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What to Do When You Have a Clogged Toilet

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By 1-800 Plumber +Air

May 30, 2023

Clogged toilets can ruin your day. Often, these clogs build up over time due to non-flushable items getting stuck in the toilet trap, and there is insufficient pressure to move (or remove) them. While there are some DIY steps for what to do if the toilet is clogged, the most important thing you can do is call a plumber before there's a risk of water damage or sewage backup in your home. At 1-800-Plumber + Air, we serve property owners with fast and convenient plumbing services so you don't have to stress. We've compiled some low-risk DIY tips for what to do if the toilet is clogged. But if they don't work, call out one of our professionals for a fast solution that actually solves the problem.

DIY Tips for Minor Clogs

Not only clog is an emergency at first. If you detect the first signs of a developing clog in your toilet, you may be able to fix it with supplies around your home. Try these approaches:

Flush With Hot Water

When water isn't enough to move the clog, try hot water as a way to soften and break down the clog. Pour some soap into the toilet bowl and heat the water—it should be hot to the touch but not boiling. Then pour it into the toilet and let it try to break down the clog for about 15 minutes before flushing.

Mix Baking Soda and Vinegar

Baking soda and vinegar neutralize each other. But this process creates a bubbly, frothy chemical reaction along the way, which might be powerful enough to eliminate a clog without causing damage. Pour approximately one cup of baking soda into the toilet, and then pour in a one-to-one mixture of vinegar and hot water. Both the hot water and the chemical reaction can start to break apart the clog and clear the way. Let the mixture sit for about half an hour before flushing the toilet.

Use a Toilet Plunger

If those relatively hands-off solutions for what to do if the toilet is clogged don't work, it's time to pull out the plunger. Angle the plunger so the cup will cover the hole in the toilet bowl, and then press down with the handle to create a seal. Then pull the handle up and down without breaking the seal. The goal is to generate enough pressure to dislodge the clog. Once it's moved, flush the toilet and see if it has removed the clog.

Do Not Use Drain-O

Many homeowners, when faced with a clog, might try to use a chemical drain cleaner. These are very powerful chemicals that can cause a lot of damage to your pipes and bathroom fixtures. It's extremely corrosive, and if it's overused, it can crack your toilet bowl, eat through plumbing seals and pipes, and even burn your lungs if you stay in the room. If a clog is serious enough for you to consider drain cleaner, call a plumber instead.

When to Call a Professional Plumber

When these simple DIY fixes aren't fixing the problem, call a professional plumber. They can do more than just dislodge the one-time problem. They can clean out the trap, advise you on how to prevent clogs in the future, and even determine if the clog is due to a problem with the toilet or pipes.

If you find yourself unclogging a toilet regularly, that could also be a sign it's time for a professional plumber—call them in before you're faced with a clog you can't fix.

Call 1-800-Plumber + Air for Clogged Toilets and Drains

Now that you know what to do if the toilet is clogged, take your time with a big plumbing emergency to find one you can trust. At 1-800-Plumber + Air, we've been providing Pearland homeowners with service appointments and a complete range of plumbing services. Contact us today to schedule an appointment or to learn more about how we can help.

FAQs About What to Do When You Have a Clogged Toilet

When your toilet is clogged, it can feel like an emergency. While moving fast can go a long way to preventing potential water damage, moving too fast can exacerbate the clog and wind up, causing more damage. So if you're looking for fast answers to unclog a toilet, read through these frequently asked questions and vetted answers. If you're worried a clog is too big or hard to fix, call in a plumber instead.

How Do You Unclog a Toilet Without a Plunger?

You can try several DIY options to dislodge a clog, even if you don't have a plunger. Try pouring these materials down a clogged toilet:

  1. Hot (but not boiling hot) water from waist height: Hot water can dislodge or break down clogged material, especially with the pressure of pouring it from waist height.

  2. Baking soda and vinegar: While these chemicals will neutralize each other, the reaction will provide enough frothing and bubbling to potentially dislodge the clog.

  3. Dishwashing detergent: Adding a bit of detergent before pouring the water can also help agitate and break down the clog—or at least provide lubrication.

When these methods don't work, you can also use your toilet brush to break up the clog and agitate the contents of the toilet bowl. A wire snake can provide the same action but do not scratch the porcelain.

Will a Clogged Toilet Eventually Unclog Itself?

Sometimes, clogged toilets can unclog themselves. But this only occurs if the clog is something water soluble, such as feces or toilet paper. The clog won't resolve itself for any other non-flushable or nonsoluble materials (such as wipes or toys). You'll need to fix it yourself or call in a plumber.

How Do You Unclog a Toilet When the Bowl Is Full?

Many DIY methods of unclogging a toilet rely on either adding a volume of liquid to the bowl or agitating the contents. But these methods can be impossible if the toilet bowl is already full. Try these steps instead:

  • First, if the bowl is still filling up with water, make it stop. Take off the tank lid and push the flap closed. You can even disconnect the chain or turn off the local water supply to ensure more water doesn't add to the problem.

  • Try a plunger. A funnel-cup plunger is often the best design for resolving a clogged toilet because it gets a good seal. Whatever kind you have, soften it first by putting it in hot (but not boiling) water so it can bend better and get a tighter seal. Try to use the plunger in as few strokes as possible by firmly pushing it down into place and then pulling up with a strong motion. This suction is critical for dislodging the clog.

  • Call a plumber. It can be tempting to try more and more DIY solutions. But when the bowl is full, it's much better to call it in than to keep going. Keep the disaster to a minimum by having a plumber safely unclog the toilet.

DIY vs. Calling a Plumber

DIY methods are best reserved for minor and infrequent clogs. But if you can't make the clog budge or your toilet is clogging more frequently, call a professional plumbing service to get to the bottom of the problem. This is the best way to remove buildup or material trapped in the toilet trap, determine if you need a new toilet, and reduce the total number of clogs.

What Can You Pour Down a Toilet to Unclog It?

Hot water, detergent, and a two-step process with baking soda and vinegar can each help unclog a toilet. But think twice about using a chemical drain cleaner to break up a clog. This material can eat through plastic seals, etch the porcelain in the toilet bowl, and cause chemical burns.

Image Sources: Zhuravlev Andrey, Pixel-Shot / Shutterstock