A clogged drain is a common household issue. The block in the drain can be due to accumulated toilet paper, flushing foreign objects or even the malfunction of the flush itself. Do not worry, we have got DIY solutions with household items to unblock the toilet drain.
Toilets blocks can cause unrest at home. It is the place where you get to at the start of every day. Malfunctioning toilet leads to unpleasant user experience, bad odour and worst of all, overflow of water which is very undesirable and unpleasant to clean. But why leave it until it overflows or wait for the professional to arrive.
Most of the times toilet clogging is due to blocks in the toilet bowl or a little ahead of it which can be DIY unblocked with readily available household items. We have got a lot of easy methods, but before that, we will see why drains get clogged.
Why is my toilet clogged?
If you notice the dump not being flushed out properly or the water draining slowly, your drain is clogged or about to be blocked completely. It can be of varied reasons. Here are some of the most common ones,
Dropping unwanted objects into the flush:
The toilet drain can flush toilet paper because it is easily dissolving and the trap is sized enough to pass it through. Anything bigger or thicker than that like regular wet wipes can be a problem in the long run. And throwing in other toiletry disposables like dental floss can lead to immediate clog development.
Not enough force in the flush:
With time, flushes can get less effective. Due to mineral sediments that accumulate in the pores of the closet or the flush tank itself. This will reflect in a slower release of water at a speed not enough to flush the solids through the toilet trap.
Hard water usage:
Hard water is often a reason for plumbing related issues. The salts can sediment anywhere in the water path. In the drain line, sewer or even in the flush tank. So, check thoroughly and avoid using hard water, if possible.
Block deep in the line:
There is a chance of a block appearing further deep in the plumbing line or in the sewer. It can be hair and other small particles causing a block or sewer filled to brim causing slow intake. Multiple toilets and drains having slow draining or no draining issue is a sign of a block deep in the line or sewer. You will need to call a professional plumber in this case.
Inefficient toilet trap:
The toilet trap or (commonly known as) the bowl is the S-shaped part that retains the water and prevents reversal of odour and waste from the sewer. Some traps are narrower especially the low flow ones. Especially the first-generation low flow closets which were infamous for their inefficient flushing.
Quality of toilet paper:
An ideal toilet paper dissipates and dissolves in water very easily. If you go for luxury toilet paper chances of it sticking to the sides or developing a clog is high. Now comes the question of quality vs quantity in choosing toilet paper. 1ply is the easiest to dissolve but you end up using more of it compared to a 3ply toilet paper. But we still recommend 1ply if you have a smaller toilet trap as it dissolves better and passes through even when used in a higher number. 2ply toilet paper is the middle ground between usability and readiness to dissolve and most abundant in the market.
How to unclog the drain?
Method 1 – Toilet plunging
It is always advisable to start with a plunger, not because it is the most common toilet unclog-er for ages, but it is a one-stop solution for most common clog situations.
How to use a plunger to unblock the drain?
A plunger is a tool that seals the toilet drain airtight and enables to push and pull water in the trap with force to unplug the clogged portion. Modern plungers come with an extendable flange which also can be multi-purposed for showers and tubs.
Ready yourself for some splashes of water. A rubber glove, apron, face mask and a towel at hands reach would help.
- If your toilet plunger has a flange, extend it and gently try to seal the drain.
- Start with a gentle plunge and gradually increase the pace. The speed of pushing and pulling will create a force that will unblock the drain.
- You might have to keep plunging for some time for it to loosen and break open.
Also, make sure to have enough water to cover the mouth of the plunger for it to work the best.
Don’t worry if your toilet remains clogged after plunging we have got few more handy tricks to unclog.
Method 2 – Drain snake
What is a drain snake?
The drain snake is a flexible yet strong wire coil that can be used to break the clog in the drain or floor level pipeline. It ends with a corkscrew-like tip and has a handle that can be repositioned. It should cost you less than $10 and readily available in most stores.
