How to fix a clogged toilet


Are you struggling with a clogged toilet? If you’re trying to flush your toilet and nothing happens, or the bowl fills with water, don’t worry!

As inconvenient and annoying as it is, toilet emergencies are a fact of life, and most can be easily fixed. With a couple easy steps, your toilet will soon be functioning properly.

toilet, 3 ways to fix a clogged toilet at Mathews Plumbing

1. Unclog with Dish Soap

No plunger? No problem, use dish soap! This method is the easiest and least messy of all our solutions, but it will take about 30 minutes for the solution to work properly. If you are in a hurry, we recommend skipping ahead to next method.

  1. Wait about 10-15 minutes before trying to unclog the toilet, as some water might drain on its own.
  2. Squeeze a lot of liquid dish soap, about one cup, or pieces of bar soap into the toilet bowl.
  3. Fill a bucket with hot water and carefully pour hot water into the toilet bowl without overflowing it. The hot water will dissolve the dish soap and will act as a lubricating agent to un-wedge the clog.
  4. Wait another 15 minutes for the soap to dislodge the clog.
  5. The water level will go down after 15 minutes, so pour more hot water into the bowl to restart the lubrication process.
  6. After another 15 minutes of waiting, you can flush the toilet and the clog will be gone!

2. Unclog with a Plunger

Learn how to fix a Clogged Toilet with Mathew's Plumbing

If the dish soap doesn’t slide the clog out of the way, you’ll need a plunger. Plungers fit over the toilet drain and will force water down the drain and dislodge the debris clogging the drain.

Before you try plunging, make sure your first plunge is soft. The plunger is full of air and a hard push will release a massive air bubble in the clogged toilet bowl, causing a large amount of water to splash back at you.

  1. Wait 10-15 minutes, as some water might drain on its own.
  2. Place your plunger into the toilet bowl and rest the mouth of the plunger into the mouth of the toilet drain.
  3. Softly push the plunger into the mouth of the drain, and then give a few stronger pulses to heave the debris down the drain.
  4. Repeatedly plunge a few times until the drain is clear.
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3. Unclog with an Auger

If your toilet is still clogged after using a plunger, try using a toilet auger, or toilet snake to extend into the drain and unclog the problem. The claw of the snake will break up whatever’s clogging the drain, or will pull the material back up, out of the way.

  1. Place the claw of the auger in the toilet drain.
  2. Crank the handle until the auger feels tight, as it has dislodged the clogged debris.
  3. Wait until the water starts to recede.
  4. Slowly pull the auger back out.

If your toilet is still clogged, the clog might be a more advanced problem for a professional to help with.

A chronically clogged toilet is caused by drain failure and should be examined by a professional plumber. If your toilet has had chronic clogging, it should be examined by a professional, as the problem might be more serious or be caused by pipe damage.

Call Mathews Plumbing at 208-357-3439 for further help or to schedule an examination of your toilet drain.

Infographic showing 3 ways to unclog a toilet from mathews plumbing

Additional Tips

These above three methods are the most tried-and-true ways to unclog a stubborn apartment toilet. Some important things to remember are:

  1. If your toilet is clogged, don’t keep flushing it. Doing so will turn your nice tiled bathroom into a toilet-water kiddie pool.
  2. Protect yourself. Your toilet is a nasty place, so wear gloves and goggles before you go scrounging around in there.
  3. Don’t use excessive amounts of toilet paper, and never flush wipes. Even wipes that are supposedly “flushable” can be slow to biodegrade, increasing the chances of a clogged apartment toilet.
  4. Don’t be afraid to swallow your pride. The only thing more embarrassing than calling your landlord to fix a clogged toilet is calling your landlord to replace a broken toilet because you clogged it and then proceeded to destroy it.
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Go forth with this advice in mind. And if you repeatedly find yourself in need of toilet assistance, maybe it’s time to consider fiber supplements.



Using the Plunger

Not all plungers are created equal. Try to find one with a rubber overhang that extends past the bell of the plunger. This shape will help you get more power out of every thrust. Before you start huffing and puffing, wait for the water to go down as much as possible. If you just tried to flush the toilet to no avail, the water should start to recede after a couple of minutes.

To plunge out whatever’s clogging your toilet, push the plunger into the drain using a back and forth motion. As you start pushing and pulling, keep these plunging tips in mind:

  1. Start with a gentle push as the first wave of air can splatter toilet water all over your bathroom.
  2. Keep the plunger submerged in water as much as possible throughout the exercise.
  3. Use a combination of fast and firm strokes until the object has been dislodged.
  4. Always maintain the seal by keeping the edges of the plunger wrapped around the drain.

To find a good plunger that does the work try this resource: Best Toilet Plungers

When in Doubt, Use a Toilet Snake 

While using a regular plunger will get rid of most toilet clogs, some extreme situations might require a toilet snake, a long metal tool that reaches down into the drain.

Toilet snakes are usually less than $10, so you might as well keep one around the house. Right away, you’ll notice that one end of the toilet snake has a corkscrew-like feature. This is the end that travels down the drain. Feed this end of the snake into the toilet. After a few seconds, you should feel it rubbing up against the clogged object. 

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snake to unclog a toilet

Now, twist the other end of the snake that you still have in your hand. The corkscrew end will either break up the clogged item or attach itself to it, giving you the chance to pull it up and out of the drain. Just be careful when you’re removing the clogged item as you’re bound to see a splash of toilet water. 

How to Prevent Toilet Clogs 

Once the problem has been solved, you’re probably curious as to how you can prevent this in the future. While toilets are notoriously fickle creatures, you can limit the chances of something like this happening again if you take these precautions:

  1. The only item going into your toilet should be toilet paper. Refrain from using paper towel, tissues and other paper products.
  2. Keep the toilet lid closed, so you don’t accidentally drop something in the bowl. This is especially important if you have a small child that likes to toss their toys in the toilet.
  3. Do not dump thick compounds down the drain. Substances like spray foam, caulk, grease and wax will bring your drain to a standstill.

If you can’t unclog your toilet using the methods listed above, it’s time to call your local plumber. A professional will be able to get your home’s system up and running again in no time.

Of course, you can’t always wait for the plumber to come to you. That’s why Hernandez Plumbing offers emergency plumbing services to homeowners and business owners across South Florida. Whether it’s the middle of a busy workday or you’re having your relatives over for a long weekend, the team at Hernandez Plumbing will be there to fix the problem. Contact us today!

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