How to Unclog Your Clogged Toilet

Almost every one has to deal with a clogged toilet at some time. Typically a little plunging sorts things out, but there are times when nothing seems to help.

Then there are the problems that recur, in toilets that used to be trouble-free. Persistent and recurring clogged toilets suggest the presence of a solid object lodged in the trap way of the toilet bowl.

Let the Plumbing Geek share his advice with you before you take on this DIY plumbing project!

With a Plunger

The first order of business when dealing with your clogged toilet is to clear the drain if you can. Use your plumbers helper (your toilet plunger). If plunging doesn't work, it's time to up the ante.

With a Toilet Auger

There is a drain cable made just for a plugged toilet. it's called a toilet auger. I use pro-grade augers made by “General Wire Co.” The augers my clients purchase from retail stores and use before they call me look like toys next to what the General makes.

I don't really care if I push the object through or pull the object out of a toilet. If it will push though it is not likely to hang up in a three or four inch drain.

If you clear your clogged toilet with the auger that's great! Do this simple test to see if you're really done. The toilet should flush and surge down the drain like normal,

  • Take about three feet of toilet paper and lay it back and forth onto the surface of the water.
  • Now flush the toilet.
  • If the toilet still flushes normally give it three more feet of paper and flush it again.

If the toilet acts normally after three toilet paper laden flushes I would declare it to be clear. If any of the "test flushes" of toilet paper stop up the bowl, then there's an object in it.

By Lifting your Toilet

If you still have a blocked toilet even after using a toilet auger, you may have to remove it from its flange and work from the horn. The horn of a toilet is the ridge of china that sits directly above or into the floor flange.

Before you start to remove the toilet from the floor, you need to inspect it with a mirror and flash light from the bowl side. To do this you'll have to get the water out of the bowl.

To remove the water from the bowl for any reason I use a small boat bilge pump I get from any retail store that carries boating supplies. This pump and a bucket will get all but a cup of water from a toilet bowl and or a toilet tank. Turn off the water to the tank and pump it also so as not to have it fill the bowl while you are not ready.

You may have to add and pump water a few times to get the bowl clean enough to use the mirror. A 1 ½ or 2 inch mechanics mirror on a stem works well with a flash light to let you see up into the trap-way.

If you find that a small object is causing your clogged toilet, and you are able to remove it... great. If you find a larger object and are not able to remove it, or if you find no object, the next step is to remove the toilet from its flange. Here's lots of info about how to remove a toilet. Now you come to a moment of assessment. It's time to decide if this clogged toilet is really a “keeper”. If it's cracked in the tank or the bowl, it should be replaced. Fractures in china are like those in a windshield- they get longer.

Some vintage toilets develop fine lines, or crazing, in the glaze. If it matches the rest of the bathroom fixtures and is still a decent toilet in good condition, then carry on. I was just trying to bail you out if I could from the rest of this nasty job.

You already have the water out of the toilet bowl, so disconnect the water supply and remove the securing nuts. Gather some old towels to use. Lift it clear of the toilet flange and set it on those towels. Lean it back until the bottom of the back of the tank is on the floor along with the back of the base.

If the object is now visible in the horn, remove it if you can. If it will not pass through the horn you may have to push it back the way it came with the auger.

If there's still no object visible, try the mirror again from the horn this time, or just auger the bowl from the horn side. Also try looking in one side while shining the light into the other side.

Once you have removed the object from the toilet you will have to reset it. Here's how you'll either reset or install a toilet.

Back to Clogged Drains