Fixing A Toilet That Wouldn’t Flush (Without Tearing up the Entire Bathroom)

August 28, 2018

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It’s been just about a year since we finished the girls’ bathroom (see all the afters right here!), but while we were tackling our own bathroom renovation, there was a solid month that we thought we were going to have to tear it up and start over. It was a dark time and if it wasn’t for one of our readers–we would have!

For the majority of this year, the girls’ toilet was sluggish. You flushed and held your breath that it would actually flush. It got to the point where we didn’t even feel comfortable having guests use that toilet–because we didn’t want them to be stuck in a situation. (Oh dear, this post is going to be a lot of actual potty talk. ) This was a challenge because this WAS the bathroom that is shared with the guest room.

So, while the plumber was working on our bathroom upstairs, we had him take a look at it. He took off the toilet and there was standing water. Not. Good. He said there was either something stuck in the pipe and he could snake it out (our fingers were crossed for that!) or the drain was put at an incline instead of a decline when moved (worst case scenario). Unfortunately, for us, after a lot of scoping and snaking–it was determined that the drain was at a slight incline and the floor had to be torn up for it to be fixed to the tune of a few thousand dollars. I cried. 

A month later, after I composed myself (it really took that long), I mentioned it in one of our CLJ Q&As, and a follower (I wish I could find the message because they are my literal angel!) clued us in about a similar problem they had at their home and how they solved it with a power flush toilet. Most toilets use gravity to assist with the flushing, but since our line had to work against gravity, our standard toilet wasn’t working properly. Power flush, or pressure-assist, toilets use less water but flush with more force than a standard gravity powered toilet. Inside the tank there’s a sealed plastic container filled with air. When flushed, this pressure releases, forcing water into the bowl at a high velocity.

After a little bit of research and watching a lot of disgustingly fascinating YouTube videos, we settled on the Gerber Ultra Flush Siphon Jet Tank in White, with a round bowl at standard height (they literally flushed 7lbs of fruit salad down it in a video!). This was our last ditch effort. We weren’t sure it was going to work, but we’d rather spend $250 on a toilet trying, than tearing up the entire bathroom.

And…It worked! We’re so relieved. The caveat is the flush is super loud–think of a gas station toilet. But, on the plus side, there’s never any fear or concern about if it is going to flush. It’s the opposite of a sluggish flush. It’s confident! And we don’t have to tear up the whole pretty bathroom. (Back to back to back bathroom renovations would have definitely killed me.)


Wall Color: Farrow & Ball Calamine
Double Wall Sconce: Schoolhouse Electric
Single Wall Sconce: Schoolhouse Electric
Mirrors: Target
“Mask” by Jennifer Ament: Serena & Lily
Sink Faucet : Delta Faucet
Faucet Handles: Delta Faucet
Towel Bar
: Amazon
Shower Head
: Delta Faucet
Shower Curtain Rod: Amazon
Towel Ring
: Amazon
Toilet Paper Stand
: Amazon
Drawer Knobs:
Tub Spout
:Delta Faucet
Shower Valve
:Delta Faucet
Cabinet Pulls
: Rejuvenation
Toothbrush Holder
: Pottery Barn
First Aid Box
: McGee & Co
Bath Towels
: Target
: McGee & Co
Hand Towel
: McGee & Co
Subway Tile
: Wayfair
Floor Tile
: Cle Tile 
: Wayfair
Linen Closet
: Pottery Barn
: McGee & Co
: McGee & Co
Striped Linen Tray
: McGee & Co 
84″ Shower Curtain
: Restoration Hardware
Over-The-Door Hook: The Container Store
Warm Gray
Tile Chair Rail

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What do you think?

  1. Brianna says:

    Did you use a schlutter along the tile edge?? White??

  2. Shauna says:

    Oh my goodness!!!! Thank you so much for sharing this! Our half bath has the same problem and we’ve spent hundreds having a plumber come out to auger/snake it. I’ve been looking for updated toilets anyhow but didn’t know about this “power flush.” That’s definitely what we need since our line is clear. Thank you!!

  3. Red Ellie says:

    I’m not sure it would be quite as elegant as your Privé sign in the new master bath, but perhaps a beautifulrustic or back & white little sign for this bath…
    Something like…”Caution-Loud Flush!”

