How to Clear a Blocked Toilet
In the same way as your car requires a little regular maintenance to keep it ticking over, so does your house – or rather, its appliances. Your toilet is no exception either; it can very quickly get blocked and, before you know it, you can’t even use it for fear of dirty water spilling out of it and making its way onto your bathroom floor. I think you’ll agree it’s not a nice thought, in all honesty.
So, what do you do? If you want to know exactly how to unblock your toilet, it’s about time you read our handy guide. We’ve covered everything here to ensure you no longer need to panic if your toilet bowl suddenly gets clogged up with tissue paper. Here’s what you can expect to learn by reading the piece:
- Why You Might Need to Unblock Your Toilet: An At-a-glance Look
- How Your Drains Work
- How to Unblock a Slow Draining Toilet
- How to Unblock a Toilet Without a Plunger
- How to Prevent Your Toilet from Blocking
Why You Might Need to Unblock Your Toilet: An At-a-glance Look
So you’ve found yourself with a blocked toilet.
First things first, don’t throw yourself into a mild panic about how much it’s going to cost and how long your toilet’s going to be out of action. And certainly don’t try a half-hearted DIY ‘quick fix’ without really knowing what it is you’re doing.
If you recently followed our How to Clear a Clogged Drain Pipe tutorial, then you’ll know that we always keep your budget well and truly in mind by providing cost-effective solutions everyone can get on board with.
The fact is, blockages in domestic waste pipes are almost always a problem you could do without – but that doesn’t mean they’re a problem you can’t solve.
Stopping wastewater from leaving your property, blockages like this – in toilets, sinks, baths and showers – can prove frustrating but they can be easily set right.
It’s worth bearing in mind that all toilets, sinks, showers and baths in your home empty into the same waste pipe. The water then flows into the sewers and onto a treatment works; this is then treated, cleaned and returned to local rivers and streams in no time.
But how do you know if you have a blockage? Common signs include the following:
- Your toilet bowl fills up with water and you therefore find it difficult to flush it
- The toilet empties very slowly
- You notice a bad odour coming from the drains
How Your Drains Work
Ever wondered how your toilet drains work? The toilet itself is made up of the following parts:
- A handle
- Fill valve
- Overflow tube
- Flush valve
When the handle is pushed, it pulls up on a chain connected to a flapper. The flapper then lifts and releases the tank water down the flush valve and into the bowl. At this stage, the water then goes through the trap and into the main drain.
Next – and only when the tank is empty – the flapper closes, forming a seal in the tank until the next time the handle is pushed.
Now, the fill valve turns on and brings water from the water supply into the tank. Water will now flow through the base of the valve and through the refill tube, onto the overflow tube; as the water rises in the tank, the float rises and turns the valve off, stopping the water as it reaches the fill line.
How to Unblock a Slow Draining Toilet
So, what’s the difference between a slow draining toilet and a fully blocked one? A blocked one will fill right to the top, while a slow draining toilet will simply drain a lot slower than normal.
Toilet Filling to the Top?
You’ll need to turn off the water supply before you begin plunging, if you want to avoid flooding your home.
Once you’ve done this, grab a specially-designed toilet plunger and plunge. Make sure you’ve covered the floor with old newspaper and always wear protective gloves too.
Now you know the very basics of how a toilet drains, you might have an idea or two forming in your head about how you might unblock a slow draining bowl.
A slow draining toilet is simply that: a toilet which is taking a long time to drain and therefore disrupting normal service when it comes to using the bathroom.
So, how to fix the toilet so it drains normally again?
Grab Your Protective Gear
The first thing you’ll want to do is ensure you’re wearing the right protective gear for the job. Trust us when we say you really won’t want to come into contact with a blocked toilet without some rubber gloves on at the very least. We also recommend a pair of protective glasses!
Gather Your Equipment
In terms of the equipment you’ll need to unblock a toilet, you’ll be pleased to discover you really don’t need too much. Get down to your local hardware shop in the first instance and buy a small plunger. Now, simply grab a strong black bag or refuse sack without holes – and you’re ready to go.
