Many of us own a plunger, and know how to use it if need be. However, what many don't know is that while using a plunger or other method to unclog your toilet, there are certain things you need to be aware of. Knowing how to properly unclog your toilet will save you from creating a larger problem in your toilet.
Methods of Unclogging
While using a plunger is the most common way to unclog a toilet, there are other methods of clearing up the pipe as well. If you do choose to use a plunger, however, make sure you are using it properly.
Before going in with the plunger, you should open the lid of the toilet tank and close the flapper. This will prevent more water from entering the bowl. If there is a small object that is causing the clog and you can see it, but you cannot reach it with your hand, plunging may not be the best method. If there is an object that you cannot reach or see causing the clog, use a plunger.
Run the plunger under hot water before using it to soften it up. This will help create a better seal. Insert the plunger into the bowl, making sure that the plunger completely covers the whole. Be sure that the plunger is submerged in water to be effective. You want to be pushing and pulling with water, not air. If there is not enough water in the bowl, add water from the sink.
Pump the plunger over the whole. Start slowly, as the first plunge will push air into the bowl. Continue doing this until the water begins to drain. It may take 15-20 times before the toilet unclogs. Be patient, as long as there is no hard object, plunging usually does the trick.
When you feel as though you are done, flush the toilet to make sure the problem is resolved.
Baking Soda & Vinegar
If the toilet won't flush and there is no plunger handy, you can turn to house hold cleaners. Baking soda and vinegar are well known for cleaning many different surfaces, as well as for keeping drains running smoothly.
Simply add one cup of baking soda to your clogged toilet. Allow the baking soda to sit for a couple of minutes. Then, slowly pour two cups of vinegar into the toilet. The reaction between the baking soda and vinegar should cause bubbles, so be sure to pour in the vinegar slowly and carefully. If you do not, the toilet may splash or overflow. When all the vinegar is in, allow the mixture to work for several minutes. Then, flush the toilet to see if the clog has cleared.
A plumbing snake is a handy tool for any homeowner to have. It is important to note that plumbing snakes and regular snakes are different. Be sure that you are using a special toilet or closet snake, also known as an auger. If you do not, you risk scratching or damaging a porcelain toilet. A toilet auger has a rubber coating to protect the toilet's porcelain.
To use the auger, place the head in the toilet bowl. Begin to slowly turn the handle clockwise. When you feel resistance, wind the snake back. You can then flush the toilet if the clog has loosened. If not, wind the snake back in. You may have to repeat this a couple of times before the clog is broken up and toilet flushes easily.
Dish Soap and Hot Water
Even if you don't have a plunger, baking soda, or a toilet snake, chances are you have hot water and dish soap.
To use this method, put one gallon of hot water on the stove to heat up. While you are waiting for the water to heat up, put some dish soap in the toilet. Monitor the water, and take it off the stove when it is very hot, but not boiling. Pour this water into the toilet carefully. Allow a couple minutes for the dish soap to soften the clog.
After a few minutes, try flushing the toilet again to see if you successfully cleared up the clog. If you need to clear the toilet without leaving the toilet, shampoo often times works as well instead of dish soap.