The Water Level In Your Toilet Can Tell You Secrets About Your Plumbing

Have you recently noticed a difference in the water level of your toilet bowl fluctuate after flushing? Quick reference: The surface area of the water in your toilet is called the water spot. 

If there are no visible signs of leaks anywhere, then a few things could be causing your water levels to drop and knowing which issue you’re facing can help you determine how to raise the water level in your toilet bowl.

  • An air vent could be clogged and could be keeping the system from breathing. Think of your plumbing vent like you would a straw in a fountain drink. If you place the straw into the drink and put your thumb over the top of the straw the liquid will stay trapped in the straw. It isn’t until you remove your thumb that the liquid flows back out of the straw.  Your vent system works in much the same way. If your vent is blocked it isn’t allowing air to balance the system correctly. If water is rushing paste the toilet it’s trying to draw air into the system. Instead, it can pull the water from the trap in your toilet lowering the water level. 
  • Water is settling at a lower level because a waste pipe is not set correctly. If the waste piping isn’t level is can cause the water in the toilet bowl to settle at a different angle or a different level. 
  • There could be a small crack in the porcelain in the trap leading to an internal leak. This is fairly common and it’s the toughest to figure out. Most pinhole leaks in vitreous china plumbing fixtures are internal. Manufacturers can spot external pinholes during testing and quality control. If all else fails and you remove the toilet you’ll most likely find the floor wet from the water leaking internally.  

Your toilet is basically a very large plumbing trap that receives both liquid and solid waste. Water is introduced to the system via a flush valve and the water is evacuated through the trap. The water in the bowl acts as a barrier to keep gas in the sewage piping from leaking into the bathroom. If the level of the water in the toilet bowl gets below a certain level, you will eventually smell sewer gas emanating from the waste lines.

Clearing the clog from your plumbing vent that is causing low water levels requires locating the vent on your roof, uncapping it, and using a garden hose to spray water down it. Removing the blockage should return the water level in the toilet bowl to its normal level.

If the pipe that takes wastewater away when you flush is positioned towards the toilet instead of away, then the water left standing in the pipe could affect the level in the toilet bowl. Correcting this would involve removing the toilet to verify the waste pipe is pitched correctly to lead water away and not towards the toilet.

If there’s a small crack in the porcelain, the toilet should be replaced. Having a large water spot and a very high water level is a characteristic of toilets from the 3.5GPF era. With new low flow toilets, the water spot and water level have naturally shrunk. However, finding a low flow toilet with the largest water spot can improve functionality. Who knew you could diagnose plumbing system issues from the level of water in your toilet?

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