How to Unclog a Toilet
Stuck with a clogged toilet in your bathroom? Well, you’ve come to the right place! Clogged toilets are a common issue that homeowners will face every now and then, and can get frustrating at times. Follow these steps to unclog your toilet like a professional plumber!
Now that you’re prepared, follow these steps:
Step 1: Once you notice the toilet is clogged, prevent the toilet from overflowing with water by turning off the water. Do not try to unclog your toilet by continuously flushing it.
Step 2: Cover the floor around the toilet with old towels or paper towels to prevent a mess
Step 3: Grab your rubber gloves and toilet plunger and insert the plunger in the toilet with the rubber cup covering the trapway hole completely
Step 4: Vigorously pump the handle of the plunger for 5-10 minutes. You’ll notice the water in the bowl will begin to drain. This may take a few tries depending on how clogged the toilet is.
Step 5: Take the plunger out of the toilet and set it aside. Turn the water back on and try flushing the toilet once to see if it is unclogged.
Step 6: If you flush once and the toilet is still clogged, repeat steps 4 and 5 until the toilet is unclogged and the flush is back to normal.
Hacks for Stubborn Clogs
Sometimes a plunger just isn’t enough to fix the even the most stubborn clogs. If you find yourself exhausted after repeatedly using the plunger with no results, have no fear! Try these hacks to help loosen the clog.
Avoiding Future Clogs Starts with a High Performance Toilet
Are you finding that it doesn’t take much to clog your toilet and that you’re constantly busting out the plunger? Make sure that you are only flushing toilet paper. Flushing common toiletries such as facial tissues, cotton swabs, tampons, or dental floss can easily clog your toilet because they do not break down in water. Alternatively, if you own an older toilet, you may want to invest in a new toilet for your bathroom, as some older toilets are engineered with weaker flushing power. American Standard offers a variety of toilets that have high performance flushing technology that can last for years to come. The Champion collection of toilets range from a 1.28 – 1.6 gallons per flush flow rate, and are EPA WaterSense Certified to help conserve water
Choosing a Toilet
A head-to-head comparison for our readers with nothing to go on
At first the toilets in our house were merely sluggish. Then they got slower and slower until they didn’t flush at all. But the toilets weren’t clogged. Something was in the sewer line. So I rented a sewer snake, unscrewed the clean-out and fed the hungry snake down the chute. In it went 10 ft., 25 ft., 40 ft. Still, the pipe didn’t drain. As I pondered the problem, my young son stuck his head out the window, his little fists full of his favorite action figures, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. “Turtles live in the sewer, Daddy,” he said.
Gone are the days when we could flush toys.
After our sewer was deturtled and the attendant blockage removed, our toilets flushed magnificently. What was amazing was that all those Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles could ever have been flushed down the toilet at all. But those were the days of the 5-gal. flush. With that much water chasing after them, an entire flotilla of Ninja Turtles could’ve been flushed home at once-and might have been.
How 1.6-gal. gravity toilets work
Regardless of price or style, all gravity toilets depend on gravity to pull the water-and waste-through the system (drawing right). When the handle is pushed, a flush valve opens, and the water in the tank drains into the bowl, either through rim openings, through the large siphon-jet opening across from the drain at the bottom of the bowl or through a combination of both. The gravity-fed speed of the water pushes the waste through the trap and into the drain.
Old 5-gal. toilets and new 1.6-gal. gravity toilets work the same way. The tank holds the water above the bowl. The lever opens the flush valve, which lets the water rush out of the tank into the bowl, either through rim holes, a siphon hole or both. In the bowl, the pressure of the water rushing down the drain creates a vacuum or siphon effect that draws the waste with it. Meanwhile, an automatic valve refills the emptied tank.
What this country needs is plunger lessons
Complaints against the 1.6-gal. toilet include sluggish or incomplete flushing; a small “water spot,” as the area of the toilet bowl water surface is called; staining; and the need to double-flush or triple-flush. Critics say that if a 1.6-gal. toilet is flushed more than twice, it uses more water than the now illegal 3.5-gal. toilets.
Tips For Preventing Toilet Troubles
It’s safe to say there are a lot of people who are afraid to mess with household plumbing – and we understand that. Plumbing can be scary if you don’t know what you’re doing, and nobody wants to be responsible for their house flooding, the toilet spewing sewage all over the bathroom, or pretty much anything else that involves large quantities of water or human waste being anywhere that it doesn’t belong. However, knowledge is power, and as a general rule, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The very best thing you can do for your home’s plumbing is also the easiest: maintain it.
DO clean your toilet regularly with a mild cleaner. Vinegar, baking soda, or a mild soap are all great for regular porcelain cleaning. Not only does cleaning your toilet help you keep a more hygienic, better smelling bathroom, it also gives you the opportunity to spot a leak or a problem with your bathroom’s plumbing fairly quickly. If you never really clean up around the toilet area, how will you know if that water on the floor is from your shower, your toilet, or the sleepwalking male members of your household?
