Best techniques to unclog a toilet

The flush toilet may be a miracle of modern plumbing, but when it doesn’t actually flush its contents away, things can get unpleasant. Luckily, unclogging a toilet is one of the more straightforward do-it-yourself plumbing jobs you can take on. Before calling in a plumber, check out these four easy techniques for fixing your clogged toilet. [Photo Credit: istock.com/GregorBistor]

 

Best techniques to unclog a toilet

Time: Minimal
Frequency: N/A
Difficulty: Easy
Tools: Toilet plunger, toilet snake.

Good to know!

When faced with a clogged toilet, remember to flush only once. Flushing a second time simply adds more water to the bowl if the pressure of the water doesn’t dislodge the clog. This can lead to messy overflow onto your bathroom floor.

Step 1: How to plunge a toilet

A toilet plunger should be a staple in every home. They are relatively inexpensive and are your primary go-to method for unclogging a toilet. Toilet plungers typically consist of a long wooden handle with a rubber bell-shaped flange on the end.

  • First, prepare for messy spills or splashes. Lay newspaper or old towels around the base of the toilet.
  • Then, grasp the wooden stem of the toilet plunger wherever is the most comfortable for you.
  • Place the rubber flange over the toilet opening to the drain and push down so that the rubber flange is inverted to get a better seal.
  • Your first push down on the wooden stem should be gentle to release any air held in the bell-shaped rubber end.
  • Then, vigorously push down and pull up with the wooden stem so that the rubber flange both forces water into the drain and sucks it out.
  • Be patient; dislodging the clog may take several plunges.

Step 2: Using a toilet snake

Most of the time, the toilet plunger will dislodge the clog. If it doesn’t, move on to the toilet snake.
A toilet snake can be purchased at any hardware store. While it comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, it typically consists of a long wire coil with a corkscrew-like tip.

  • Feed the end of the toilet snake into the toilet drain.
  • Once you encounter the clog, turn the snake clockwise.
  • The toilet snake will either screw into the clog and break it up, or enable you to pull the clog out of the toilet.

 
Good to know!

While an inexpensive toilet snake will do the job, some of the more expensive options have a rubber coating to protect your toilet bowl from scratches.

Step 3: Check out an enzyme approach

If you’re sure that the toilet clog is due to toilet paper or, well, natural causes and not a toy or some other foreign object, and the toilet plunger and snake haven’t done the job, you might want to try an enzyme waste-removal product.

  • Check out your local hardware or plumbing store for an enzyme product containing a mixture of enzymes that are designed to liquefy waste.
  • Read the directions on the container carefully and pour the recommended amount of the enzyme into the toilet bowl.
  • Wait the recommended amount of time – usually overnight – and the clog should disintegrate and the toilet will flush normally.

Step 4: Make your own drain cleaner

For toilet clogs due to natural waste, a homemade drain cleaner can also do the trick.

  • Heat at least two litres (approximately ½ gallon) of water. A smaller amount won’t give you  the force to push through and break up the clog.
  • Do not use boiling water as it can damage the porcelain of the toilet bowl. The point is to raise the temperature of the water around the clog.
  • Pour one cup of baking soda and two cups of vinegar into the toilet bowl. The mixture will fizz.
  • Pour the hot water into the bowl; the force may penetrate the clog.
  • Leave the mixture of water, baking soda and vinegar to stand overnight.
  • Flush and hopefully the toilet clog will clear.

 
Good to know!

Plumbers do not recommend using commercial drain clearing chemicals. These have the potential to damage pipes in the plumbing system. Check with a professional if in doubt about which product to use.

If the toilet clog is stubborn and refuses to budge, it could be that you need to call a plumber to remove the toilet and investigate further. But in most cases, plunging, snaking, or using natural enzymes will solve the problem. So the next time your toilet clogs, don’t panic — you’ve got this.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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