Why is unblocking a toilet always such a mess?
Most of us can say that we have had the unpleasant experience of a blocked toilet in our homes. If your toilet bowl is draining slowly or not at all or if heaven forbid the water level in your toilet level rises, your toilet is definitely blocked!
Blocked toilets can become the bain of your existence especially if left unattended. Apart from the unpleasant odours blocked toilets tend to generate, having guests over to the house can become an embarrassing experience especially if you hand them a list of “what to do” when the toilet water levels rise mid flush.
Before we get into the how to’s of unblocking a toilet, we first need to understand why toilets get blocked. Let’s get into it.
Why do toilets get blocked?
Toilets can get blocked for a number of reasons with the following few items being the most likely culprits:
- Toilet paper, A LOT of toilet paper!
- Discarded wet wipes shoved down the loo instead of thrown into the dustbin
- Children’s toys
- Excessive human waste
- Sanitary pads
- Blocked sewage lines
- Broken sewage pipes
- A large build of limescale more common in older toilets
If you notice that your toilet is blocked and you’re able to find the route of the problem then identifying a solution to the problem becomes a much easier endeavor.
Let’s get into what you’ll need to unblock a toilet
We’ve put together a list of equipment you’ll need to effectively and efficiently unblock your toilet. Remember though, that before carrying out any DIY, do your research and have your local plumbers contact details on hand should things go pear shaped.
Step 1. Collect your equipment
- A large plunger
- Rubber gloves (preferably disposable)
- Old towels or newspaper
- Disposable cup or bowl
- Wire coat hanger
- Dishwashing liquid
- Baking soda and vinegar
Step 2. Protect your bathroom and yourself
Gather old towels and newspaper and cover the floor surrounding the toilet to protect your bathroom surfaces from unhygienic splashes and spills. Don’t forget to protect yourself too! Grab some disposable gloves, a face mask, and some old clothes or at least an apron.
Step 3. Check that you have the correct plunger and prepare the toilet
Before you begin plunging, ensure that your plunger is big enough to cover the hole in the toilet to create sufficient suction. Remove as much water as you can using a disposable cup or bowl but leave enough water in the bowl of the toilet to cover the rubber part of the plunger. To make it easier for the plunger to seal and perform effectively, let the plunger stand in hot water for at least 5 minutes to make it flexible.
Step 4. Take the plunge!
Place the plunger into the toilet and push down slowly and firmly to create a seal around the hole, then pull up gently to create a vacuum. Start plunging the toilet slowly and gently to avoid pushing the blockage even further down. Gradually increase the speed and force at which you use the plunger. Add more water to the bowl if necessary to ensure that the plunger is covered at all times. You should expect to continue for 15 minutes. Be prepared to plunge continuously for 15 minutes.
If your plunging has been successful the water in the toilet will start to drain out as the blockage has either been dislodged or dissipated.
If your enthusiastic and persistent plunging has not dislodged the blockage, you may want to try a few other ways of unblocking your toilet before calling in Absolute Plumbing Cape Town. Here are a few tried and tested DIY methods of unblocking a toilet without a plunger.
Dishwashing liquid and warm water
This method will need you to remove as much water as possible from the toilet bowl using your disposable cup or bowl. Then pour half a mug of dishwashing liquid into the toilet, pouring it slowly around the bowl of the toilet to form a ‘ring’ of soap. Leave to soak for half an hour to dissolve the clog. Now pour a bucket of warm (but not boiling) water into the bowl of the toilet from a height (i.e. waist height) – the force and heat of the water will help to dislodge the blockage.
Leave for a further 10 minutes for the soap and warm water to work their magic and then flush. This will have hopefully dislodged the clog. It is a good sign if the water starts to drain from the toilet bowl, even if really slow. Repeat the above process a few more times to completely dislodge the blockage in your toilet.
A coat hanger or wire
If the blockage is not clearly visible, it is more than likely in the toilet pipes and will need to be manually removed. One of the easiest DIY ways to unblock a toilet is to use a wire coat hanger that has been untwisted or a piece of long, stiff wire.
Bend the coat hanger or wire into a wide curve and push it into the toilet. Move it around slowly and gently with a push-pull motion, ensuring that it doesn’t get stuck in the pipe or cause damage to the ceramic of the toilet. This movement should be enough to dislodge or break up the clog. Flush your toilet to check whether the blockage has broken up.
Tips From The Pros
If the aforementioned methods don’t quite seem to do the tick then go ahead and try this nifty little trick and see what happens. All you’ll need for this final tip is a Spaghetti Mop! You heard us, a Spaghetti Mop! Take your mop and insert it directly into the toilet until the water in the bowl of the toilet covers the mop. Turn the mop in a clockwise direction to create a suction and keep turning the mop whilst making the plunging motion. This motion and technique will unblock just about any toilet.
In conclusion, now that you have unblocked your toilet using a toilet plunger, dishwashing liquid, and warm water or with a piece of wire, you will want to make extra sure that there is nothing left clinging to the toilet pipes to encourage further build-up. An effective and septic tank/environmentally friendly way to do this is to remove as much of the water as you can from the bowl of the toilet again and put a mugful of bicarbonate of soda into the well of the toilet, followed by 2 mugfuls of vinegar. Let this effective mixture sit and bubble away for half an hour to dissolve any remaining material that may be clinging to the sides of the pipe.
However, if you have tried all these DIY methods to unblock your toilet and you still have a blockage, it’s DEFINITELY time to call in the professionals! Let Absolute Plumbing come in to unblock your toilets and clean your drains professionally to ensure that this doesn’t happen again anytime soon!
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