How to use a drain snake to unclog the toilet?
- As always follow safety guidelines to prevent yourself and the floor from getting messy. (more on that towards the end of the article)
- Place the handle touching the water in the closet and use the handle to unwind the snake (wire coil, also called an auger) into the trap.
- You might feel slight difficulty when the tip is passing through turns but don’t worry. It is designed in such a way that it bends before it scratches the inner wall of the closet or plumbing. If you find it hard to crank it in, pull a little bit and push in with pressure. Exert pressure and pass the auger deep as possible.
- You might feel a small wall breaking which means you have removed the clog successfully. If not run the drain snake as far as you could before pulling it out.
- The tip breaks only a narrow portion of the block. To avoid slow draining in the future pull and push with pressure a few times to get rid of the block in the drain completely.
Go for the modified/advanced version of toilet snake called closet auger that is designed to hook and pull objects in the drain. The wider hook at the front and a long handle that partially goes into the trap is a plus for this model.
The functionality of the drain snake is not limited to toilet drains. You can use it with bathroom sinks and most other drains.
Method 3 – unblock the drain without a plunger or drain snake
Tools like plunger and drain snake aren’t the only go. There are simpler and intense ways to deal with clogging using kitchen ingredients. Let us start with something light and readily available. You don’t need to plunge into the drain and handle the dripping mix of debris and water anymore.
DIY toilet unblocking – Dish soap + hot water
The simple combo of dish soap and hot water works wonders because both soapiness and heat loosen the debris that might have clogged the toilet. Added with a forcible entry easily unblocks if it doesn’t have any foreign objects.
How to use dish soap and hot water to unblock the toilet fast?
- To attain the maximum soapiness, take a few pumps of dish soap in a 5-gallon bucket and fill it with hot water (not boiling-hot which is harmful to the porcelain).
- Now dump it from a height enough to add pressure to the water but not splash outside of the closet.
- If the above method doesn’t work use the same mixture and slowly add it to the drain and wait for 30minutes to soak and loosen before dumping the mix again.
Use the fizz of Baking soda + vinegar to unblock the toilet drain
Introduce one cup of baking soda and two cups of vinegar into the drain. The mixture is going to make a lot of fizzes but let it be. Wait for some time before you force water or a mixture of dish soap and hot water into the drain again.
A water bottle could break the clog
If you don’t have a plunger lying around you can simply use a water bottle to exert pressure. Take an opened water bottle that is squeezable. Dip the tip into the drain and squeeze it at one go. It is not as effective as a plunger but can be put to use as a DIY alternative. Keep in mind this might turn out messier than the plunger.
DIY drain unclog & toilet flush repair using a metal hanger
Yes, a simple metal hanger could solve your drain issues. Not just toilet block it can be used for most drain issues.
Unwind the metal hanger into a strip. Some hangers are not wound. In that case, use a pair of pliers to cut close to the neck and stretch it apart. Voila! You have a DIY drain snake of your own. Follow similar steps as a drain snake.
It can also be used to clear the deposit in the flush pores inwards of the rim of the toilet. Flush cleaning is another vast topic to be dealt with.
If something stays unclogged still, you should be looking for your phone to dial a plumber. You might even require a complete re-do or change of toilet.
Safety measures to be followed before, during and after cleaning or unclogging the toilet and drain
The two aspects needing protection are yourself (the DIY enthusiast), the floor and nearby fixtures.
- Remove objects that are around the splashing distance from the toilet.
- If you can’t displace it just cover it up with a disposable polythene packer or tissue.
- For your protection use rubber gloves without fail.
- A face shield or mask will help work close to the closet and not get splashes. A splash-proof apron will also be a nice addition.
- Keep a disinfectant handy.
- Open the windows so that you aren’t suffocated with bad odour.
Unblocking a toilet is a pretty easy task even for a DIY newbie. So, never be afraid of DIY home improvements. Check out our blog for more.
By the way, don’t forget to clean the toilet before leaving.