Ways to Unclog a Toilet – And Only One Requires a Plunger!
Uh, oh. It’s happened to all of us, but it’s always embarrassing nonetheless. Learn the tricks of how to unclog a toilet and you’ll learn how to do this with minimal mess. You may even get away with it without anyone knowing the clog happened in the first place, which is the goal, right?
1. Create a Volcano in Your Toilet
Remember that model of a volcano you made back in third grade? You combined baking soda and white vinegar, and a foaming substance bubbled out of the top of your fake volcano. Baking soda and vinegar is a marvelous cleaning agent, and when dumped into a clogged toilet, often will break up the clog without you having to do a thing.
This is what you want to do: combine two cups hot water with two cups white vinegar. Pour one cup of baking soda into the clogged toilet, and then chase it with the hot water/vinegar mixture. Leave the volcano mix to do its job, checking in about 30 minutes. In most cases the clog will have come apart, and a simple flush with send it all down the drain. Plus your toilet bowl will be cleaner!
2. Use the Degreasing Power of Dish Detergent to Break Up the Clog
If you hate the smell of vinegar or don’t have enough room in the toilet bowl to do the volcano trick, try this inexpensive and very effective plumbing trick. Pour a half cup of dish detergent (degreasing dish detergent like Dawn works best) into the clogged toilet. Follow this with three to four cups of boiling water. The boiling water and degreasers will break up the clog, sending it right through.
Hint: This is a great way to discreetly unclog a toilet if you ever get stuck with a clogged toilet when you are on a date or at a friend’s house. Look around the bathroom for liquid soap – shampoo or hand soap will do the job almost as well as dish detergent – and dump a liberal amount of liquid soap or shampoo into the toilet bowl. Then follow with hot water from the tap. With any luck, you’ll be able to flush away before anyone suspects anything is awry. Plus the soap helps a little to disguise the smell, which is a plus.
3. Use a Little Petroleum Jelly on the Plunger
Keep a plunger in your home — a durable rubber plunger with a flange works the best. What many people don’t realize is the seal is the key to a plunger working. Just put a little petroleum jelly (Vaseline works well) around the rim of the plunger, press the plunger around the drain so the seal is tight, and add water if the top of the plunger is not submerged (otherwise you won’t get an effective plunge). Plunge until you break up the clog. Add hot water as needed to keep the plunger submerged.
As s side note, for the sake of comfort to guests who use your bathroom, always keep a plunger in every guest bathroom. There are plungers that come with modest and sanitary holders, intended for this very reason. Visitors to your home will appreciate your thoughtfulness.
4. Head to the Hardware Store for a Snake
If the volcano, dish soap, and plunger have all failed, you’ll want to bring out the big guns: the snake. Talk to someone at the hardware store to ensure you don’t get an industrial grade snake that can do serious damage to your pipes; you want something pretty tame because the cost of plumbing repairs is not low when it comes to damaged pipes.
Feed the flexible end of the snake into the problem area and then twist the snake handle to break up the clog. Don’t force anything; if you hit a blockage that seems immovable, be cautious and try backing out the snake and trying to feed it in again. Be careful not to further impact the problem area, making the clog worse.
Don’t let a Clog Turn into Catastrophe: Camera Inspect your Pipes
It’s hard keeping tabs on everything that runs in your home, especially your plumbing. With how often sinks and toilets are used, something can easily go wrong. Whether that’s a clogged drain, backed up toilet, or a leaking pipe, the upkeep can get overwhelming. Sometimes the problem can’t be seen on the surface or revealed with a plunger. Some plumbing problems run deeper than your drain lines. If you’re consistently struggling with plumbing problems, then it’s time for a camera inspection.
When It’s Time for a Camera Inspection
A camera inspection helps to identify problems that can’t be seen with the naked eye, but that doesn’t mean it’s always obvious to tell when you’re due for one. Luckily, there are a few warning signs to look for. Clogs, breakages, and other problems that happen deep within your sewer line can end up with particular results. If your plumbing is due for a camera inspection, here’s what to look out for.
