When a toilet clogs there are a few things you can try to unclog the toilet, and a few things that people often try that you should never do. Most of the time a toilet can be unclogged with a few strokes of a plunger or, a quick trip of toilet auger through the trapway of the bowl. In a worst case scenario the toilet may have to be removed from the floor and worked from both ends but this is usually only if there is an object that was thrown or, accidentally dropped into the bowl as it flushed.
The things you should never do when trying to unclog a toilet are
- Never use drain cleaners in a clogged toilet. They will do nothing except make a toxic soup in your toilet that will be difficult to deal with if you have to empty the bowl to remove the toilet. Also it makes using a plunger very unsafe due to possible splashing.
- Never pour boiling water into the bowl. The heat difference can cause the toilet bowl to crack and break.
- Never use a snake feeding it into a toilet bowl. The snake will cause permanent scratches to in the bowl and the snake will not go very far even into the trapway of the bowl before it tangles into a knot and may get stuck. There are tools specially designed for toilets called toilet augers, which should be used. And they are designed not to scratch the bowl.
The best way for most homeowners to unclog a toilet in most cases is to use a toilet plunger. The toilet plunger I like best is made of black rubber and has an extension flap that can either be folded into the dome or, unfolded to extend downward aiding in providing a better seal between the toilet and the plunger. In most cases slowly pushing the plunger downward then drawing back sharply will dislodge the clog and clear the toilet. A method that I have found to work well is to use rapid short strokes of the plunger in and out, which rattles the clog loose. One technique that I do not like is one where the plunger is pushed hard. Many times this can pack the clog making it harder to unclog. If the line under the toilet is clogged the hard push can break the wax seal under the toilet and cause the toilet to leak.
Another tool that works very well at unclogging toilets is a toilet auger. The toilet auger is a special snake just for toilets that is operated by a handle and the snake is contained in a tube to guide it into the trapway of the toilet without scratching the bowl. There are augers sold usually for about $10 that are called economy augers, they have a cable that is about ¼” to 3/8” diameter and the tube is made out of plastic, don’t bother buy one they are too weakly constructed and won’t work. My preference for a toilet auger is a 3’ auger made by either General or Ridgid that has a drop head with a hook, which will cost about $40. The hook can often grab onto things that have been flushed into a toilet and pull them out. The auger is a tool that may require some finesse and a feel for it to do well. The more experience you get with an auger the better you will find you are at using it. If you are too aggressive it is possible to break the toilet, but generally the auger will get the clogs that a plunger can’t and the auger can pull things out that shouldn’t have been flushed.