Toilets do not unclog themselves. They rely on the force of gravity and the design of the bowl and trap way to flush waste and toilet paper out of the bowl and into the drain line. However, if a clog does occur, there are a number of methods that can be used to clear it, such as using a plunger, a toilet auger, or a chemical drain cleaner. It's also good practice to prevent clogs by not flushing inappropriate items like baby wipes, sanitary napkins, or paper towels.
A clogged toilet can be a major inconvenience and a source of embarrassment. But, more importantly, it can lead to water damage and costly repairs.
To avoid these issues, it’s important to understand what causes toilet clogs and how to prevent them. In this article, we will cover the causes of toilet clogs, prevention methods, and different ways to clear a clogged toilet.
Causes of Toilet Clogs
Flushing of Inappropriate Items
The most common cause of toilet clogs is the flushing of inappropriate items such as baby wipes, sanitary napkins, and paper towels.
These items do not break down like toilet paper and can cause blockages in the pipes.
To prevent this from happening, it’s important to educate family members and guests about what should and should not be flushed.
Build-Up of Hard Water Minerals
Another common cause of toilet clogs is the build-up of hard water minerals in the pipes.
Hard water is water that contains high levels of minerals such as calcium and magnesium.
Over time, these minerals can form a scale on the inside of the pipes, which can reduce the flow of water and cause clogs.
Obstruction in the Trapway or Drainline
The trapway is the curved portion of the toilet that connects the bowl to the drainpipe.
An obstruction in the trapway or drainline can cause a clog by blocking the flow of water and waste.
These obstructions can be caused by foreign objects being flushed down the toilet, roots penetrating the pipes, or even a buildup of grease.
Improper Installation of the Toilet
Toilets that are not properly installed can cause clogs. A toilet that is not level can cause waste to flow into the bowl at an angle and become stuck in the trapway.
A toilet that is not properly connected to the drainpipe can cause waste to back up into the bowl.
Prevention of Toilet Clogs
Avoid Flushing Inappropriate Items
As mentioned earlier, the most common cause of toilet clogs is the flushing of inappropriate items.
To prevent this, it’s important to educate family members and guests about what should and should not be flushed.
A good rule of thumb is to only flush toilet paper and human waste.
Regular Cleaning and Maintenance
Regular cleaning and maintenance of the toilet can help prevent clogs.
This includes cleaning the bowl and trapway, as well as checking for leaks or other issues.
Use of a Toilet Cleaner
Using a toilet cleaner that is specifically designed to dissolve hard water minerals can help prevent clogs caused by mineral buildup.
Educating Family Members and Guests
Educating family members and guests about proper toilet usage can help prevent clogs.
This includes teaching them about what should and should not be flushed and how to properly use the toilet.
Clearing a Clogged Toilet
When a toilet clogs, it can be difficult to know what to do. There are several methods that can be used to clear a clogged toilet, including:
Use of a Plunger
The most common method for clearing a clogged toilet is to use a plunger.
A plunger creates suction that can break up and remove the obstruction in the trapway or drainline.
To use a plunger, place the cup of the plunger over the hole at the bottom of the toilet bowl and push and pull the plunger vigorously.
If the clog is not cleared after several attempts, it’s best to move on to the next method.
Use of a Toilet Auger
A toilet auger is a long, flexible cable with a handle on one end and a curved end on the other.
This tool is specifically designed to reach into the trapway and clear clogs.
To use a toilet auger, insert the curved end into the toilet bowl and push it through the trapway.
Once the auger reaches the obstruction, turn the handle to break up and remove the clog.
Use of a Chemical Drain Cleaner
Chemical drain cleaners can be used to break up clogs in the pipes. These products work by dissolving the obstruction.
However, it is important to be cautious when using chemical drain cleaners as they can be caustic and harmful to the pipes if used excessively. It’s also important to note that chemical drain cleaners will not be effective for all types of clogs.
Call a Plumber
If the clog is not cleared by using a plunger, toilet auger, or chemical drain cleaner, it’s best to call a plumber.
A plumber will have the tools and knowledge to locate and remove the clog.
Toilet clogs can be a major inconvenience and can cause damage to the plumbing system.
By understanding the causes of clogs and taking preventative measures, homeowners can avoid costly repairs and maintain a functional toilet.
It’s important to avoid flushing inappropriate items, regularly cleaning and maintain the toilet, use of a toilet cleaner, and educate family members and guests on proper usage of the toilet.
In case of a clogged toilet, one can use a plunger, toilet auger, or a chemical drain cleaner, but if the clog is not cleared, it’s best to call a plumber.
Can a clogged toilet cause water damage?
Yes, a clogged toilet can cause water damage. If a clog is not cleared, water can overflow from the bowl and cause damage to the flooring and surrounding areas.
It can also cause damage to the pipes and the septic system if left unattended for a long period of time.
How often should I clean my toilet?
It is recommended to clean your toilet at least once a week.
This includes scrubbing the bowl, the rim, and the base of the toilet with a toilet cleaner, and cleaning the exterior of the toilet with a disinfectant.
It’s also important to check for leaks or other issues that could cause clogs or damage.
Can I use a plunger on a clogged toilet with a low water level?
A plunger works by creating suction that can break up and remove obstructions in the trapway or drainline.
If the water level in the toilet bowl is too low, the plunger may not create enough suction to clear the clog.
In this case, you can try to add more water to the bowl before attempting to use the plunger.
How do I know if my toilet is properly installed?
A properly installed toilet should be level and securely attached to the floor.
The waste pipe should be properly connected to the drainpipe, and the water supply line should be securely attached to the base of the toilet.
If you have any doubts about the installation of your toilet, it’s best to call a plumber to check it out.
Can I use Drain Cleaner on a clogged toilet?
Chemical drain cleaners can be used to break up clogs in the pipes. However, it is important to be cautious when using chemical drain cleaners as they can be caustic and harmful to the pipes if used excessively.
It’s also important to note that chemical drain cleaners will not be effective for all types of clogs. If the clog is not cleared after using a drain cleaner, it’s best to call a plumber.