- Drains that are backing up or draining slowly. A slow drain or a drain that doesn’t function, are both signs that there is something wrong with your sewer line. If you can’t unclog a drain with a plunger or other common household methods, then a camera inspection will help detect the blockage that clogs your plumbing.
- Leaking under the foundation. Finding a leak underneath your home’s foundation can typically be a sign of a damaged sewer line. Finding the source of the leak, however, can be difficult without digging up the line. A camera inspection might find the source of the problem without accessing the sewer line.
- Inconsistent water pressure. If there is a leak in your plumbing or sewer line, that can cause a drop in your home’s water pressure. A pipe that leaks inside your home is easy to spot, but a leak in your sewer line is much trickier to spot without a camera inspection. A leaking sewer line left untreated can eventually result in some severe and costly damage and is best inspected and treated by a plumber immediately.
- You just purchased a new home. If you’re interested in purchasing a new home or have recently bought a new home, it’s a good idea to have a professional inspect your sewer and plumbing lines. A camera inspection is especially crucial if you’re buying an older home that could be more likely to have sewer problems, such as old pipes or tree root incursion.
What are the signs that you have a main sewer line clog?
1. Fixtures are clogged
Usually the most obvious sign of a main sewer line clog is when multiple drains are backed up at the same time. The first drain to experience problems will probably be the toilet, but other main-level fixtures like showers or tubs can also be involved, as well. If you suspect a sewer line clog, check the toilet first, following with the other drains in your bathroom.
2. Check the toilets
Toilets have the most direct path from the main drain and they also have the biggest drain pipes out of all of the fixtures, so this is why you can usually spot the problem here first. The toilet will do things like not flush properly, or make strange noises when water is running elsewhere in a sink, tub, or washing machine. This is a sure sign of a main drain problem.
3. Run sink water
Trapped air in the plumbing system can be a sign of sewer line issues. While running the sink water, you may hear the toilet making strange noises or notice the toilet’s water level rising.
4. Turn on the washing machine
A more unexpected sign of a main drain clog will come to light once you run your washing machine. If the water draining from your washing machine causes your toilet to overflow or backs up and starts to come out of shower or tub drains, it’s more than likely a sign the drain is clogged. Turn off the water supply to your home and call our plumbers for service.
How to unclog a sink drain:
Sure, a plunger is great for a clogged toilet, but what about a clogged garbage disposal or drain? James stands by a few genius DIY methods to unclog your drain in no time:
- A bent wire hanger: Straighten out a regular wire coat hanger as much as possible, then bend one end to create a hook. Push it through the drain and start fishing. Hair and all other buildup should come out. Finally, run hot water to really clear things up.
- Baking soda and vinegar: Create a mixture of 1/3 cup baking soda and 1/3 cup vinegar. After it starts to fizz, pour the mixture down the drain right away to help break down all the gunk. Let things sit for about an hour (or overnight is even better!) then flush it out with hot water.
- Boiling water: Boil a bunch of water in a tea kettle then slowly pour it down the drain in two or three stages, letting the hot water work its magic for several seconds between each pour. Of course, make sure your sink is empty first.
What is a Toilet Trap or Trap Way?
Look at the back of your toilet bowl and you will see a curving design in the outline. This is the pathway that the water waste flows when the toilet is flushed. In a working toilet, everything goes through the trap way and empties out into the drainage line.
If the toilet fills with water instead of rushing through the trap there is huge probability something is stuck in the pathway. There will be instances when the clog is in the drain. In these instances, you’ll have water backing up into the tubs and sinks throughout the house.
Removing a clog as soon as possible is necessary for various reasons. One, you don’t want to be inconvenienced by not having use of your toilet. Two, it is unsanitary to leave waste stilling in the bowl.
It is always a good idea to have a plunger, toilet auger, and plumbing snake in the garage. Before you begin to work on the clog try to determine the source of the clog. There is also the option to call a plumber but before it gets to that try these DIY hacks.