DON’T use chemical drain cleaners to unclog your toilet. While some plumbers say ‘yea’ and others say ‘nay’ when it comes to using these products, we say it’s just not worth the risk. Not only are these products harmful to your health if accidentally splattered on your skin, consumed, or even inhaled too much, they can damage older fixtures and pipes, and really aren’t something anyone wants in our water systems. They can also cause a lot of trouble for homes with septic systems if they kill off the good bacteria in there.
DO inspect your toilet’s inner workings about every 6 months to make sure the components are still in good shape and functioning properly. Take the tank lid off and flush the toilet. Watch the components work, making sure the flapper is sealing well and the fill valve stops running at an appropriate water level.
DO fix a running or leaking toilet right away. Toilet leaks are typically “silent”, in that you won’t necessarily find a puddle of water on the floor since the water is usually leaking out from the tank into the bowl (and down the drain). This makes it fairly easy to overlook the leak, or to keep putting off fixing it. Toilet leaks are generally slow leaks too, so you might not even notice a small increase in your bills each month until you look back and realize you’re paying $100 more for water this month than you did at the same time last year.
The Right Way to Use a Plunger
If your toilet’s overflowing or your sink’s stopped up, it’s time to take the plunge! About 90 percent of the time, a clog can be cleared with just a couple of thrusts of a plunger. To make the messy job easy, though, it’s important to have the right kind of plunger and the proper technique. As it turns out, not all plungers are created equal; some are best suited for sinks and showers, while others are appropriate for use on toilets. Once you’ve determined the best tool for the job, success is all about form. Contrary to popular practice, repeatedly flushing while frantically pumping won’t release the blockage any faster—instead, it will break the plunger’s seal and ruin the suction. To keep the water flowing freely down your pipes, avoid those amateur mistakes and learn to plunge like a pro with these valuable tips.
Pick the Perfect Plunger
Start at the very beginning: While there’s probably a shelf full of plungers available for purchase at your grocery or home improvement store, the two most common styles are the cup plunger and the flange. It’s smart to stock one of each and be familiar with their strengths so you can determine which one’s right for your mini-emergency.
The Cup: When you think of a plunger, the image that comes to mind most often is that of a simple wooden handle attached to a rubber cup. It’s this cup that gives the tool the name “cup plunger.” This design is most effective on flat-surface drains, which are found in the sink and bathtub. While it works well for a sink, shower, or bathtub clog, the cup plunger can’t create a sufficiently airtight seal in the curve of a toilet drain to produce adequate suction.
The Flange: A toilet clog calls for a different type of plunger entirely: the flange plunger, which has an extra ring of rubber (the flange) around the cup. The flange is inserted into the toilet drain, sealing in the air and increasing the suction power. In a pinch, you can fold the rubber ring back into the bell of the plunger and use it to unclog a tub or sink drain, but a true cup plunger will be more effective.
Plunging a Sink, Shower, or Tub
When using a standard cup plunger, start by covering the overflow drain, if there is one, with a wet towel. Doing so prevents air from escaping and decreasing the suction power. While you’re at it, it’s a good idea to seal off any nearby drains in sinks or tubs to ensure better results. To further improve the plunger’s suction power, create a tighter seal by lining the rim of the cup with a small amount of petroleum jelly.
Unclog your toilet with this simple and ingenious trick — no plunger required
Over the course of many years, I’ve practiced and honed the ancient art of unclogging a clogged toilet without needing to use a plunger. Why not just buy a plunger? Simply put, I never needed to on account of this particular bit of washroom wizardry. This technique is especially handy if you ever find yourself staring down a stopped-up commode in someone else’s bathroom with no plunger in sight — a situation in which you might be understandably reluctant to call for backup.
I didn’t invent this particular process for plunging without a plunger — the same basic technique can be found all across the web on plumbing and DIY blogs, both mainstream and obscure — but I can attest to its power and might.
Most bathrooms have everything you’ll need
To perform this trick, you’ll need three things that can be found in almost any bathroom: soap, hot water and a vessel for transferring the water to the toilet bowl. Dish soap and a 5-gallon bucket work best, but if secrecy is paramount and leaving the lavatory would blow your cover, a small plastic waste bin and a few pumps from a hand soap dispenser will do just fine.
Mixing the magical potion
The objective is to get the liquid in the toilet bowl as hot and soapy as possible without letting it overflow. You can either pour (or pump) soap directly into the bowl and then add hot water, or you can mix the soap with the hot water before you add it to the bowl.
Carefully and gently add the hot water
Mixing everything up in the toilet bowl is the step requiring the most finesse. You want to raise the average water temperature and get the soap into every crevice, but you don’t necessarily want to create a slurry with what’s already in there.