  4. Claudine says:

    That reader is a lifesaver! So glad you guys didn’t have to rip out the floor! :)

  5. Emily says:

    This has got to be one of the funniest posts you’ve ever made. Describing the new toilet as confident about made me spew coffee. LOL Have you seen any of the Trolls movies/shows on Netflix? There’s a very funny scene where they have Mr. Dinkles in a pet competition. They are judging the “firmness of butts” haha…and his butt is described as “very confident!” …the weird things we watch for our children.

  6. Laura says:

    OMG this is the best story! I would have cried if you had to tear up that stunning floor too! Also thank you so much for sharing. This is such good info to have in the back of your head. Still chuckling over the fruit salad.

  7. Sarah says:

    Wow! So glad you found a solution to the problem without tearing everything out.

    Did you have a permit and, if so, did your city inspector still pass the plumbing?

  8. Jill says:

    We chose one that flushes a bucket of golf balls. It’s absolutely fabulous!!

  9. NancyS says:

    Wow – this is SO good to know!
    My last house had a “hold your breath” will the toilet flush this time, main bathroom.
    And this was after a bathroom renovation too. Hmmmm.
    I chuckle to myself that the new toilet in the new house is still my favorite feature after 8 years.
    But one never knows and this is such good info to file away in the brain :)

  10. Angie RS says:

    I’m feeling way too much relief over a stranger’s bathroom floor, but that tile is gorge and I’m so happy you didn’t have to jackhammer it.

  11. Rosalind says:

    I’m just dying about the 7 lbs of fruit salad. LOL!!! So glad you didn’t have to rip the bathroom out.

  12. JG says:

    (they literally flushed 7lbs of fruit salad down it in a video!) ….
    I can’t wait to look up this video when I get home from work to look up this video, lol.

    Also, I often wonder about this when hiring out work. Because the plumbing was installed incorrectly is there any recourse through the plumber to have them correct the work for free (or at a steep discount)?

    • Julia says:

      So it was a different plumber originally and we notified him just so he would know. But other than that, there was no recourse and we didn’t trust him to fix it to be honest.

      • JG says:

        I absolutely wouldn’t allow them to do the work either, but I’m wondering if this would be something that the plumber’s insurance would cover? Luckily in your case it’s just a few hundred dollars, so it’s not too big of a deal. I’m always told to make sure contractors are insured, I’m wondering if this would be a real-life example of why you make sure the people you hire are covered.

      • Julia says:

        If we ended up having to tear out the bathroom, we’d definitely pursue that.

  13. Lindsey says:

    Hooray! Thanks for sharing an update + and hopefully a solution that will save others $$ as well!

  14. Winnie says:

    Readers/Followers to the rescue! So awesome. I am glad that you were able to find a solution that did not include tearing into your floor. In our last house we opted for a toilet that was ~$900 in order to avoid $5,000 worth of plumbing work. WORTH IT!

  15. Michael Craft says:

    I laughed several times reading this post. Especially when you described the new flush as “confident”!???????? I’m so glad y’all found a solution that didn’t require a massive project!

  16. Allison says:

    Oh, yay for an easy solution! (And the ability to crowd-source ideas with your readers!) I had to laugh at the 7 pounds of fruit flushing capabilities. That is… intense. ????

  17. Julia says:

    How are cement tiles holding up? Do they stain easily?

  18. Naomi says:

    Oh my gosh, it’s the exact problem I’m having (and had in my last apartment, too) only I’m unfortunately in a rental and my landlord doesn’t care. I use toilet tablets to keep the water opaque, colored blue, and fragrance free. It frustrates me to no end.

  19. Molly says:

    Phew!! I’m so glad that worked out! AND without tearing up that gorgeous tile! I would MUCH rather have a loud toilet that confidently flushed than a sluggish one that maybe won’t work (talk about anxiety inducing as a guest!)

  20. Michelle says:

    This was exactly what I was going to recommend for you all! We had to install a rear-ejection power flush toilet in our half bath and went with one by American Standard. Yes, it is louder, but after dealing with telling guests to hold the handle down for like 7-8 seconds when using the bathroom this is so much better. We’re just sure not to tell them how loud it is so we get a good laugh at their surprise ;-).

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