How to unclog toilet blockages is not on the top of anyone’s “to do” list, or “know how to do” list either. But when needed, it can be a simple task taking only minutes, or a complicated ordeal requiring a professional. As house cleanliness is an inseparable part of a healthy lifestyle, preventing and clearing a toilet clog is a big part of that. You can sweep a dirty floor, wipe clean a kitchen counter-top, and throw away spoiled foods, but you cannot always tell when your toilet is about to get clogged.
Let’s all admit a toilet clog is one of those things we go into denial about, especially when we hear those weird gurgling sounds. Let’s also admit that there are very few things more unpleasant and unsanitary that a water-backup from our toilet bowl.
Some causes of a clogged toilet
A clogged toilet ruins our floors, bathroom rugs, and puts a damper on the mood all around the house. If you are like most people, a clogged toilet is an almost inevitable occurrence in your house. There are times when somebody throws away something that doesn’t belong in your toilet, and flushes it down the bowl. For example toys, plastics, cigarette butts, cardboard toilet paper rolls, and what have you. Sometimes immediately, other times over time, those items will get stuck in your toilet, drain pipe, or somewhere in the S-bend or U-bend toilet trap. Even small objects, like Q-tips, which should go down as you flush, can stick to the pipe and build up a stubborn obstruction.
Do not try to flush over and over again to unclog a toilet. If the obstruction is too stubborn to go away, you can flood the floor and create more of a mess. To check if the toilet is indeed clogged, remove the tank lid and lift the flapper valve to let a small amount of water flow into the bowl. Water should go down the drain in a normal flow in an unclogged toilet. Lifting the flapper valve is like overriding the flush lever action (the flush handle on the side of the tank).
The most common culprit of is toilet paper, or an overused quantity of it. If you tend to use a lot of toilet paper, do not throw them all together at once and then flush, flushing twice is nice! The toilet has a better chance of flushing everything down the drain pipe when it is not overloaded with papers. Rolling any type of paper into balls does not help either. Another typical issue is sanitary napkins, which should go into the trash bin instead of a toilet. Children may try to flush their toys down the toilet just to see them swirl in a circular motion, then drown! It is probably fun for them, but not for you. You will end up with a clogged toilet, trying to figure out how to unclog toilet blockages.
In most cases, fortunately, you can unclog toilet blockages without the help from a professional plumber, because most clogs do not need any special equipment. As long as you have a plunger ready, you can get to work right away. There is a precaution to remember anytime the problem happens:
The 3 Steps you can take to unclog toilet blockages
In case the toilet is in fact clogged, stay calm, as there is no need to immediately call a professional plumber or drain cleaner. Even someone with no knowledge and experience in plumbing can typically unclog toilet blockages in minutes. That is assuming there is no underlying problem in the main drain line. Follow these 3 instructions.
1. Get a plunger
There are two different types of plungers: sink and toilet. Although you can probably use either for this purpose, the latter is designed specifically to work inside a toilet bowl. It has a rubber bell-shaped end to fit the bowl, allowing you to generate greater force to push down any obstruction in the S-bend or U-bend trap. A stiff rubber plunger that has been laying around for awhile can be hard to work with. So running hot water on the rubber end of the plunger to soften it up a little bit before you plunge can be a good idea. While you push the plunger in and out, always keep enough water in the bowl to cover the plunger. Without water in the bowl, the plunging action will not be forceful.
2. Use an auger
When plunging does not work, use an auger or drain snake. Sometimes a plunger is not effective because the obstruction is too far down the drain pipe. An auger is essentially a long wire coil with a crank to twist the wire. Feed the auger into the bowl and turn the crank. The tip of the drain snake will either break through the obstruction or grab it out, and leave you with a clean toilet.
Always use an auger or sewer snake extremely carefully, or call a professional drain cleaner. If used carelessly, or in an unprofessional manner, a snake or auger can permanently scar or chip the porcelain on the toilet bowl. You may clear the clog, only to require a new toilet bowl.
3. Heavy duty chemicals
Using drain cleaning solution should help unclog a toilet, too. You may want to try this if the plunger or auger method (or combine them if needs be) fails. Always follow the instruction attached on bottle to avoid any issues, and use chemicals as a last resort.
When it’s time to call a professional drain cleaner
When all still fails to get rid of the clog, it is time to call a professional plumber. An auger can actually reach deep enough into the bowl and P-trap, but this method does not always work because either the obstruction is too stubborn, you do not have the skill required, or you have bigger plumbing issues such as clogged main drain. It can happen because a bend in the piping, or corroded pipe, tree root infiltration, debris, etc. Professionals have the right tools to figure out the culprit and solve the problem. More importantly a skilled drain technician knows each step required to unclog toilet blockages, and also avoid damage to plumbing systems
Obstructions located deep inside the drain pipe calls for complete toilet removal for easier access, this is best left to someone with experience. Like a lot of things, removal is not very difficult at all; but putting all the pieces back together again can be too much of a hassle for the inexperienced. At this point, a professional plumber is the best bet to restore order to your drain system. A plumber will also check all parts of the toilet to see if anything is damaged and replace it if necessary. Nowadays, toilet assemblies are more complicated than ever. Even something as simple as a toilet part replacement may require a knowledgeable plumber.
Apart from using a plunger, auger, and chemical cleaner, a professional plumber can use more sophisticated equipment such as a hydro-jet and sewer camera when needed. Once the toilet has been removed and the obstruction is precisely located, a hydro-jet kicks in to pump pressurized water down the drain. A hydro-jet is quite similar to a pressure washer, only stronger. Nozzles of different shapes can be used depending on the condition of the pipe and the type of obstruction.
Advantages professional drain cleaners and plumbers provide
If you want, a professional drain cleaning service can help check the entire plumbing installation for any defect, not just to unclog toilet clogs. An HD sewer video camera gives a clear visual analysis of any drain pipe conditions, and whether or not a replacement is necessary. Thus, potentially saving an unnecessary and costly plumbing repair job. Plumbers can also check any installation of a water fixture in the house as well. Regular inspections and maintenance like these make sure you can stop plumbing problems even before they start.
Just like a clogged toilet, any plumbing problem is best caught in the early stages. If you need your drain system checked out, contact the pros at Balkan Drain Cleaning. Remember that Balkan Drain Cleaning in owned and operated by a fully licensed NYC Master Plumber, Paul R. Balkan.