A blocked toilet is a top-ranking nightmare for everyone and one of the main reasons a bathroom may smell bad. Not to mention, it has the potential to throw off your routine, cause loads of grief, and result in massive repair bills. But, what if we told you it’s possible to deal with a toilet bowl blockage – on all your lonesome?
You may already know how to get rid of limescale in the toilet, fix the seat and clean the toilet in general, but what about fixing a blocked one? That may sound like wishful thinking, but let us assure you there’s nothing you can’t handle with a trusty plunger by your side. Don’t believe us? Our ‘How To Fix A Blocked Toilet‘ guide is filled to the brim with practical and first-class solutions for the challenge of a bathroom clog. All you need to do is scroll down and learn more! And once you’re done, go and find out how to fix a toilet flush like an expert.
Table of Contents
What are the reasons behind a blocked toilet?
Before we get to detailing how you can go about clearing a clogged toilet, let’s discuss the reasons why you’re in a jam in the first place. Below are some of the most common reasons why toilet blockages occur.
Toilet Paper Buildup
Let’s be honest – we’re all guilty of chucking the toilet paper in the toilet (instead of the bin) now and then. Some of us even end up flashing down wet wipes without a care in the world.
Generally, the water pressure is more than enough to get rid of these small scraps from the trapway, but a buildup of that stuff over time can result in backups due to the toilet drain being choked up. To ensure regular commode backups don’t become a highlight of your life, use the bathroom bin to dispose of things like paper, disposable tissues, wet wipes and cotton balls.
Flushing The Unflushables
If you’ve got little ones running around the house, it’s likely your tiny tot may have unknowingly caused a clog by trying to flush something that’s not meant to end up in the toilet bowl. Children’s toys are a prevalent cause of clogged loos and will often need to be fished out with the help of an auger or toilet snake.
Old School WCs
One of the marvels of modern plumbing is the feature of water conservation, and that’s precisely why modern commodes utilise low-flow schematics that help reduce water waste whenever the toilet flushes.
However, if you’ve got yourself an old school WC, it’s possible that your commode doesn’t have the necessary pressure required to keep the toiler’s trap and drain clear – which is why clogs can build up. If you’re not looking to replace your toilet anytime soon, it’s a good idea to keep from flushing paper and other articles (like cotton buds, etc.) down the toilet to avoid backups.
Blocked Toilet Trap
If you’re wondering what a toilet trap is – it’s the curvy part of the toilet’s drain system that connects the bowl and the main drain. The trap’s unique design helps retain the water level in the bowl and keeps the odorous sewer gases from entering your bathroom.
If the toilet trap becomes clogged, this can result in backups as the water doesn’t flush down the drain the way it’s supposed to. The good news is unblocking a trap is relatively manageable and requires only a toilet plunger or an auger.
Not only does limescale leave unsightly stains in your toilet, but it can also interfere with the plumbing and lead to a blocked commode. Limescale growth can extend to the trap and all the way down to the water drain, which can cause the flow of the toilet water to slow down or lead to full-on clogs.
While a toilet brush can help you clear off the limescale in the toilet bowl, it won’t do much to clean away the stuff in the waste pipe. Keep in mind that it is also important to clean the toilet brush as well from time to time!
Identify the nature of the problem
There are quite a few ways you can unclog a toilet – but your DIY solution should depend on the nature of the blockage if you want to succeed. The question is, how can you tell what’s obstructing the toilet in order to choose the best course of action? That’s easy.
Typically, a blocked toilet will display one of three indications of a blockage. These are:
- The toilet bowl is nearly empty or extremely slow to fill back up after flushing. In this situation, there’s an obstruction in the drain that’s affecting the air circulation.
- It takes a long time for the water to drain out from the bowl when you flush – which signifies there’s a blockage somewhere along the pipes that is impeding the flow of water to the drain.
- Flushing causes the water level in the bowl to rise dangerously high and doesn’t drain out at all. This situation highlights a thorough blockage that’s completely stemmed the flow of water.
The point is, there’s no one all-inclusive method of unclogging the toilet. Factors like how far the blockage is in the drainpipe and the reason behind the problem (toilet paper, toy, etc.) can help you decide on the method of unclogging you should opt for.
3 Easy and smart ways to unblock your toilet step-by-step
We’ve divided this section into 3 separate parts for each method of unblocking the toilet for ease of navigation. It’s best to go through them all first before deciding on a technique that you think suits your situation the best. Ready?
Use Hot Water
Believe it or not, but water in high temperatures can be a pretty potent remedy for a clogged loo because we all know it works wonders when it comes to fighting off grease and fat. What’s even better is that this method is perfectly suitable for newbie repair enthusiasts, is easy on the wallet, and doesn’t take up too much time.
