Clogged Toilet? Here’s Everything You Shouldn’t Do
Plus a few tips on what you can do
You flush the toilet and…you hear an ominous gurgle. Even worse, you DON’T hear the expected “whooosh” and the bowl starts to fill up instead of emptying as it should.
It’s happened to all of us. Clogged toilets are inevitable. Too much toilet paper, low water flow, foreign objects in the drain, old septic systems, nature’s call – any of these can contribute to or cause blockage in the s-shaped drain of a toilet.
The problem? No one wants to admit it when they’re the toilet clogging culprit. Instead, many people close the lid and walk away, hoping the problem will resolve itself. Sometimes it does, but as often as not, it will still be clogged when you come back.
What Not to Do When Your Toilet is Clogged
We get it – if that toilet is about to overflow with…yeah, we’ll leave it at that; you don’t want to be anywhere nearby. But, there are a few quick things you can do immediately to prevent a mess if you can manage to keep a clear head.
Do instead: remove the lid from the toilet’s tank and carefully set it aside. At the bottom of the tank is a rubber piece called the “flapper valve” which regulates the flow of water into the toilet bowl. Reach down and press that valve closed to prevent any more water from flowing into the toilet bowl and avoid the potential disaster an overflow will cause.
You may also need to stop the tank from filling up by lifting the float that operates the tank fill valve.
The water level in the toilet bowl should begin to drain slowly with no new water flowing in. Wait about a minute, and if the water level has gone down enough, you should be in the clear to let go of the float and the flapper without worrying about the toilet overflowing.
If the water in the toilet bowl doesn’t drop after about a minute, you’ll need to shut off the water at the toilet supply valve. This valve is a metal handle located behind the toilet. Turn clockwise (right) to close.
Don’t: Use Other Drains Nearby
Until you’ve verified that the problem is with just that toilet, avoid using other drains in the bathroom. If you notice those drains slowing or backing up, the blockage may be somewhere in the line, or may even indicate a failure in your septic system.
Do instead: Use a plunger to unblock the drain. It may be all that’s needed. After a few moments, check to see if the toilet drain clears. If a plunger isn’t working, your next step is likely a snake.
Once you’re confident that the clog is removed from the immediate vicinity, carefully test your other drains one at a time to make sure they are all functioning correctly.
Don’t: Use a Harsh Chemical like Drano to Unclog Your Toilet
Drano, and other similar chemical pipe cleaners, use caustic, oxidizing chemicals to dissolve drain clogs. The reaction that occurs when the chemicals hit the clog creates heat.
Since the dissolving process takes time (sometimes a few hours), the reaction sits in there producing more and more heat which can cause extensive damage to the pipes and even to the toilet itself by cracking the porcelain.
Do instead: Use Dawn dish soap. Pour ¼ cup of Dawn soap into the toilet bowl and allow a couple of hours for it to work on the clog before attempting to use a plunger again. The dish soap will work to break down the clog naturally without harmful chemical fumes or reactions.
Follow the dish soap with hot water, pouring it slowly into the toilet bowl. The water should finish what the dish soap started, breaking up the clog completely and rinsing it down the drain.
When All Else Fails, Call a Plumber
If your toilet clog won’t relent to the usual methods, call Home Angels and we will dispatch one of our professional plumbers to your house right away!
Most toilet clogs are easy to fix and don’t require a plumber’s assistance, but a foreign object lodged in the drain or failing sewer pipes can cause any number of bigger problems if not dealt with quickly.