Unclogging Toilet Tricks That Really Work

Uh, oh! You’ve got a clogged toilet, and it isn’t flushing right. What to do? These plumbing tricks will get you out of a jam.

Step 1: Remove the toilet tank lid and close the flapper.

The flapper is located in the tank; it’s the flap that stops water from flowing into the toilet bowl. You may have to unhook the chain attached to the flapper in order to keep it sealed closed (you will see that is attached by a chain to a floating ball that adjusts how open or closed the flapper is in relation to how much water is in the tank. If you do disconnect this chain, make sure you reattach/rehook it when you are ready to flush the toilet again.)

Step 2: Turn off the water supply.

If you are concerned about more water flowing into the toilet tank and into the bowl, find the water supply valve and turn off the water to the toilet. This handle is usually located close to the floor, behind the toilet. Just turn it to the right (righty, tighty; lefty loosey) so the water supply is cut off. This will allow you to control how much water you put into the toilet bowl as you figure out how to unclog the blocked toilet.

Step 3: Try plunging and flushing using hot water.

Give the plunger a try. Use hot water in limited amounts to try to flush after you think you have successfully unclogged the toilet. The hot water will melt through the fats in the clog, increasing your chance of breaking up the clog.

Step 4: Add dish detergent.

Again, the idea is to break up the clog. Add a few generous squirts of dish detergent (or hand soap, or shampoo, if you are stuck in a friend’s bathroom, trying to discretely unclog the toilet), wait a few minutes, and try flushing again by pouring hot water into the toilet bowl.

Step 5: Try a snake/auger.

If you feel comfortable taking the risk of possibly damaging pipes (go easy with this), pick up a snake/auger at your local hardware store. Be sure to use minimal tension as you extend the cable into the pipe.

Note: Your toilet and bathtub probably drain through the same pipe, so be careful not to further impact the drainage pipe, creating a problem with your bathtub drainage as well.

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