Resist the Temptation to Flush
It can be really tempting to flush the toilet but in doing so you could be making the problem worse. Instead, be brave and try to tackle the issue before it gets to that stage.
Start by putting on your protective gloves and glasses and placing your hand – as carefully as you can – into the toilet bowl.
Feeling around for anything that might have fallen in and become stuck, you’ll then be able to loosen any tissue paper which may be sitting in the bend and causing the dreaded blockage.
It’s Time to Take the ‘Plunge-r’!
If that hasn’t worked too well, simply lift up the toilet seat and place your small plunger at the bottom of the bowl. Moving it up and down to loosen the blockage, you’ll gently be able to see to the problem without any sewage spilling up over the toilet bowl and onto your floor.
Now, the Really Unglamorous Part…
You’ve loosened the blockage, which means it’s now time to pull the waste out of the toilet and pop it into your refuse bag. Don’t drip any dirty water onto yourself or the flow in doing so, and tie up the bag and take it straight outside the house as soon as you’ve removed the visible waste from the toilet.
Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3
Your toilet might be back to normal now – so it’s time to give it a test. Place some toilet paper in the bowl and flush the toilet, watching carefully to see if it fills up again.
If it does, it may be time to call out the professionals – and if it doesn’t, that’s a job done!
How to Unblock a Toilet Without a Plunger
Got a Wire Coat Hanger? If you don’t have a plunger, have you tried the wire coat hanger method? Simply grab an old coat hanger and unwind it until you have one long piece of wire.
Now, simply bend it into a curve and push the wire up the toilet. wiggling it gently to push the blockage through. Make sure you do this very carefully as you’ll scratch the toilet if not.
Tried That? Now Try This…
If the wire coat hanger trick on its own isn’t doing the job, try to first dissolve the blockage by pouring hot water into the toilet bowl from a height. Now, simply use the coat hanger as described above, adding caustic soda or drain cleaner if that isn’t working.
Call Out the Professionals
Tried the plunger toilet unblocking method and found that you got absolutely nowhere? The only thing you can do now (after also trying the tips above) is call out a professional draining company. By doing so, you can enjoy a fast and professional service – and your toilet back in use in no time at all!
How to Prevent Your Toilet from Blocking
Now that you’ve spent all that time carefully unblocking your toilet, you’re probably wondering how you can prevent the same thing from happening again.
Well look no further than our handy guide to preventative toilet unblocking tips. If taken on board, these tips will ensure there’s no disruption to busy family life again.
A number of things cause toilet blockages in the first place, which means these instances can definitely be avoided too.
Remember that sewers are only designed to take water from your toilet, sink and baths, along with human waste and toilet tissue, of course. Everything else should be put in the bin.
Be wary of the most common culprits when it comes to toilet blockages and you should never have to deal with one again:
- Fat, oil and leftover food can congeal in pipes – and you may not believe it, but some people do ‘chance it’ and put some foodstuffs down toilets!
- Baby wipes and cleaning wipes – even those that say ‘flushable’ – don’t break down and can therefore block your pipes
- Sanitary items (towels and tampons) are two of the biggest contributors to a blocked toilet
So, how can you stop your drains from overflowing?
- Start by binning sanitary items, nappies, wipes and condoms. Put them all in the bin immediately – and don’t be at all tempted to add them to the toilet bowl
- Leftover cooking oil, fat and food should be left to cool and put it in the bin
- Take chemicals, solvents and engine oil to your local recycling site – again, don’t be tempted to place any of these in the toilet bowl
- Likewise, medicines, tablets and needles should be disposed of correctly. Take these to your nearest pharmacist, hospital or health authority and don’t place them anywhere near your toilet.
So there you have it; follow our top tips via this handy guide to unblocking your toilet and you should never have an issue in your bathroom again. And if all else fails? Call out the professionals for a quick, smooth and reliable service, every time.