We’ve all been there—one too many spicy burritos and you’re watching the water rise precariously close to the brim of the toilet bowl. After a frantic search for a plunger, you either come out from the bathroom unscathed and breathe a sigh of relief, or you have a messy situation to deal with. Whether you’re in the comfort of your own home or somewhere less private, no one wants the embarrassment of having to clean up blackwater waste or to inform someone that they clogged the toilet.
But before you call the plumber or go into a panic, there are a few ways to fix that clogged toilet and avoid a bit of smelly embarrassment. See if the following tips and tricks work for you.
How to Unclog with a Plunger
Everyone’s first reaction to fixing a clogged toilet is naturally going to be to use a plunger, and for most clogs, this will be the best solution. First, stop the water from filling up the bowl by closing the toilet flapper under the lid of the toilet’s tank. If for some reason that doesn’t work, you can shut off the water supply by turning the handle of the water valve off, which is typically close to the floor beside or behind the toilet.
Once the water has stopped rising, take your plunger (preferably a flange plunger for a better seal) and place it over the drain hole in the bottom of your toilet. Gently rotate it while keeping it firmly over the drain to create a better seal before you begin plunging. The first push should be gentle so you release air instead of splashing dirty water everywhere. Next, begin forcefully pumping the plunger up and down to pump water in and out the drain so it loosens the clog. Be patient and repeat plunging as necessary until the clog loosens and water rushes down the drain.
How to Unclog with a Drain Snake
A drain snake, or a closet auger, is a handy tool for homeowners that can also help to unclog a toilet. To protect your toilet from being scratched or damaged, make sure you’re using a toilet auger that has a rubber coating to protect the porcelain.
To use the auger, place the head of the tool in the toilet bowl. Slowly turn the handle clockwise until you feel resistance, and then wind the snake back. Repeat until you loosen the clog and water flows down the drain again.
Creative Drain Snake Options if You Don’t Own One
Not everyone has an auger on hand when the dreaded toilet tide is rising, but there is a something you can easily make in a pinch to help for those nasty clogs.
Grab a wire coat hanger, a pair of pliers, and little bit of muscle to cut the hook off of the coat hanger. Bend the metal so you have a straight rod to work with and then use the pliers to bend a small, one-inch hook onto the end of the wire. Put the hook into your toilet’s waste and begin to break up the clog to create a water passage.
How to Unclog with Hot Water and Dish Soap
You may run into a situation where you’re at a friend’s house and can’t find a plunger or a toilet auger to help you. Instead of panicking about impending embarrassment, a little help from some hot water and dish soap may be able to send your worries down the drain.
Find a bucket (or if you’re desperate, an empty waste basket) and fill it with hot water from the sink or shower. As you wait for the bucket to fill, squirt a bit of dish soap (hand soap or shampoo can work in a pinch too) into the toilet. Once you have your hot water, gently pour it into the bowl and let it sit for a few minutes as the heat melts the fats in the clog and the soap helps to loosen it. The toilet should now flush freely.
How to Unclog with a Wet/Dry Vacuum
For a more unique solution to an everyday toilet problem, you can use a wet/dry vacuum cleaner to suck out that clog. Do not use a regular vacuum cleaner, as that will likely ruin the vacuum and possibly shock you. You may also want to wear gloves for this procedure since you’ll be holding the hose inside of the toilet.
First, if the bowl is not empty, vacuum the water out. Next, wrap an old towel around the hose to create a drain seal and then place the hose in the toilet drain. Hold on firmly to keep the towel in place as the suction works to pull out any obstructions in the drain. Cleaning and sanitizing the vacuum afterwards is highly recommended.
Why Your Toilet Keeps Clogging
Sometimes the aftermath of your spicy burrito is not the problem for a clogged commode. If that’s the case, there are several other factors that could be the problem:
- Is the toilet flapper working? Sometimes the mechanics of your toilet may not be functioning correctly, so make sure to adjust the chain to make sure the flapper opens completely when you flush.
- Are you flushing waste down the toilet that shouldn’t be flushed? Don’t flush things like dental floss, paper towels, hair, sanitary products, or wet wipes down there or you could cause a drain clog.
- Does your toilet clog easily? If so, your drain line could be clogged. Use a drain opener to try and get rid of the clog, but if that doesn’t work, you may need to call a professional.
- Do you have a low flow toilet? Some toilets are still low flow, especially if they’re older, and can’t handle the results of those tougher times in the bathroom.
- Have you checked your water supply line? Sometimes toilet tanks don’t collect enough water to flush properly. Some toilets let you raise the water level in your tank manually, but this may take a few tries to figure out.
- Do you have hard water build up? If you see white buildup under the rim of your toilet, scraping off the deposits can help your toilet flush more effectively.
If none of these issues seem to be the problem or you’re unable to figure out a fix for yourself, the best solution is to call in a professional. At Garden Spot Mechanical, we offer a full range of plumbing services, including a 24/7 emergency service to help with those serious problems. We offer fast, professional, and efficient services that will unclog your home in a hurry.