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How to unblock a toilet drain

Last Updated Oct 19, 2017 · Written by Rob Schneider


Can unblocking a toilet drain be a DIY project? It depends on the problem. In some cases, toilet drains can easily be unblocked. In other cases, the problem may be in a place where DIY unblocking is impossible. When that happens, you will have to call a plumber.

How to unblock a toilet drain

Unblocking a toilet drain can be messy work and toilets are not a germ-free environment. Some of the basic tools you will need will be long rubber gloves and a plunger designed for toilets. An ordinary plunger does not have a flange. A toilet plunger has a flange that fits into the toilet. The flange makes the plunger far more effective.

How to unblock a toilet drain

Put on the rubber gloves and reach into the toilet. The obstruction may be something as simple as a ball or child's toy that has been dropped into the toilet. You can remove the obstruction and your toilet will work again.

If the obstruction is not obvious and nearby, a plunger may be needed. You may also need to use a drain cleaner. Commercial drain cleaners can have toxic materials and be a danger to skin and eyes. Do not immediately use a plunger if you use chemical toilet drain cleaners. Use the recommended amount, close the lid of the toilet to keep toxic fumes from getting into the air and wait a suitable amount of time for the chemicals to do their work. If you do use a plunger, wear protective gloves and eye protection. Enzyme cleaners are also available and may be a safer option.

You can make your own cleaner by pouring one cup of baking soda and two cups of vinegar into the toilet bowl. The combination creates a solution that is very effective in dissolving clogs. Leave the mixture overnight and any organic clogs will dissolve. You may still need to use the plunger to loosen the clogs, but try this method and you may be amazed by the results.

Another way to unblock a toilet is to purchase a plumbing snake. They are available at most hardware stores and are not expensive. The snake has a handle that turns the snake head and helps unblock drains. The snake can extend further and works by breaking up an obstruction. If you don't want to purchase a snake, try using a coat hanger. Use pliers to make a hook and you may be able to pull an object that's causing the blockage to come out.

Another way to unblock a toilet is to borrow or buy a wet/dry vacuum. The vacuum will suck up some types of debris such as toilet paper or hygiene products that have accidentally been thrown in the toilet.

When you can't unblock a toilet drain

DIY unblocking of toilet drains is only possible when the obstruction is relatively close to the toilet bowl. Many other things may make the toilet impossible to unblock. If you've tried everything and the toilet is still blocked, it's time to call a plumber.

Can't unblock a toilet

The blockage may be an accumulation of materials further down the sewerage pipes. It may also be tree roots that have broken through pipes outside of the house. A plumber can use a camera on the end of a long snake to locate the problem. If it's not too far away, they have more powerful snakes with longer reach that can unblock the drain. If tree roots are the problem, the plumber may have to replace a section of pipe.

Try DIY methods first, but if that doesn't work, call a plumber. The problem is probably further down the pipes where DIY methods won't work. Don't try to do those types of jobs yourself. You could easily make the problem worse or end up calling a plumber to fix your mistakes.

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