Plumbing Mystery

I have a mysterious semi-functioning toilet. We roto-rootered some roots from deep in the drain the other day, and had to remove the commode from its connection. Re-connected, and it worked as well as ever. But now, sometimes it flushers, sometimes it backs up adn I havn’t worked out why.
My wife thinks we didn’t line up the gasket right, but I’m not sure at all. Anybody else out there have a theory?

Toiletology 101 might help.

Assuming you’re sure that all the crud got successfully rootered out of your pipes and that everything worked correctly before this operation, then the gasket is one possibility. As far as I know (and it’s amazing how mysterious to me the operation of a simple toilet remains), the initial flush creates a siphon that sucks stuff through the pipe. If your gasket isn’t airtight, I suppose you might not be getting that siphon set up properly.

Another possibility could be venting – if the vent to your plumbing got clogged somehow, that could cause this problem.

I’m beginning to think it may be a problem with the vent-there are gurgling noises when other drains are at work. I’m vexed that this problem would show up right after clearing the drain. I suppose it’s thinkable that fixing the one problem made the other one worse.

Thanks for the link, Finagle! Time for me to study…

When you pulled the Rooter out of the pipe, some crud probably got pushed up into the vent “stack” - happily, this should be easy to fix. If you still have the rooter and it’s not too bulky, go up on the roof and find the vent for the toilet and run the rooter through it. Another thing that often works is to simply flush it using a garden hose.

If you goofed on the wax ring when you re-installed, you’d be more likely to have a wet floor and nasty smells. (You did use a new wax ring, right?)

‘gotpasswords’ is right on flushing out the vent stack as one possibility.
If you are connected to a ‘city’ sewer check the flow at the manhole where your waste line enters the city system. If you are on an homsite septic tank You may have a whole new ball game. The inlet to the septic tank may be partially block, the outlet blocked, or the drainfield overloaded.
Flushing the commode siphons the waste and most of the water out of the bowl. Any restriction or blockage downstream from that point is possible. The float valve refills the bowl for the next victim/user.
It would be difficult to install the NEW wax ring seal gasket wrong but not impossible.

I thought of venting immediately, but didn’t want to jump in to just ‘cast a vote’ for that as the problem.

Venting can be very important because it gets dangerous sewer gases out of the house. Sewer gases can be poisonous/explosive.

I located the pipe where it exits through the roof; it seems to continue past the washing machine where it changes from steel to PVC. Tomorrow I’m going to get a few supplies to repair the PVC, cut it, and try to snake out the vent. Wish me luck…
Thanks to all for the replies!

So today I cut the vent pipe, cleared it of massive amounts of debris, saw daylight through it, and still the drain backs up. Hmph.
When I ran water into it (remember, the vent also has the washing machine empty into it), there was much bubbling from the toilet. Tomorrow I’m going to pull the toilet back up from the floor, run the drain, and see if it still fills up.

  Any other theorys?

Have you run a garden hose into the roof vent yet, and given it a good flushing?

No, I snaked it and blew a large volume of air through it. I’m pretty convinced the vent isn’t the problem now. I suspect the main pipe is clogged or collapsed out in the yard. Groan.

Forgot to mention: another drain exists in the basement, several feet below the toilet and capped for several years. I uncapped it, and of course there was a geyser. The stoppage must be below that.

No need to remove the toilet then. You’ve go a clean out.