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July 6, 2010
A clogged toilet can happen to the best of us. When faced with this situation, there are several tricks you can try to unclog the toilet.
Before you get started, it is helpful to understand how the toilet works. In it’s simplest form, when you flush, the water in the tank is drained into the bowl. As water rushes into the bowl, the water level in the bowl begins to rise. The wastewater is then siphoned down the siphon tube and the toilet flushes. After the waste has been sucked from the bowl, the tank begins to refill for the next use.
If you flush the toilet and this simple process doesn’t work, odds are good you have a clog. When you notice your toilet is stopped up, before you try anything, the most important step to remember is to never flush the toilet more than once. Doing so will typically result in an overflow and make the unclogging process more difficult than it needs to be. If you have managed to keep your toilet from overflowing, the following steps can help unclog the bowl.
Pour Water Into the Bowl
Sometimes, to loosen a clog or flush when the water level is low, pouring a gallon of hot water down the toilet can alleviate the problem. Holding the water at about waist height, carefully but forcefully, pour the contents directly into the toilet bowl. When you do this, you are imitating the same events as when you normally flush. The rush of water causes the water level to rise and initiates the siphon so the clog can be sucked down the sewer drain.
Use a Plunger
While there are several types of plungers available at your local hardware store, the type with a funnel cup at the bottom is best. This type is specifically designed for the toilet because it helps to create a better seal. Sometimes they can be rather stiff which makes a tight seal more difficult. To fix this, run the plunger under hot water for a few minutes; that is usually enough to soften the rubber.
When plunging the toilet, be careful to make your first plunge slowly. Plunging too fast can cause water from the toilet bowl to shoot out and around your bathroom. It is also important that as you plunge, the focus be on the pulling, not pushing. The goal is to loosen the obstruction so the toilet can drain.
Use an Auger
For extra stubborn clogs, augers can do what a plunger can’t. Sometimes called a snake, augers help clear blockages by targeting the hard to reach areas of your toilet. They work by either hooking the clog so it can be pulled out, or help by pushing it through the pipe and down the drain. Sometimes people will suggest a coat hanger as a replacement for an auger. This is never a good idea because you risk causing more damage than good with this technique. Additionally, augers come in electric models, but should only be operated by a professional plumber.
Avoid Using Harsh Chemical Products
Over-the-counter remedies such as Drano® and Liquid Plumr® are harsh chemical products that can sometimes clear a clog quickly, however they can cause damage to fixtures and pipes that may not be immediately apparent, yet could have sustaining negative impacts such as leaks and pipe corrosion and result in future pipe and property damage.
A Better Solution – Use Natural Enzymes
Rather than using harsh chemical compounds, try using a product that contains naturally occurring bacteria and enzymes, such as Bio-Clean®, that “digests” dead organic waste found in your plumbing system: grease, hair soap scum, food particles, paper and cotton. Since it is all-natural, it will not digest or have any effect on inorganic materials such as plastic pipe and is non-corrosive to copper and cast-iron pipes. It does not produce heat, fumes or boiling like chemicals do. These enzymes are used in septic systems to break down waste. Follow the instructions on the container. This is not a fast method and will only work on organic waste, but overnight it can clear a toilet or drain. Regular use with no clog present will help keep toilets and drains flowing smoothly. These products are available at retail shops, or from your local plumber.
Call a Plumber
Sometimes it is a simple clog, but other times it may be symptomatic of more serious problems such as roots growing into and through your drain lines, or a septic system that is full and needs to be pumped. In situations where your efforts have produced no results, or you suspect there is a more serious problem going on, you should call a licensed plumber. They are trained to diagnose and repair plumbing problems inside your home as well as diagnose factors that could be contributing to your clogged toilet or other plumbing related issues.
Any time you have questions about a clogged toilet, or other plumbing problems, contact your Lawton plumbers, Pippin Brothers today!