There's nothing quite like a clogged toilet to grind a busy household to a halt, so correcting the problem is a high priority for most homeowners. While clogged toilets aren't rare, they do present a challenge if the clog seems especially stubborn.
Fortunately, the average clog can be resolved by homeowners, and below are two effective techniques that can help you remove a clog and restore your toilet's functionality.
Loosen the Clog with Soap
Clogged toilets are often caused by forcing too much toilet paper into the trap, which is the S-shaped passageway that leads to the sewer line. As the toilet flushes, the paper compacts together and wedges itself tightly into the trap. This solid clump of paper will not always budge on its own, and as a result, becomes an impassable plug.
One option for dislodging this clump of toilet paper is to lubricate the passageway. A lubricant causes the paper to loses its "grip" on the sides of the porcelain passageway and passes on through into the sewer line.
Of course, you never should use petroleum-based lubricants in your toilet due to the potential for harm to sewer lines and the environment. Instead, pour about one-half cup of liquid dishwashing soap into the lowest part of the bowl and allow it to remain undisturbed for several minutes.
If all works well, the soap will work its way down into the paper, around its sides and create a slippery environment inside the trap. This will cause the clog to dislodge and allow you to flush the toilet again.
Plunge the Clog
Another time-honored means of removing a clog is to plunge the toilet. Plungers are humble tools but are still deadly to clogs if used properly. Unfortunately, many homeowners don't really know how to plunge a clogged toilet and end up making the problem worse or wear themselves out in the process.
First, be sure to use the right type of plunger for the task. Some plungers are designed for sinks, and they are unlikely to be effective in a toilet. Toilet plungers contain a flange that extends beneath the plunger bell, and they are also often colored black to signify their intended use.
Next, plungers must form a seal against the entrance to the trap. As such, push the end of the plunger into the trap with few or no gaps permitted between the bowl and plunger. You can also add water to the bowl if it is dry, as this will help overcome potential air gaps that may exist.
Finally, the most effective means of using the plunger is to "jerk" clogs loose rather than attempting to push them into the sewer line. Plungers work best when they apply suction to the clog and break apart clumps.
In fact, plungers are more likely to compact an existing clog if too much downward force is applied. In addition, aggressive plunging may cause water to blow past the wax seal at the bottom of the toilet, which can create a new problem in the form of a leak.
To properly plunge a clogged toilet, seat the plunger flange in the trap opening and make short, but decisive, tugs of the plunger. You will be able to feel resistance in the form of suction if your efforts are applied correctly. Hopefully, the clog will eventually break free and allow the toilet to flush once more.
Obtain Professional Help
Unfortunately, not all clogs can be successfully resolved by homeowners. There are instances when the cause of a clogged toilet lies past the trap, such as tree roots in the line. In these circumstances, the best thing you can do is contact a plumber to evaluate the clog and provide professional assistance.
If you are located in the Antelope Valley, be sure to contact John Manning Plumbing for help with stubbornly-clogged toilets and all your other plumbing needs. Our friendly team is waiting to respond.