Easy fixes for a stubborn clogged toilet

It's always untimely and sometimes embarrassing, but a blocked toilet needn't mean a call to the plumber. Take these steps to get everything flowing freely again.

Easy fixes for a stubborn clogged toilet

The toilet is completely blocked

Start with some gentle persuasion

Don't panic if your toilet doesn't flush. One of the below techniques should help ease a blockage and get your toilet running properly again.

  • Don't keep flushing. Adding water will most probably just cause an overflow.
  • Poke the blockage to break it up; use a toilet brush or straightened coat hanger.
  • Add some dishwashing liquid to the bowl and pour in very hot water to help loosen the blockage.
  • Add a box of baking soda followed by a bottle of white vinegar. Allow the mixture to fizz for a while. Then add around four to five litres (five quarts) of hot water to keep the chemicals active — this should help to move the blockage.

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It’s still backed up

Clear the bowl with a pressure blast

Use a yogurt carton to bail out as much water as possible from the toilet bowl. Put the waste water into a bucket for disposal later.

  • Fill a two-litre plastic bottle with hot water. Keeping your thumb over its opening for as long as possible, push the top of the bottle down hard into the bottom of the toilet to make a tight fit. Hold the bottle firmly in place with both hands and squeeze it hard so the hot water shoots out into the toilet drain to dislodge the clog.
  • Try a conventional plunger. Make a tight seal around the hole and pump the plunger to force pressurized water around the bend.
  • Connect a hose to your water supply and push its end as far as possible down the toilet. Turn on the hose to blast the blockage out.

Discard the waste water in the bucket by pouring it down the working toilet; disinfect the bucket and the plunger.

The toilet bowl overfills with water

Cure a partial blockage

If the water level in the toilet rises high after flushing, but slowly returns to its normal level, the waste pipe is partially blocked.

  • Try quickly emptying a full bucket of hot water into the bowl — the sudden additional pressure may push through the obstruction.
  • If this doesn't work, try unblocking the toilet. A downstairs toilet that you cannot clear may indicate a blockage in the soil pipe or main drain.

Warning

When dealing with a blocked toilet, gear up with rubber gloves, old clothes and eye protection to mitigate against splashes. Cover the floor with newspapers to catch any spills.

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