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Why Low Water Levels in the Toilet Occur?

Toilets are one of the most important – and most used – appliances in a home. When a problem arises, regardless of how seemingly small, it’s important to determine the problem and get it fixed as soon as possible.

One of the more common problems that homeowners experience is low water levels in the toilet.

How Does a Toilet Work?

In the simplest terms, a toilet operates on basic gravity. Once you press the flush handle, it lifts a rubber flapper, allowing the water in the tank to flow down into the bowl. This flow of water pushes waste and toilet paper from the bowl through the trap and into the main sewer line.

The water also fills the bowl up to the edge of an overflow pipe which helps maintain a steady water level. Normally,  this should be about an inch or two below the rim of the bowl.

The amount of water in a toilet bowl after a flush varies depending on the model and the manufacturer. However, typically, a standard toilet holds about 1.6 gallons of water in its tank and uses most of this for a single flush.

After the flush, the water refills, leaving a standing water level in the bowl that is about halfway up, approximately 5 to 6 inches from the bottom. This level is usually controlled by the design of the toilet bowl and the pathway, or trapway, which is built into the toilet. So, while we may not often think about our trusty toilets to this extent, they’re quietly and consistently keeping our homes running smoothly with this neat, gravity-based system!

Low Water Levels Causes and How To Fix Them

low water levels in the toilet

There are a few things that can cause low water levels in the toilet. 

Clogged Vents

The vents in your plumbing system allow air to flow and maintain proper pressure for water to flow. If these vents become clogged with debris, it can cause a vacuum effect and prevent proper water flow, resulting in low water level.

Fixing clogged vents is definitely within your DIY capabilities, but it’s not without its challenges. Firstly, you need to locate the vent, which is typically on the roof. Using proper safety precautions, get on the roof with a plumbing snake or a garden hose with a high-pressure nozzle.

Insert the hose or snake into the vent and gently feed it down. If you’re using a hose, turn on the water and let the pressure do the work. If you’re using a snake, twist and turn it to break up the blockage. Once you feel the blockage has been cleared (the water will start flowing more freely), remove the hose or snake.

Get back down from the roof (safely, remember!) and check your toilet. If the water level is back to normal, you’ve successfully unclogged the vent. If not, it might be time to call in a professional plumbing company.

Low Water Levels in Tank

If the water level in your toilet tank is too low, there won’t be enough pressure to push the water down into the bowl when you flush. This could be due to a faulty fill valve or damaged float ball.

The fill valve is the part of the toilet that regulates how much water is in the tank after a flush. If it’s not working properly, it may not be allowing enough water into the tank, which can result in low water levels in the bowl.

To fix this issue, you’ll need to adjust or replace the fill valve. This is a relatively simple fix, and many hardware stores sell replacement parts for various toilet models. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to properly adjust or replace the fill valve.

A damaged float ball can also cause low water levels in the toilet. The float ball is a small, but mighty, part of your toilet system that plays a critical role in maintaining the water level in your tank, and by extension, your bowl. Picture a small, plastic balloon that floats on top of the water in your toilet tank. When the tank is full, the float ball rises with the water level and signals the fill valve to stop letting water in.

Conversely, when you flush and the water level drops, the float ball also descends, telling the fill valve it’s time to refill the tank. If the float is damaged or maladjusted, it could fail to signali the fill valve correctly and leave you with a low water level.

You can often fix the issue by adjusting the arm the float is connected to, or replacing the float ball if it’s damaged. Fixing it is similar to adjusting or replacing the fill valve – simply follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Blocked Trapway

plumber repairing toilet with hand plunger closeup

If your toilet trapway (the passage where waste and water travel) is blocked, it can prevent proper water flow and result in low water level. This can be caused by objects accidentally falling into the bowl, such as small toys or excessive amounts of toilet  paper.

To clear a blockage in the trapway, you’ll need a toilet plunger. Make sure to use a flange plunger specifically designed for toilets, as regular plungers may not create enough suction to effectively clear the blockage.

Place the plunger over the opening in the bottom of the bowl and press down firmly. Then, quickly pull up to create suction. Repeat this motion a few times, and the blockage should clear.

If the blockage persists, you may need to use a plumbing snake or call in a professional plumber. In the future, be mindful of what is being flushed down your toilet to avoid potential blockages.

Damaged Bowl

In rare cases, low water levels in the toilet bowl may be due to a damaged bowl itself. If there are any cracks or leaks in the bowl, it can affect the water level and cause it to be lower than normal. In this case, it’s best to call a professional plumber to assess and fix the issue.

If you need more information, you can read our article on ‘Low Water Pressure Troubleshooting Tips for Lakeland Residents‘.

Don’t Ignore Low Water Level

While low water levels in your toilet may seem like a minor inconvenience, ignoring it could lead to bigger problems down the road. Not only can it be a sign of underlying issues in your plumbing system, but it also means your toilet is not functioning efficiently and may result in more water being used for each flush. This can lead to higher water bills and wasted resources.

Troubleshooting low toilet water is easy with a little bit of know-how and some simple tools.

Stronghold Plumbing In & Near Lakeland

When you need plumbing services, you need the best plumbers in and near Lakeland – Stronghold Plumbing & Septic. As a licensed and certified Florida plumbing company, we have the expertise to address all your plumbing needs.

Contact us today to ask about our free plumbing estimates.

FAQ’s – Low Water Levels in Toilet

Should I be concerned if the water level in my toilet is low?

You should not ignore low water level in your toilet, as it can be a sign of underlying issues and cause inefficiency in your toilet’s function.

Can I fix low water level in my toilet myself?

In some cases, such as clogged vents or damaged fill valves or float balls, you may be able to fix the issue yourself. However, if the problem persists or you are unsure of how to fix it, it’s best to call in a professional plumber.

How can I prevent low water level in my toilet?

Regular maintenance and being mindful of what is flushed down the toilet can help prevent potential issues that could lead to low water level. Additionally, make sure to address any plumbing issues promptly before they become more serious.

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