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How to Unclog a Toilet When Nothing Works
Trying to unclog a toilet with nothing but your bare hands is not advised, but there are some things you can try before breaking out the plunger. It may be time to call out an expert plumber. However, before you do that, check this list of possible reasons why the toilet is clogged and try one of these fixes first! This how-to guide will show you how to unclog the toilet when nothing works.
Before we begin, Do this:
Clogged toilets aren’t fun. First, if your toilet isn’t draining, you need to stop water from coming into the bowl. You have two choices for how to do this:
- Turn off the shutoff valve on your main water supply line.
- Close the shutoff valve on your toilet water supply line.
We do this so that no more water can get in the bowl and possibly overflow the bowl itself.
Gather up your tools
Next, grab some rubber gloves. Whenever you are working with the toilet, rubber gloves should always be worn. This is to protect you from the germs that are on the rim of the toilet bowl. In case you do not have any rubber gloves, a dishcloth will work just fine.
Another good idea is to wear protective gear around your eyes and mouth. You don’t want to get dirty water anywhere on your face, and doing these steps; there can be toilet water splashing back at you. Getting liquid waste on your hands or face makes this an even less pleasant experience than it already is.
Now that we have all the tools we need and protection for your hands, we can begin.
How to unclog a toilet
The goal of getting a toilet drain effectively working is to break up the clog, get the clog removed either down through the toilet drain and down the drain pipe, or remove it via the toilet bowl. In most cases, we will be trying to move the clog, usually toilet tissue, through the plumbing system.
Step 1: Check for clogs in the bowl.
It could be that the problem is just a matter of something being flushed that should not have been flushed in the first place. If you think this may be the case, you can try using a plumbers snake to try and clear the toilet clog. If this does not work, move on to Step 2.
Step 2: Try a plunger
If the bowl is empty or nearly empty, you may have a clog in your main drain line. The easiest way to check for this is to put a plunger over the hole in the bottom of the toilet and plunge it a few times. If this does not work, move on to Step 3.
The first thing you will notice about an obstructed main drain line is that the water level in the toilet bowl will go down significantly. This can make checking for clogs very difficult. If this is the case, you may need to remove some water from the bowl so you can check for clogs. To do this, pour a few gallons of water in a bucket and use it to refill the bowl once you have checked for clogs.
Step 3: Try a plumbing snake
If plunging does not clear the drain, this means that there is something solid blocking the line somewhere. To find this blockage, you will need to use a plumbing snake. This is a flexible wire coat hanger-like instrument that can be used to clear clogs caused by things like toys or feminine hygiene products.
Before using the snake, ensure that it has been lubricated with dish soap. This will make it easier to move through the line.
Simply bring the end of the snake out of the bowl and drop it in the main drain line. Guide it into where you think the clog might be (you may need to feel for resistance), and then carefully turn the handle on one end of the snake until you have broken up all or most of the blockage.
If you cannot break up the clog, bring the snake back out of the toilet and re-lubricate it. Then move down to where you think the blockage might be and try again until you are able to clear it.
Step 4: Try a Toilet Auger
If everything else fails or this is your last resort, you may need to use a toilet auger. These are particular types of augers used just for toilets. They come in 6-foot lengths and have an adjustable wire that can be lengthened or shortened with the turn of a handle.
The way they work is simple: All you do is insert the head of the auger into the toilet bowl, turn the handle of it until you break up the clog (just like with a regular snake) and then pull it back towards yourself. The head is designed to grab items that are causing the clog and bring them out of the drain.
Step 5: Flush the toilet a few more times
Once you have broken up and cleared the clog, you may need to flush the toilet a few times to ensure that it is completely clear. This is especially important if this was your last resort since food can stick to the sides of your pipes. If everything went well, you should be able to flush normally again.
If that doesn’t work here are some more tips for unclogging a toilet when nothing works.
