What to Do if Toilet is Clogged

Toilets can clog for a wide variety of reasons. Determining what steps to take to unclog the toilet depends on what is creating the blockage in the first place.

In most circumstances, a simple plunger is enough to dislodge a blockage within the trap of the toilet. Take the plunger and secure it over the opening within the toilet bowl. Then press down, with some pressure, on the plunger. This will force air and some water through the toilet trap. After several plunges, most toilets will clear.

If you have high water levels in the toilet, however, plunging may not be the best option. Any water in a toilet should be treated as gray water, which means it may be contaminated.

Should your toilet remain clogged after plunging or you feel that an overflow issue may occur while plunging, here are some additional options to think about using.

1. Use a Toilet Snake.

This tool winds a metal tube through the toilet trap so you can manually dislodge a blockage. Make sure to purchase a unit that will protect the porcelain surface of the bowl. Insert the toilet snake into the bowl opening and then press the metal tube forward. Spin it as necessary to dislodge the blockage. You’ll know you have succeeded when water levels drop in the bowl.

2. Use a Commercial Liquid Chemical Product.

Commercial drain cleaners can soften a blockage within the toilet trap so that it can be plunged away. Some may be able to clear the clog on their own. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper use. You may wish to use a face mask or turn on the bathroom ventilation while using this product.

3. Take Advantage of Common Household Items.

If you have an empty toilet bowl and a known blockage, try boiling a kettle and then sending the hot water through the toilet. Vinegar and baking soda may also dislodge the blockage without a need for plunging. You may wish to add a little dish soap to the toilet before adding the hot water to help assist in moving the blockage.

Note: Do not use vinegar or baking soda after using a commercial liquid chemical product.

If your toilet will not unclog after these efforts, then it may be time to contact a professional plumber. Sometimes a mechanical issue with the toilet or a blockage in the primary sewer line could be the primary cause of this common household issue.

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