We often get plumbing emergency calls for blocked toilets and while often it is highly advisable to use a qualified professional, there are some actions you can try. In some cases, it may be a good temporary solution before you can get a plumber out for an inspection.
Why does a toilet get blocked?
There are various reasons why a toilet gets blocked. Depending where you are located, there are different common blocked toilet and blocked drain issues. For example, if you are in Australia, tree roots prove to be a common problem damaging and blocking pipes and drains underground. Another common problem among young families is when a toddlers toy wants to discover where the water goes when a toilet is flushed.
If the toilet is completely blocked, don’t flush it again
It might seem obvious but it’s understandable why people might think hitting the flush button again might help push more water through to unblock the toilet. This almost never works and all it leaves is a great big mess which being a toilet is generally not a pleasant one.
Check For Obstructions
If you have kids or even puppies, there’s a chance that a quick search around might reveal a toy or even a bone lodged in the toilet bowl. It’s amazing what you can find in the toilet when it comes to little ones. If you have a pair of rubber gloves, get them on and have a quick search around and you might solve your blocked toilet problem nice and quick.
Use the Right Plunger
Most people have traditional sink plungers at home. While they can in a toilet, you will notice that they do not usually fit properly or it might take a fair bit of effort to generate the pressure needed. If you’re reading this article and you do not have a blocked toilet, it might be a good idea to invest in a good quality toilet plunger next time you’re at your local hardware store.
The right plunger can make a huge difference in whether you can unblock your toilet with this method. Remember, a plunger may not do the trick depending on the blockage and there could be a larger plumbing issue so don’t overdo it.
Make sure the plunger is fully submerged and there is no air inside the plunger cup. This will allow for the best plunging force from your plunger and may also save the embarrassment of toilet water being splashed all over you. If your plunger isn’t fully submerged, you can add more water but do not use the flush button, grab some water with a bucket and top up the toilet as needed. When plunging, go straight up and down to get the best seal with the plunger which generates the best plunging force.
Some people happen to have plumbing snakes in their toolbox. If you’re fortunate enough to have one or know someone that does, you can try the plumbing snake to see whether any blockages can be dislodged. If you do happen to find the blockage with a plumbing snake, remember to apply a reasonable amount of pressure but do not be too forceful as you may end up damaging the toilet. In some instances, the toilet may need to be removed in order to get rid of the culprit as the object causing the blockage might need to come out the way it went in.
Liquid Drain Cleaners
There are a range of drain cleaners available at your local hardware stores and supermarkets. It can be really hard to say which ones are the best and whether they will work for your blockage because if your toilet is blocked because of a hard object that has been lodged then they are not the right solution for you. They can be useful if your toilet has a buildup of soap scum, fats, oils and grease. In these types of situations a liquid drain cleaner can work.
Tips for Liquid Drain Cleaners
When selecting chemical drain cleaners, have a good look to see what options are available. There are some newer products made with enzymes rather than traditional harsh chemicals which may be a suitable alternative. Chemical drain cleaners can be toxic and harmful to humans, dogs and other pets and the environment while also causing damage to your pipes in the long run. If you are going to try this method of drain unblocking, then please read and adhere to the manufacturers instructions.
That’s our pointers on what to do with a blocked toilet. Remember while there are DIY solutions to unblocking a toilet, it is always advisable to work with a professional plumber to make sure the job is done correctly and to prevent future problems. Even if you have the right tools, if you are not trained or sure how to use them, you could damage your plumbing or even worse you could injure yourself.