Best Tips For How to Unclog a Toilet When Nothing Works
Unclogging a toilet when nothing works isn’t exactly the world’s best pastime. So we’ve listed the easiest ways first and then get into some trickier ones. Usually, the close is from too much toilet paper or other organic waste. If you know it is a toy or something that can’t disintegrate some of these will not apply.
1. Baking Soda and Vinegar
This is a simple solution that has been known to clear a clogged toilet. You will need
-1/2 cup of baking soda
-1/2 cup of vinegar
Wear rubber gloves and place the baking soda in the toilet bowl and add the vinegar, which will cause bubbling. If you are having trouble getting it into the drain, use something to squirt it in. You may also try plunging the toilet at the same time you add the baking soda/vinegar mixture. Wait 10 minutes, then flush the baking soda and vinegar mixture with hot water.
It’s important that you gradually pour in the vinegar and monitor the reaction as you don’t want the fizzing to bubble over onto the bathroom floor.
This mixture is great for clearing a toilet with a slow drain. If your toilet bowl was clogged for days you might want to try the next solution below.
After the mixture has been in the clogged toilet bowl for some time you can add a gallon of hot water. This will ensure that everything has been cleared out of the toilet bowl.
Note: If this doesn’t work, you might need to try a plunger, which is another great way to clear your toilet when nothing else works.
2. Dishwashing Detergent and Boiling Water
If the first one doesn’t work the next step is to try dishwashing detergent. First, boil some water and pour it directly into the toilet bowl. This will warm up the toilet water and hopefully help dissolve anything that is causing the clog. After a few minutes if the warm water hasn’t done anything add in some dishwashing detergent and see if it can break up the clog.
Now, pour about 1 cup of dish soap into the bowl and quickly follow it with about 1 cup of boiling water. Let the hot, sudsy water break up the blockage and then flush.
Often times, using a plunger is all that’s needed to clear the most common types of clogs from the toilet. To use a plunger, simply cover the hole with it and push it up and down several times to create suction. Typically you will want to move quickly but not too hard as that can force water out of the bowl.
Here’s how you can use a plunger to unclog your toilet:
1. First, pour in about 1/2 gallon or so of water into the bowl. This will ensure that the plunger is fully submerged and can create a better seal against the bowl to remove the clog.
2. Next, put the plunger directly over top of the drain and get ready to plunge. Make sure your hands are not in the way of any moving parts or you may risk being hit by the toilet. Keep your face out of the way as well to avoid getting hit in the head or causing injury.
3. Then, push down all at once with about 25 or more forceful plunges (up and down). If this does not work after a few tries, you will have to move on to another method and try again later.
4. Drain Snake
This type of toilet snake tool can be used to clear out most blockages that occur within your drain. This is a good option if you have had issues with your drain before and are familiar with how these tools work.
All you have to do is place the head of the snake into the drain and allow it to go down as far as it can.
Once you have done that, carefully turn the handle of the tool to pull out whatever may be causing your blockage.
The one major benefit of a snake tool is that they are relatively easy to use for clearing a toilet trap and getting your toilet to flow freely again.
5. Use a Wet Dry Vacuum
If the toilet clog is something solid that can’t be broken down, like a child toy, the next best option is a wet dry vacuum. Just make sure that you never stick the end of the hose into the toilet bowl as it could cause an overflow.
The reason we suggest going with this tool is due to its power and ease of use.
Use the flexible vacuum hose (not an attachment) and guide it into the toilet bowl, with an old towel or cloth around it. Make sure the seal is a completely airtight vacuum, otherwise it will not work.
When it goes into the toilet bowl hole we want to make sure it is an airtight seal so that it can get the best suction and loosen whatever is in there.
If you don’t have a proper seal, then the vacuum will just suck air in from outside the toilet bowl and you won’t be able to move the blockage.
The reason for using a wet-dry vac is that they are designed to handle water, whereas your normal cleaning vacuum is only meant for dry items.
6. Use an Auger
If nothing has worked so far, the last option is to use an auger.
