21st Nov 2022 -

Having a blocked toilet is not a nice experience. But unblocking a toilet is probably worse. You could, of course, call out a plumber to do the dirty work for you but why spend money on something you can easily do yourself? Below you will find a list of various tactics you can employ to unblock that blocked drain.

How to prepare

Before you start unblocking a toilet, you need to stop it from overflowing. This is achieved by taking the lid off the toilet tank and closing the toilet flapper. The flapper usually looks like a circular drain plug attached to a chain. Once you know you will not get flooded with water, cover the bathroom floor with newspapers or similar to mop up any spillage.

The paper makes it easier to clean up after you are done. You might want to put on rubber gloves to protect yourself from germs and probably wear some old clothing you would not mind getting dirty. After these preparations, you should be ready to unblock the toilet. Below is a list of several approaches you can try. We suggest you start from the top of the list – you might only need to use approaches one and two. 

1. Use your hands

Before you start doing anything else, look down the toilet bowl to see if you can detect any obstruction. You can also have a feel with your gloved hands. If you can move the object causing the blockage with your hands, please do so. If you know there is an obstruction there but cannot quite reach it, skip plunging and go straight to using a wire coat hanger or a plumbing snake.

2. Use a plunger

A rubber plunger is usually the quickest way to unblock a toilet. Buy the best plunger you can afford as the higher quality plunger tends to form a tighter seal and thus performs better. Before using the plunger, run it under hot water to soften up the rubber. Then insert the plunger into the toilet bowl making sure the suction cup covers the entire hole. You then start to slowly push and pull the submerged plunger to create a vacuum which hopefully will disturb and loosen up the clogged area.

Keep pushing and pulling with more and more speed until you see the water in the bowl begin to drain. Flush the toilet to check the drainage and repeat the process if the toilet still appears clogged up. Stubborn blockages might require several rounds of plunging to completely clear.

3. Use a wire coat hanger

If you do not have a plunger or you know there is a specific obstruction causing the toilet to block but you’re unable to reach it with your gloved hands you could try using a metal coat hanger. