There’s never a good time to plunge a toilet, but clogs seem to happen at the most inopportune moments. Fortunately, you can clear most clogs yourself without having to call a local plumber or drain cleaner. Follow these steps, and you should have the problem cleared up before the in-laws come over for dinner.
How to Unclog a Toilet
Question: My toilet seems to get clogged more often than I would like, can you offer any suggestions on how to quickly stop this irritating problem?
Put on a pair of rubber gloves. Toilets are inherently unsanitary places to work, but a good pair of rubber cleaning gloves will protect you from the germs within.
Protect the floor. What’s worse than a clogged toilet? An overflowing toilet. Minimize the potential damage by placing newspapers or paper towels on the floor. Besides, minor splashes and spills are bound to occur when you’re unclogging the toilet. The paper will make for easier cleanup later.
Make sure the water supply to the toilet is off. It should be located right behind the toilet, it looks like a regular faucet knob. Do not shut off the supply for the house, since this will prevent others from using water. If the water is off to at least the toilet, this will prevent the bathroom from flooding.
Use the right plunger. It is important to use a large heavy-duty rubber plunger, either the ball-shaped type or one with a fold-out rubber flange on the bottom which forms a seal. Do not use the small cheap suction-cup type of plunger – these will often not work. Remember, the larger the plunger, the more force you can apply down into the clogged drain. The plunger should have a shape which ensures that the water you force out of it when you push down does not shoot back up into the toilet bowl instead of pushing into the drain.
Insert plunger into the bowl and press down firmly but slowly. Make sure you’re covering the hole completely. The plunger should be submerged in water to be effective. Sharply pull up on the plunger to create suction in the drain, push in to create pressure. Remember, the clog got jammed going in, so don’t be too aggressive with your pushing because you might just jam it further. It is more the suction than the pressure, constantly disturbing the clog in both directions that will gradually cause it to be loosened. If the plunging eventually drains the bowl but the clog is still blocking a free flow down the drain, leave the plunger in the bowl and fill the bowl with water again. Fill it to the point it is normally after a regular flush. Then plunge again, stubborn clogs might require you to do this a number of times.
If nothing works, you may have a problem deeper in the plumbing lines, and you’ll probably need to call a local plumber or drain cleaner.
If you need to stop the flow of water to the bowl at any time, you can turn off the valve to the toilet (usually located behind or to the side of the toilet), or you can open up the toilet tank and lift the float arm. When the float is lifted past a certain level, the water will stop. It will resume when you let go of the arm.
Run the plunger under hot water before using it. This will soften it up, which will help with creating a seal.
REMEMBER: If you’re at all weary of what to do or suspect the clog goes deeper that the toilet bowl, call Bob Oates Sewer Rooter at 206-789-4944. We offer emergency plumbing service & have qualified service technicians on-call & readily available. Call anytime Bob Oates Seattle plumbing – we’re here to help!
Bob Oates, Owner