Not even on purpose. That was an ugly mess.

[quote[OTOH it can be stopped up. An apple, base ball, or too much of something else too tough to flush.[/QUOTE]

You really should look in to changing your diet. :eek:

A Saturday in December 1992 I was in the shower when the 'phone rang, I answered it and left the shower running.

The call was lengthy, when I went back to the bathroom the floor was covered in water.
I darted to turn off the shower, slipped backwards and did a perfect full body drop kick about 6" of the ground - straight into the toilet bowl. It imploded.

It was a nightmare getting and fitting a replacement on a Saturday.

@Solko, toilets pipes need some way for air to get into the down pipe, typically the down pipe also goes up above the roof (I’ve just inspected mine) if you have a bird’s nest in the top inlet, then it could explain your problems.

Sounds like a clog to me. But it might be in the sewage pipes of your house, rather than in the toilet itself. The blockage you cleaned out could have been a symptom, not the cause.

Step one: Go at the toilet with a plunger a few times. Hmm, given the smart-alec content of the board: I mean plunge the toilet, not strike the toilet. :slight_smile:
Step two: Do you hear any sucking sounds in nearby tubs / showers / sinks? Does nastiness ooze up from their drains? If so, there’s a blockage “downstream” from where the toilet outflow meets up with the outflow of the tub / shower / sink.

I had this happen to me. The toilet would fill up, but if you left it alone for a while it’d eventually get down to below normal water level. At one point, plunging of the toilet caused a toothbrush to pop up out of the shower drain. :eek: At that, I called up a professional plumber. A quick snaking of the pipes cleared up the problem.

His tip: those “personal wipes” that claim to be flushable? They usually aren’t. Give them a straight pipe to the city sewer and they may be ok. But bends / joins in the pipes or narrow outflows can give them a place to set up a home for themselves.

When I plunge, I do not hear any sucking in any other drains. I did notice that the drains from the two sinks in the same bathroom drain into the toilet pipe. I can tell this from looking at the pipes in the basement. I know this is not right but I don’t know if its worth fixing. The two sinks that run into this pipe do not have any trouble draining and never have. This led me to believe that any blockage would have to be before these two pipes connect. I did a quick snake with a garden hose when I had the toilet off and there was no blockage.
I’ve had the nasty stuff cleaned out of the toilet for about a week and haven’t had a problem yet but I do suspect that the clog was a symptom not a problem.

Can a toilet bowl be broken
bye and bye lord, bye and bye
there’s a better flush a comin’
from this guy, lord, from this guy

Leaves or bird’s nests can clog these and make your toilet malfunction. Since you’ve cleared the downstream plumbing and still have problems, a trip to the roof with a long pole or garden hose is in order.

This sounds about right, since toilets in Europe tend to have quite a small amount of water in the bottom of the bowl (maybe a litre or two) and a fairly vigourous flush whereas toilets in the US seem to be half-full of water all the time and just drain and refill.
Which is more water-efficient? I have never quite understood the point of having a half-full toilet bowl at all times, but presumably there must be some reason for going with the US-style design.

Yup. Just took a 12 lb sledge to a toilet last weekend myself… (for real). Took one swing to get it out.

I’ll 16th the idea of something stuck. For me, the cranky john had a carpenter’s pencil…