Toilet blockages vary a great deal in stubbornness. Some just need a little time for the blockage to soften and will eventually unclog on their own. But others need a lot more help to clear. In this article we answer the basic question: “How do I unclog a toilet?” by outlining some tried and tested methods that solve the problem quickly and with minimum fuss.
The first thing to try is the water method for unclogging a toilet. Simply let the toilet bowl fill completely with water by gently pressing on the flush handle. Be careful not to let it overfill though. (If this is in danger of happening whip of the toilet lid and close the plastic flapper that releases water into the bowl or turn the water supply off at the entry pipe.) Once the toilet bowl is full you may find that the extra weight of water serves to place pressure on the blockage and may be enough to loosen it.
If that does not work, get hold of a toilet plunger, make a good seal around the drain of the toilet and pump backwards and forwards a few times. The plunger works by alternating a suction (or vacuum) effect with pressure. In combination these forces are highly effective at working the blockage loose. If at first you don’t succeed, try again.
If you can’t lay your hands on a plunger then try the hot water technique. Add a few cup-fulls of hot (but not boiling as this could damage the porcelain of the bowl) to the toilet. Then simply wait. In many cases the hot water does enough to loosen the blockage and it will flush away. You can also add a few squirts of dish washing detergent into the toilet to see if that helps. Detergent is a great lubricator and may also serve to break down some of the organic matter in the blockage.
Some people advocate sticking a rubber hose, or a straightened wire hanger into the toilet drain to try and dislodge the blockage. My view, if you’re going to be pocking around in the depths of your toilet, get a plumber. They’ll use a toilet snake or an augur which will be far more effective. A toilet augur is a J shaped tool with a handle on one end with a flexible hose leading to a spiral coil at the far end. This is placed into the toilet drain until it reaches the blockage at which point the handle is tuned driving the spiral into the clog to release it.