A clogged toilet can be a real nightmare. There you were minding your own business – while ahem – doing your business – when all of a sudden what should be going down is coming up! The good news is that unclogging a toilet, while potentially messy, is not usually too difficult.

Here are the steps to help you avert disaster and unclog a toilet.

plunging a toilet with glovesStep 1: Stop the bowl from filling up

The first thing you want to do is make sure that the toilet bowl does not overflow. Remove the lid from the tank and close the flapper (the flapper is the device that allows water to drain from the tank into the bowl).

Having the top off of the tank will also let you monitor the toilet more closely so that when you do your “test-flush” after unclogging the toilet, you can quickly close the flapper again to prevent a bathroom flood if necessary.

Step 2: Get your plunger ready

Most people when they see that their toilet is clogging up want to dive right in with the plunger. But because soft pliable plungers work better than stiff cold ones, it is worth the extra time to run the rubber part of the plunger under some hot water first.

The softened rubber will make it easier for you to get a good seal with the plunger making the whole process easier.

Step 3: Plunge correctly

Take your time with the plunger and make sure you get a good seal before you begin. Remember that the upward motion is just as important as the downward motion. Give several good plunges and see if the toilet clears. If it does – congratulations! You’ve just unclogged your toilet.

If the toilet bowl starts filling up, just reach in the tank and close the flapper before beginning the process again.

Step 4: More difficult clogs may require an auger

An auger is a tool that you can buy at most hardware stores that can help you with more difficult clogs that are deeper down the exit hole. Just snake the cable down the toilet until you reach the clog. In some cases it will push the clog free – or, alternatively, the auger may hook the clog and allow you to pull it up and discard.

Bonus tip: For stubborn clogs try adding hot water

Adding a few cups of hot water into your toilet bowl and letting it sit for a couple of minutes can help break up toilet paper and human waste. If you have a stubborn clog, you may want to try this before you begin plunging.

Another trick is to add some dishwasher detergent which can also help to break up the clog.

Know when to call in the pros

While minor clogs are often easy to clear yourself, there are some circumstances where you may need to call in a plumber. If you notice water backing up in odd spots when you flush the toilet (such as the sink or bathtub), it means the clog is in the main line and is no longer a DYI kind of job.

Wentworth Plumbing offers 24/7 emergency service in the Hamilton Ontario region, so feel free to call us anytime day or night.