Shut off the water supply to the toilet tank by turning off the valve placed beside or underneath the tank. This step is important because it’ll stop the tank from refilling and causing an overflow hazard.
- Use some rubber gloves, lift up the toilet seat<span style=”font-weight: 400;”> and draw out as much water as you can from the bowl. Keep a bucket close by to pour the water into. Remember, do not throw this water down your sink; instead, try pouring down another toilet (one that works perfectly fine) or an external drain.
- Pour a liberal squirt or two of washing-up liquid or dish soap (about half a glass’s worth) into the bowl. This step not only helps in loosening up the blockage by lubricating the drain, but it also helps boost the hot water‘s grease-fighting abilities.
- After 10 minutes pour down the hot water (not boiling water) into the bowl. Three litres of water should suffice. Try to pour in the water quickly without harming yourself and wait for 5 to 10 minutes to see if the water level of the bowl goes down.
- If the water flow is restored and the flushed water drains out as promptly as it should – congrats, you’ve cleared the clog. If the water is still a bit lazy in draining out, repeat the process once more to eliminate any remaining debris and waste.
Use Vinegar And Baking Soda
We know what you’re thinking – this is beginning to sound like the recipe of your ‘Volcano Project’ for school. And you’re right – combining baking soda with vinegar leads to a type of effervescent chemical reaction that can help break down the waste that’s clogging your toilet without plungers or any other tools. Here’s how.
- Turn off the water valve next to (or underneath) the toilet tank.
- Lift up the toilet cover and seat and proceed to draw out as much water as you can from the bowl with the help of a bath mug and bucket.
- Combine two cups of vinegar with two cups of hot water. Next, pour down one cup of baking soda down the toilet, followed by the hot water and vinegar. Leave the DIY drain cleaner to do its job for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, check to see if the flush is working the way it should and whether the clog is taken care of. If you feel the need, repeat the process one more time, or you can invest in an environmentally friendly enzyme drain cleaner for a complete cleanup of the blockage.
Get a Plunger/Plumbing Snake
- Sometimes hot water or vinegar and baking soda fall short because the clog is being caused by something you can’t melt or disintegrate – in other words – an unflushable item. While these situations may require you to turn to professionals, you can try and extract the blockage with the aid of a plunger or a plumbing snake, depending on the situation.
- Invest in a plunger with an extension flange (if you don’t own one already). These plungers are much more adept at dealing with blockages because the flange is ideally designed to fit toilets better – for better suction power.
- Cover the outlet in the bowl with the plunger and begin with a gentle push. Keep alternating between gentle jabs and more powerful heaves until you see the stagnant water in the bowl starting to drain away or the toy (or any other obstruction) return to the bowl from the outlet. Scoop out the toy with the help of a bowl or a bath mug.
- If you’re not having much luck with the plunger, bring in the plumbing snake to get rid of the clogging debris – especially if you get the feeling the clog is somewhere deeper in the pipeline.
- Turn or twist the snake gently and keep gently pressing forward to break through the clog.
Bonus tips: What to do and not to do
Sometimes this blocked incident can indicate a bigger problem, such as a clogged sewerage line – which means all your efforts can be in vain. That’s why it’s essential to understand the do’s and don’ts of self-plumbing repairs and when to call in a professional.
Listed below are a few tips and pointers to help you avoid significant catastrophes and know when to call it quits.
Do’s – keep the toilet cover down
You can save yourself a headache by practising keeping the toilet cover down – especially If you have kids in the house. This will keep your commode safe, having the likes of rubber duckies, crayons, combs, etc., from being flushed in it.
Don’ts – avoid using too many chemicals
It’s not unheard of for people to start raining down chemicals in their toilet as soon as they test the toilet flapper. Using too many chemicals can produce toxic fumes that can hurt your eyes, throat, and lungs. It can also make working with tools like the plunger in the noxious mix of water difficult.
Do’s – regularly clean your toilet with baking soda and vinegar
Just like forewarned is forearmed – you can help avoid clogs altogether by cleaning your toilet with a mixture of warm water, vinegar, and baking soda – once a month at least. Not only will this disinfect and deodorize your bathroom, but it’ll also help cut down on grease residues and hard water stains. What’s not to like about that?
A DIY unclogging of your toilet may be enough to put you on edge. But if you’ve faced mopping up the bathroom floor with old rags because of an overflowing toilet – you can face just about anything. The blockage-busting methods listed here are beginner-friendly and can end up saving you fists worth of quid. Besides, what else can you do to kill the hours waiting for help to arrive in the form of your plumber?