Let’s face it, a blocked or clogged toilet isn’t much fun. But it is inevitable and professional plumbers around the world spend time every day unblocking loos. Actually, the terminology emergency plumbing companies use is ‘sewer choke’, somehow sounds a bit nicer doesn’t it!
Now before we dive into the top five ways to unclog a toilet when nothing else works, let’s understand why toilets get clogged in the first place (prevention being the very best solution!).
As anyone with a holiday home or children will attest, one of the common causes of toilets becoming blocked is because someone tried to flush something that is non-flushable. Examples of these items are Q-tips, wet wipes, sanitary items, hair combs, dental floss and cotton balls. Of course, toy cars and dolls accessories don’t usually fare so well in the loo either!
Toilet paper is designed to dissolve quickly in water so it’s not usually the main culprit in a blocked toilet situation. However, too much of anything is not always a good thing! If someone is too liberal with the loo paper it can block the toilet trap (the curved bit at the back that stops sewer gases from making their way into your home). So go steady with the toilet tissue …
Okay, so let’s assume we haven’t managed to avoid the dreaded sewer choke. It can be a bit embarrassing but, there are some tricks you can try before calling your professional plumber to save the day!
Here’s our top five tips for DIY commode clearing!
1. Use a Plunger. Most households have one of these lurking in the shed or at the back of the laundry cupboard. It’s one of the easiest and fastest ways to unclog a toilet. Remember to wear rubber gloves and, if you have them, you may want to pop on some safety glasses (splashback isn’t much of a laughing matter!). The trick with a toilet plunger is to make sure you have an airtight seal on the toilet bowl before you push down and try to clear the blockage. Repeating this creates a vacuum and then, once you pull the plunger away the sucking effect ‘should’ cause everything in the pipes and bowl to continue its journey down the drain. If at first you don’t succeed, try again. It can often take a few goes and should eventually work. If you don’t have any joy, don’t despair, try this next trick.
2. Use Drain Cleaners. This one is a bit tricky as using modern chemicals to unclog your toilet is neither good for the environment or indeed your toilet. With that in mind, try and use a bio cleaner and follow the instructions carefully. The way these normally work is by dissolving the materials that are blocking your loo. Of course, they won’t dissolve toy cars or hair combs so only use drain cleaners if you know what’s actually causing the sewer choke.
If that doesn’t work then move onto the next option.
3. Use Hot Soapy Water. It may sound a bit ‘vanilla’ compared to the commercial drain cleaners but, you’d be surprised. Really hot water and soap can be a handy option for unclogging toilets. Heat a couple of litres of water to almost boiling point and then squirt some dishwashing liquid into your toilet bowl. Then slowly and carefully, pour the hot water in and wait for a few minutes. All being well this combination of hot slippery goodness will work its magic and allow the blocked toilet to clear itself.
If it doesn’t, move onto the penultimate toilet fixing solution.
4. Use a Plumbing Snake. This is a little more invasive but also a little more effective. Also known as an auger, a good quality toilet plumbing snake should be coated in rubber to stop it scratching the surface of your loo. Whilst still wearing your rubber gloves, pop the end of the snake into the bowl and start turning the handle. You may well feel some resistance and, if you do, just wind the handle anticlockwise and then try again.
Once the handle will rotate freely it’s probably time to try flushing the loo. All being well, the toilet is now unclogged and you can feel rightly happy about your achievement. Be sure to wash the toilet snake off with clean water before drying it and putting it back into storage.
If ‘that’ also didn’t work, wash your hands and grab your phone as you move onto the next option …
5. Call a Professional Plumber. Never fear, your local emergency plumbing professional has a whole heap of other tricks to get your loo back to working order. These can involve some special tools and they’re best equipped to use them. It could even be that your toilet needs dismantling. This can be a very messy proposition if you haven’t done it before. Even though YouTube probably has a ‘How to …’ video for this, it’s not a great idea.
As a professional plumbing company, Parrish Group offers a 24/7 emergency call-out service. They’ve unblocked thousands of toilets around the Shoalhaven over the last two decades. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about. The sooner it gets fixed, the sooner you can get back to your routine.