Toilet Troubles? Tips to Fix a Clog
When the toilet water rises after flushing, it’s natural to panic. No one wants to deal with the mess and embarrassment of a clog-caused overflow, or a toilet that’s been put out of commission. But the situation can be resolved quickly if you know a few techniques to try.
In this post, we cover several de-clogging methods discovered by brave souls who were determined to fix this common nightmare without a plumber’s aid.
Try a Plunger
Plungers are of course the go-to tool for these sticky situations. If you’re lucky enough never to have used one before, the idea is that you’re supposed to create suction in the toilet’s drain.
To achieve this, you’ll need to press the rubber end around the toilet’s drainage hole. Try to get as much of a seal as you can around the drain’s edges. (This won’t be possible in all cases, but it’s the way to get the most effective results.) Then, press the plunger down gently and begin a slow pumping motion. Be careful not to break the seal.
After a few pumps, you can pull up the plunger and see if water rushes down into the drain. This will be the sign that the plunger’s suction has loosened the clog. Repeat as necessary, or combine with one of the methods below if your blockage seems firmly placed.
No plunger on hand? Don’t worry. After cursing your misfortune, you can try any of the methods below.
Vinegar & Baking Soda
Pour one cup of baking soda into your toilet bowl. Follow that with one cup of vinegar. Make sure you pour slowly and carefully - the chemical reaction will immediately start to froth and fizz, so you don’t want to end up with a bubbling mess!
Allow the mixture to do its work for about 20 minutes. You’ll be able to tell if the clog was dislodged by looking at the water level: lowering means the clog has cleared. Any bubbles coming from the toilet’s drain are also an indication that the solution is dissolving the blockage.
We recommend giving it a few minutes until the bubbling calms down before flushing, that way you don’t wash away the mixture before it’s done disintegrating the stuck yuck. If the clog still hasn’t been completely removed, you’ll need to repeat the process.
*Note: This method works best if your toilet bowl is about half-full of water. If the water level is too low, we suggest adding boiling water to reach the necessary volume. The heat will give your chemical solution an added boost of power, too! If the water level is too high, you’re going to need to scoop out the extra water and pour it elsewhere.
Boiling Water & Soap (or Bleach)
Prepare a gallon of boiling water and mix it with a few generous squeezes of dish soap. If you don’t have an abundance of dish soap on hand, 2-3 cups of bleach works as an alternative. We recommend using bleach for more stubborn blockages.
Once the mixture is ready, carefully pour it into your toilet. Wait 15 minutes. This will allow the hot solution to break down the clog until it’s ready to slip the rest of the way down the drain. One flush should clear it right up.*Note: This method works best if you have little water already in your toilet bowl. If your clog has caused your toilet to fill to the brim, you will first need to remove most of the excess water.
Coat Hanger Drain Snake
Drain snakes are handy tools that can be used to manually clear a clog, but if you don’t have one on hand when a clog erupts, you certainly don’t have time to go shopping for one. Thankfully, it’s easy enough to improvise a drain snake in a pinch.
Grab a wire coat hanger and unravel it. You can also use a pair of wire cutters to speed up the process. Pull the dismantled hanger until it resembles a straight(ish) rod. Next, take an old rag and wrap it around the end that you’ll be inserting into the toilet drain. You can secure it with strong tape.
This addition will prevent your toilet bowl from getting scratched, and add some surface area to push against the blockage. Move this end of the rod around in your toilet drain until you feel the mass dislodge, then try flushing.
Plastic Bottle Squeeze
Desperate times call for desperate measures. Grab a plastic drink bottle and fill it with warm water. Make sure most of the water in your toilet bowl has been taken out, then bring the bottle and place your thumb over where the lid would be.
This will create the temporary seal that you need while you turn the bottle upside down and stick its mouth into the toilet drain. Remove your thumb and quickly squeeze the bottle with both hands. The idea is to flush out the obstruction with the force of the water that gushes out.
Repeat as necessary. And we hope this goes without saying, but throw that bottle away!
For Tough Clogs, Call the Experts
Some clogs are so stubborn, it seems like only an exorcism could get them out. But you don’t need to read ancient rites to your toilet just yet. Hamm and Sons Plumbing is ready to handle it quickly and cleanly. We’ll bring in the right tools to clear your drain and ensure there’s nothing left behind to haunt you.