We have all been there at some point. No matter how many times we flush, the toilet just won’t budge – and in the worst-case scenario, it overflows onto the floor.
If your toilet is clogged, don’t panic, and don’t call for a plumber just yet, either. The ideas listed below can sometimes unclog your toilet safely without having to call a pro.
Use the Right Plunger
The first order of business for any clogged toilet should be the plunger, but it’s important that you’re using the right plunger if you want to actually free the clog. A toilet plunger has a soft rubber flap called a flange that folds out from the bottom of the plunger and fits over the toilet drain in a way that a standard sink plunger just cannot. Place the plunger over the opening in the bottom of the toilet and push it down quite forcefully several times, then flush. If you can’t get anywhere after a few attempts, a plunger may not be the right tool for the job.
Hot Water and Dish Soap (or Hair Conditioner)
Depending on the nature of the clog, some hot soapy water might be all you need to get things moving again. To try it for yourself, heat a gallon of water on the stove to a boil, then allow it to cool slightly. Pour half a cup of dish soap into your toilet, then carefully pour in the hot water. Wait for 10 minutes, then flush. Be very careful with this method, especially if your toilet bowl is naturally cold; the sudden transition from cold to hot can cause the bowl to crack. Repeat this process if the clog doesn’t break free.
The Gravity Flush
Sometimes you can force the clog through with what’s called a “gravity flush”, but you should only use this method if the toilet is not completely clogged up and is instead draining slowly. Otherwise, you may just end up with a bucket of water all over the floor. To do it, fill a five-gallon bucket with water, then flush the toilet. When the water level is at the lowest point inside the bowl, quickly dump water into the bowl from the bucket. In some cases, the sheer force of the water will push the clog out. Afterward, simply try to flush again. If it flushes normally, it worked!
Finally, if none of the aforementioned methods clear the clog, you can try utilizing a strong solution of household bleach to break down the clog. Pour one full cup of household bleach into the toilet and let it sit for 15 to 30 minutes, then carefully add hot (from the tap) water to wash it down. In a handful of cases, the bleach will break down the waste and allow the water to start flowing through the drain again.
When you are experiencing toilet clogs, these methods can help you avoid the expense of calling a plumber on many occasions – and for the most part, they’re safe to use. However, if you do not feel comfortable with these options, or if they simply do not work for you, it’s time to call a licensed professional.
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