Why Does My Toilet Constantly Back Up? | APT

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Posted by APT Public Relations

As a homeowner, there aren’t many more things in life more aggravating than plumbing issues. It’s especially frustrating when toilets won’t flush properly or toilets back up. They are probably one of the most used fixture in your home. If you find that your toilet is backing up or not emptying out as it should, here are a few common reasons for the back up and some ways to fix the issues.

Not Enough Water

It could be that there’s not enough water in the tank. This issue is becoming more and more of an issue as more low-flow toilets are becoming popular. Early models of the low-flow toilets just didn’t have enough strength to get the job done. While the idea of water conservation is a great on paper, frankly, toilets need a bit more water to work properly. Toilet manufacturers are working on this issue, but that won’t help if you’re having an issue now.


If there’s not enough pressure to move the contents through, then those contents won’t get through your pipes to the sewer line, either. The first thing you should do is check the age of the toilet if you don’t already know it. There should be a stamp on the tank letting you know the year in which it was made. If it was made from 1994 to 1997, those models of low-flow toilets weren’t very strong, so you’ll need two flushes. You could also help these models by limiting the amount of toilet paper you put in there.

The next thing you can do is to raise the water level in your tank. This is done by adjusting the level or balloon in the tank. The higher it is, the more water that is in the tank. The more water in the tank, the more powerful the flush will be.

Another step to try is to tighten the chain that is attached to the flap. When it’s loose, the flap closes quickly. If it closes too quickly, then it won’t allow the flush to complete.

The last thing you could try is drain cleaner brought from your local DIY or hardware store. Lime or sediment could be causing a blockage. Even a small blockage can cause a toilet to back up on a regular basis.

There’s an Object in the Trap

Not to put the blame on the children, but many parents are familiar with this problem, and that is there is something stuck in the P-trap (or S-trap). It’s not unusual for kids to attempt (or succeed) at flushing a toy car, a ping-pong ball, or another item down the toilet. While we can’t always prevent this from happening, we know what to do when it does.

Your toilet’s P-trap has the job of preventing odors and sewer gases from coming through the toilet and into your home, but they are also there to prevent items like toys to go any further down the line. You also have these P-traps on your sink to prevent blockages, but they are much easier to get to and clean should you need to get something out of the trap. Your toilet’s P-trap could need cleaning the as your bathroom sink does, but it is much harder to get to.

The first thing you should do, if you’re confident enough, is use a plumber’s snake to attempt to clear the trap yourself. If you know for sure what the object is and you want the object back, you’ll need to remove the trap yourself since the item won’t be able to be retrieved by the snake. If you’re removing a P-trap from a sink, don’t forget to have a bucket positioned under the trap for catching the water and anything else that comes out of it.

You can also try a home remedy like vinegar to loosen a large piece of waste. Of course, this won’t work if it’s a solid object like a toy. If you aren’t sure that you want to try using a snake or if you don’t want to fool with a home remedy, give APT a call and we can take care of your issue right away.


You’re Flushing Things You Shouldn’t Be

It’s been mentioned that kids often try flushing objects down a toilet without anyone being aware, but adults often flush items down the toilet on purpose under the assumption that if it fits, it will be okay. The only things that should be flushed are human waste and toilet paper. Even facial tissue can cause an issue because they aren’t made to break down quite the way toilet paper is.

Common items that people flush that cause big issues are:


  • Sanitary napkins and tampons
  • Facial tissues
  • Cotton swabs
  • Paper towels
  • Condoms
  • Dental floss
  • Diapers


To curtail or put an end to these items getting flushed, it’s a good idea to put a wastebasket next to the toilet so that the next time someone is tempted to flush something they shouldn’t, it can be thrown in the wastebasket.

There’s a Clog in the Line

If there isn’t anything stuck in the toilet’s trap, then the next obvious place to check is your drain pipe. The drain pipe or sewer pipe is the main line that’s connected to your house and carries waste water away to the city sewer main.

When a blockage occurs past the toilet, there’s not much you can do on your own. It will likely require the help of a professional plumber. They will have the equipment to reach deep into the line coming from your toilet.

Before you call us at Advanced Plumbing Technology, we have one more trick that you can try yourself to determine if a clog in your drain line is the problem. Flush the toilet and then watch the sink, shower, or tub in the same room. If any water bubbles up or backs up into any other fixture, then you have a clog in the drain line. When the water is backing up into the tub or sink, that means a clog in the drain is preventing it from getting out of the house. Basically, it has no place else to go. Most of the time, this problem can be fixed from inside the house, but there could be a bigger problem outside.

The Main Line is Clogged

A mainline clog and a drain clog are about the same thing when you get down to it. Basically, something is in the way of your wastewater getting from your house to the sewer. The difference has to do with where the clog is located and how it gets removed.

A mainline clog occurs outside the house in the pipe that goes from the house to the neighborhood’s main sewer line. While the line is located outside the house, it is still on the homeowner’s property, so it is their responsibility to pay for repairs.

If the clog is outside the home, it’s much harder to get to and fix. Getting to a clog located in the pipes outside the house will require digging. Before digging starts, it’s a good idea to ask your plumber about having a video pipe inspection. This will cost money, but it will save you money later when it’s time to start digging. If the location of the clog is spotted with the camera, a spot can be marked on the ground above the clog. Not only will it prevent labor costs associated with unnecessary digging, but it will save your yard from unneeded trenches and holes.

Since the symptoms for a clogged line are the same whether it’s inside the house or outside the house, you can try the same test you performed to find out if the clog was inside your home. This time when you flush your toilet, do this from the first floor or basement if there is one. Watch for bubbling or gurgling in another area of the house, such as in the kitchen or in a different bathroom. Also, run the washing machine. If there only seems to be a problem showing up in one room of the house, the clog is in the line that is in the house, likely in that particular bathroom where you are conducting the test. If the kitchen and/or other bathroom are affected, then the problem is in the mainline running from your home to the main sewer line.

Advanced Plumbing Technology

The team at Advanced Plumbing Technology is in the business of helping people, and our business allows us to do that every day.  And even though the work we perform repairs and restores people’s homes and businesses, we know we are doing so much more than that. We are helping to restore and repair people’s lives.

We are available 24 hours a day 7 days a week to assist you with any problems or concerns you may have. Please, contact us with any questions you have about your plumbing needs.