How to Fix a Clogged Toilet
STEP 1: TURN OFF THE FLOW OF WATER TO THE TOILET!
If your toilet’s still filling with water and about to overflow, quickly reach around the back and turn the shutoff valve 90 degrees to turn off the water supply to the toilet. If you do this quickly enough, you’ll stop the flow of water before it overflows the toilet and makes a big mess of your bathroom.
STEP 2: PLUNGE LIKE A PRO
Almost everyone has a plunger at home, but most people don’t have much luck clearing their toilet clogs because they don’t know the right technique.
To plunge like a pro, you need to start with the right equipment. We’ve all seen the classic plunger that looks like this:
Unfortunately, these old-school plungers just don’t work very well. They don’t seal well against the toilet bowl, so water squirts out when you push down on them. Even if you get a good seal, they don’t move enough water to do the job.
What you really want is a plunger with a flange for a better seal, and a big “cup” to move a lot of water. Here are two plungers that we really like from Korky and Moen:
Don’t go crazy plunging right away. Start off by dipping the cup sideways into the toilet bowl to fill it with water. Pushing water into a drain is what unclogs it – pushing air doesn’t accomplish anything. Once the cup’s as full of water as you can get, wiggle it around the bottom of the bowl to make sure it seals well. Once it does, *then* start plunging.
Make sure you have a good seal while you’re plunging. You know you’re doing it right if you feel some resistance – that’s because you’re pushing water down the drain and into the clog. Stop once and a while to make sure there’s still water in the cup, and refill it if you need to. If there isn’t enough water in the toilet bowl, briefly reopen the toilet’s shutoff valve until you’ve got enough.
STEP 3: ENTER THE SNAKE
If you’ve been plunging for a few minutes without any luck, the next step is to try a toilet auger, or snake. An auger is basically a long, thin spring with a handle on one end, and a cutting head on the other:
You can get an auger or snake at any hardware store.
Using an auger sounds easy, but doing it right is an art form. To start off with, wear gloves, because it’s a messy job! Pull the cutting head all the way into the handle, then gently place the head in the drain at the bottom of the toilet bowl. Be careful – it’s easy to scratch the porcelain bowl with the metal head. Once the head’s in place, turn the handle clockwise and let the head pull itself into the drain. Keep turning until you meet resistance, then start switching between counterclockwise and clockwise turns to break up the blockage with the snake’s head. You’ll know you’ve done the job when the water drains out of the toilet bowl.
Now it’s time for the messy part. Retract the snake by turning the handle counterclockwise and pulling on it. Be careful pulling it out of the bowl, to make sure the head doesn’t scratch the porcelain. The cable will be wet, and might be covered in waste, so try not to drip everywhere. Clean and dry the cable and head, then lubricate them with a light oil so they don’t rust.
STEP 4: STEP AWAY FROM THE DRANO!
We admit it – it’s tempting to use Drano. The sales pitch sounds great: just pour it into your toilet, wait for a while, and voila, your toilet clog’s gone.
Drano will sometimes get the job done, but reality isn’t easy as nice as the sales pitch:
Drano takes a while to work even when it does work. Depending on the product, you may need to leave it in the toilet for an hour or more. Sometimes you need to reapply and wait some more. For apartments and homes with just one toilet, sometimes you can’t afford to wait that long.
Drano only works on soft clogs. A lot of our blocked toilet calls end up being a toy or other small object that was dropped into the toilet. Drano might be able to remove waste that’s built up around the object, but until you remove the object itself, your toilet will be clog again quickly.
Drano is nasty stuff. Just like it eats away clogs, it can also eat away your skin, your floor if any splashes out, and your pipes. If you mix it with other cleaning products, it can create toxic gases.
You don’t want to plunge or auger your toilet after using Drano, since you’ll probably get some on you, your floor, and your tools. A plumber can still clear your clogged toilet, but at best they’ll be unhappy about it, and at worst they may charge you extra for having to deal with corrosive chemicals.
Our advice is to back away from the Drano. If you want to pour something down your drain, try boiling water and dish soap instead.
STEP 5: CALL SOS DRAIN SERVICES
If you’ve tried the steps above and they didn’t work, call SOS Drain Services at (403) 295-8989 and we’ll fix your blocked toilet quickly and affordably. We've been fixing drains for Calgary-area homes and businesses since 1992. We specialize in drain cleaning, and we’re so good at it that other plumbers call us for jobs they can’t handle!
We have motorized augers and high-pressure cleaning jets to blast through clogs that hand tools can’t clear. We fix clogged drains for restaurants, office buildings, and parkades every day, so blocked toilets are a piece of cake for us.