The correct way to unclog a toilet
Let's face it - a clogged toilet is no fun. And, an over flowing toilet is even worse. In a few quick steps we will help you unclog your toilet and avoid an overflow.
Typically the first, and easiest, method to use to unclog a toilet is to use a plunger. However, many people are unaware that there actually is a "right" and "wrong" way to plunge a toilet.
The key to proper plunger usage is to push gently, and pull vigorously. Many people think that a forceful push into the plunger is what frees up the clog, but this can often worsen the problem. In fact, pushing the plunger in with enough force can even break the seal of the toilet gasket (the seal between the toilet and the floor where the plumbing exits). It is the pulling action that actually creates suction, which effectively and safely frees up the clog. Remember that whatever clogged the toilet got stuck on the way down, so the pulling action will likely be more effective in dislodging the clog, rather than pushing it further.
There is another common misconception about plungers, and that is which plunger to use. The most common plunger you may find in a home is a simple orange suction-cup style plunger. This style is actually more useful in the kitchen than the bathroom, since they are designed to mainly clear clogs from sinks, not toilets; these are used in the toilet with some success, but there are better tools for the job. The best types of plungers to use are either the ball-shaped style, or the type with a foldout-cup. The ball style has a thick rubber cup that provides a great seal and a good amount of pressure. The foldout cup style works well to create a seal, especially in toilets that have a unique shaped drain that is not exactly round.
There are two basic types of clogs that can occur in a household toilet: a slow-drainer or a no-drainer. A slow-drainer is when your toilet is clogged but water can still move past the clog allowing the water to drain very slowly. The majority of the time, a typical clogged toilet is a slow-drainer that can be cleared using a plunger. A no-drainer is just as the phrase implies - a complete stoppage - and there is no movement of the water in the bowl. This is usually due to an object completely obstructing the drain and may require the use of a toilet auger to remove.
Those with young children in the home could quite possibly experience more frequent, and possibly harder to remove, clogs depending on what has been flushed down the toilet. It seems many young children have an affinity for flushing things down the toilet and this can cause many parents unnecessary stress and unwanted plumbing bills if they do not know how to remedy the problem themselves. Not to worry, PlumbingSupply.com® is here to help!
Now that you know a bit about plungers and how to use them, its time to take the plunge!
Here are the items you'll need:
- Rags or newspaper
- Rubber gloves
Start by putting on some rubber gloves, and placing a few rags or newspaper on the floor around the toilet. Sometimes this can be messy.
Lift the seat and place the plunger into the toilet.
Make sure there is enough water in the toilet bowl to cover the head of the plunger. If there is not enough water in the bowl, carefully remove the tank lid from the toilet, reach inside the tank and gently pull the flapper up to allow enough water into the bowl to cover the plunger. We recommend this method, versus flushing the toilet again, because you can control the amount of water going into the bowl. If you flush a toilet while clogged, you run the risk of overflowing the toilet, creating a much larger mess then you'd care to deal with.
If there is too much water in the toilet you risk splashing yourself, or spilling it onto the floor. Empty some of the water into a bucket.
Let the air out of the plunger by tipping the head of the plunger towards the water surface; you will see a couple of big bubbles come out of the plunger. It is important to make sure you are pushing and pulling with water, not air.
Put the plunger in place, and make sure it covers the drain opening; this is necessary to create a seal. Then slowly and gently push the plunger in all the way. Use a series of short pushes until it is pushed in all the way. Then quickly pull up.
Use a series of gentle pushes and pulls, with the emphasis on pulling, to create a sort of rocking effect will help move the obstruction. Repeat these steps a few times until the toilet begins to drain.
If you needed to empty some of the water into a bucket, once the toilet has drained, empty the contents of the bucket into the toilet and flush. Clean the items you used and gloves with your disinfectant of choice. It's not a bad idea to take all of your tools outside and spray them off (away from children).
If your attempts to plunge the clog free are unsuccessful, it's time to give the auger a try. A toilet auger is a good tool to have around, and is fairly easy to use. If you were to call a plumber for a clogged toilet, the auger is usually the first thing they would reach for.
They come in different sizes and styles, and may have slight differences in how you operate them. Most will have a handle to turn which will crank the wire into the toilet drain, while others may just come coiled so that you manually maneuver the wire into the drain. You can use this tool to pull the clog back into the toilet in order to remove it.
The toilet augers we offer are specifically designed for use in a toilet. They have a rubber or plastic arm specially shaped to fit into the toilet drain to prevent the porcelain from being scratched. They have an easy to use handle crank, and are designed to resist kinking.
We can't diagnose your toilet's problem, but typically, unless you have some unforeseen problem with the overall plumbing, most residential toilet clogs can be fixed using the above methods.
If your toilet appears to be clogged after flushing, don't flush again because this will often overflow the toilet.
Never, ever, use drain clearing/cleaning products in a toilet. Drain cleaning products are ineffective at removing toilet clogs because common toilet clogs are made of matter that the chemicals cannot dissolve and breakdown. Drain cleaning products are made to dissolve mainly hair and grease, not to clear obstructions. Some of the drain cleaners can even generate heat, and this can cause a toilet bowl to crack. If you choose to do so anyway, never plunge a toilet containing those chemicals. It is extremely dangerous to your health to plunge with chemicals in the bowl.
Please note the information provided here is intended to give a basic knowledge of plumbing related repairs. This information is general, and may not suit all applications. If you are at all unsure of your abilities to complete one of these projects, please consult a professional. Always check with local code regulations and the proper authorities before beginning a project.
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