Clogged toilets can be a scary inconvenience, but in most cases, it’s an easy problem to fix. This process is less complex than replacing a toilet altogether or even fixing the components inside the tank. Clogs can happen suddenly when a user attempts to flush an object that’s too large, or they can build up over time and happen unexpectedly. Learn how to unclog a toilet with this quick tutorial.
Step 1: Shut off the water supply by turning the knob at the base of the tank where the plumbing connects to the wall. You should hear the water stop running; if you still hear it, tighten the knob. This will prevent the toilet from overflowing.
Step 2: Gently position the plunger at the base of the toilet bowl with the plunger centered over the opening. Press in gently to begin as the air in the plunger can cause the contents of the bowl to spray if you push in too vigorously.
Tip: Use a bell-shaped rubber plunger with an extension flange at the base. These may be a bit more expensive than the basic rubber domed shaped plungers, but they work better and are worth the cost.
Step 3: Maintain a constant position with the plunger to avoid breaking the seal over the toilet bowl opening. Press the plunger up and down quite vigorously for about 30 seconds.
Step 4: Check to see if the clog has cleared by taking the lid off the toilet tank and lifting the flapper valve. The water should flow down from the bowl into the pipes easily. If it does not, your toilet is still clogged. DO NOT FLUSH until you are certain the clog has cleared. Use the flapper valve until then.
Tip: If repeated plunging forces all the water out of the bowl and your toilet tank is empty, open up the water supply valve long enough to let the tank refill, then close it again. It’s important to keep water in the bowl to maintain pressure and indicate whether the clog has cleared.
Step 5: Continue plunging and testing (alternating between steps 3 and 4) until the clog is clear. You’ll know the clog is clear either when the blocked material in the bowl drains easily and rapidly. A slow-emptying bowl indicates that some blockage is likely still intact.
Step 6: Your toilet bowl should be empty when the clog is clear. You can turn the water supply back on and push the handle to refill the bowl, then flush again to test. Turn off the water supply to the tank after this test flush just in case the blockage hasn’t actually cleared. This will help prevent overflowing. If flushing does not proceed as normal, your toilet is still blocked.
Step 7: When plunging doesn’t work, you may need to use a plumbing snake or toilet auger to get the job done. You can also call a qualified local emergency plumbing company to diagnose the issue and fix your clogged toilet.
Leo is the owner of Northridge-based plumbing company Rooters On-Time of Northridge. On his free time, he enjoys writing how-to articles and tutorials to help others.