Flushing Out the Issue: Tips and Strategies How to Unblock a Badly Blocked Toilet

A clogged toilet can be an uncomfortable and frustrating experience, one in which you want resolved quickly.

Naturally, you may want to do your best to solve the problem on your own before calling out the experts. If the blockage is superficial enough, there are instances where you can resolve the issue on your own, but in most cases, a blocked toilet needs to be resolved by a professional plumber.

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What causes a blocked toilet?

A blocked toilet occurs when something gets stuck within the toilet drain, stopping water and waste from flushing down. There are a few common causes for this occurring, including flushing non-flushable items such as wipes, feminine hygiene products, or paper towels, as well as excessive toilet paper or foreign objects (parents will be familiar with this one) such as toys or jewellery. If you are experiencing a blocked toilet, it should be fixed promptly to avoid potential health hazards, unpleasant odours, and water damage.

Can you DIY a blocked toilet?

If you have a minor blockage (i.e. you can see the source of the blockage), you can often resolve the issue yourself. You will need a few tools in order to get started on unblocking your toilet;

  • A plunger
  • Rubber gloves
  • Dish soap
  • Hot water
  • Optional: Drain snake or a wire coat hanger

Method

  • Put on rubber gloves to avoid getting your hands dirty.
  • Check the water level in the toilet bowl. It shouldn’t be more than half-full, if it is, get a bucket to remove some of the water from the bowl.
  • Add a couple of drops of dish soap to the toilet bowl. Dish soap is very helpful in this process as it helps to break down the blockage and lubricate the drain.
  • Next, you will need to heat up some water until it’s hot but not boiling (boiling water can melt your pipes). Pour the hot water into the toilet bowl from approximately waist height. The height helps with the force, which can help dislodge the blockage.
  • Next, use a plunger to create a good seal around the toilet drain. Pump the plunger up and down vigorously, making sure the seal stays in place until the blockage clears. If necessary, add more water to the bowl and repeat the process until the blockages are removed.
  • If the trusty plunger doesn’t work, your best bet will be to try using a drain snake or a wire coat hanger to hook and pull out the blockage. Insert the snake or the hanger into the toilet drain and rotate or push it gently until you make contact with the blockage. Then, simply pull it out and discard it.
  • Finally, flush the toilet a couple of times to make sure the blockage is completely cleared. You may hear a loud noise as the blockage clears and flushes down. If the water drains normally and returns to the normal level, you have successfully unblocked your toilet.
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Blocked toilets - when it is time to call in the professionals

If, after the steps provided, you are still unable to unclog your toilet, it’s time to call in the experts. If your toilet is badly blocked, especially if it’s a deep blockage caused by tree roots, you will need the expertise of a plumber. These are the signs it’s time to call in a professional plumber;

  • If you notice water backing up or overflowing from the toilet bowl or around the base of the toilet, it could indicate a serious blockage that requires professional attention.
  • If you have multiple toilets in your home that are experiencing similar blockage issues, it may indicate a main sewer line blockage, which requires professional expertise to diagnose and fix.
  • If you have recently used harsh chemicals or other DIY methods to unclog the toilet and the problem has not been resolved, it’s best to call a professional plumber to avoid potential damage to your plumbing system.
  • If you suspect that the blockage is caused by an object that has been flushed down the toilet, such as a toy or excessive toilet paper, a professional plumber can use specialised tools to safely remove the object without causing further damage.
  • If you are not experienced or comfortable working with plumbing systems, it’s best to call a professional plumber to avoid causing further damage or creating a bigger problem.
  • If you have an older or delicate plumbing system, or if you live in an older home with outdated plumbing, it’s recommended to call a professional plumber to handle the blockage, as they have the expertise to handle such situations safely and effectively.

How to prevent future toilet blockages

Here are a few things you can do to avoid future toilet blockages;

  • Do not flush non-flushable items such as wipes, feminine hygiene products, or paper towels. Only flush human waste and toilet paper.
  • Go easy on the toilet paper and fold it neatly instead of wadding it up.
  • Make sure you keep up with regular toilet maintenance, such as cleaning the bowl and checking the flush.
  • Consider using a toilet snake or a plunger on a somewhat regular basis to prevent blockages from building up and causing a bad blockage in the future.

Blocked toilet FAQs

Can a blocked toilet unblock itself?

In rare cases, a blocked toilet may unblock itself without intervention, but it’s not common. When a toilet is blocked, it means that there is an obstruction in the drain pipe that prevents water and waste from flowing freely. This can be caused by various reasons such as toilet paper buildup, foreign objects, or other debris.

Sometimes, if the obstruction is minor and the water level in the toilet bowl is high, it may gradually dissolve or break down over time, allowing the water to flow and unblocking the toilet. However, this is not a reliable or guaranteed process, and it may take a significant amount of time for the obstruction to dissolve or dislodge on its own, if at all.

In most cases, a blocked toilet requires some form of professional intervention to efficiently and promptly clear the blockage.

Can hair block a toilet?

Yes, hair can sometimes contribute to a blocked toilet, especially if you shave over the toilet or empty your hairbrush down the toilet. It’s best to avoid flushing hair down the toilet as this can lead to a potential blockage.

Can tree roots block a toilet?

While it’s uncommon, tree roots can potentially block a toilet or cause other plumbing issues. Tree roots are attracted to sources of moisture, and if there are cracks or gaps in the underground plumbing pipes near a toilet, tree roots may invade and grow inside the pipes in search of water. This is particularly true of older houses with clay pipes, as they tend to allow moisture to seep through.

Over time, as the roots grow, they can cause blockages by accumulating debris or by directly obstructing the flow of water and waste.

When tree roots invade plumbing pipes, it can be a serious issue that requires professional intervention and root clearing devices. The roots can continue to grow and cause further damage to the pipes, potentially leading to leaks, bursts, or even complete pipe collapse. Tree roots are strong and can exert significant pressure on pipes, leading to blockages or other plumbing problems.

If you suspect that tree roots may be causing a blockage in your toilet or other plumbing pipes, it’s important to contact a professional plumber to assess the situation and determine the appropriate course of action. This may involve clearing the roots, repairing or replacing damaged pipes, and addressing any other issues caused by the root intrusion. It’s essential to address tree root intrusion promptly to prevent further damage to your plumbing system.

Get in touch for professional toilet blockage plumbers now

Although minor blockages can be resolved with a bit of elbow grease and a plunger, most of the time you will need professional help. Always keep in mind preventative measures to avoid future blockages.

Engaging the services of a certified toilet repair plumber ensures that you have access to their expertise and specialised tools, which can be invaluable in diagnosing and resolving more complex issues such as a blocked sewer line, tree root blockages, or a malfunctioning toilet flapper valve.

If you need help with a stubborn toilet blockage and are located in Perth, get in touch with the experienced team of blockage plumbers at Proud Plumbing. We will have your toilet back to full functionality in no time.

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