The auger can be used in two ways: using the handle and turning it while feeding into the toilet, or by driving it down into the toilet while standing outside of it.
Both methods work equally well and simply require you to feed the cable (about 3 ft long) into the toilet.
The reason this works well is that it can be driven down with a lot of force and will break up whatever is causing the clog. Once you think you have loosened the clog, you can break out the toilet plunger to dislodge the rest of it.
Note: When using any of these tools, always wear safety equipment such as gloves and eye protection to prevent injury from chemical exposure, broken glass, or sharp objects.
7. Use Wire Hanger
If you don’t have an auger, you can use a wire hanger to clear the toilet.
Simply straighten the hanger and bend one end into a hook.
Then push it down into the toilet drain hole (after making sure there isn’t anything else around that you could accidentally snag).
Once you have fed it through, use pliers to grab onto whatever is blocking your way and slowly pull it out.
The reason this works is because the wire hanger can easily bend into different angles to get around any potential blockage which you couldn’t do with just your hands.
Remember that if the clog doesn’t come loose after several tries, stop trying until you have more information about what’s causing the problem.
8. Use a chemical drain cleaner
If nothing is working and you are sure it isn’t a children’s toy or a feminine hygiene product you can use a chemical drain cleaner to break down the matter that is causing the clog. Simply pour in the chemical and allow it to sit for about 30 minutes before you go at the clog again (or whatever the instructions tell you to do).
If you have a septic system it is best to make sure the solution is a septic-safe solution so that you don’t damage the eco-balance in your septic tank.
Related: Click here for the best septic safe toilet paper
CAUTION: If you have a septic tank, never put the following chemicals down the toilet:
Liquid Plumr or any other pipe or septic system cleaner. This can harm your septic system and cause it to fail. If this happens, you will need to replace your entire septic system which is expensive and not covered by homeowners insurance.
9. When do I call the plumber?
If you have gone through all of the ideas above and still can’t figure out how to fix the problem, it’s time to call a professional.
You should only use this as your last resort as these professionals can cost you a lot of money.
However, they will be able to completely clear out whatever is blocking your toilet and have it running smoothly in no time.
To find a plumber In your area, click here or the button below.
What causes a toilet to become clogged?
There are many reasons why a toilet becomes clogged. Some of the most common reasons are:
- People flushing things they shouldn’t be flushing down the toilet.
- Clogs caused by hair and other personal items that have been flushed down the toilet building up in the drain pipes.
- Large pieces of toilet paper or fecal matter that won’t flush properly.
How to prevent a toilet from clogging
To prevent a clogged toilet, there are certain things that you can do to keep it clean and reduce the chances of something getting stuck in the drain.
Here is a list of things you can do to prevent toilet clogging :
- Be careful when you put liquids down the toilet. Some of these can clog your drain and cause problems. Instead, put some of them in a container or bag and throw it in the trash instead.
- Always be mindful of what goes down the toilet. Even though it may go down easily one time, you never know what could cause a clog in the future. If you suspect that something has gone down your toilet that should not have, do not try to use any of the methods mentioned above as this could make the problem worse. Instead, call your plumber right away.
- Use a plunger whenever possible instead of using any of the items mentioned above or using chemicals. This will be able to clear out most clogs without having to use anything but water. If you are unable to get rid of it with a plunger, move on to one of the items mentioned above.
- Never put feminine hygiene products down the toilet even if it is a “flushable” product (which they rarely are). These can cause major clogs and you should throw them in the trash instead of putting them down the toilet. If you have any questions on what items to put down your toilet, ask your plumber.
- Be careful what you flush down your toilet. Even if it’s something that is biodegradable or natural, some items just aren’t meant to be flushed and can cause major problems. Be aware of things like diaper wipes, paper towels, rags, etc.
Now that we have gone through the steps of clearing a clog, it’s time for you to go out and actually try these methods for unclogging toilets. Good luck!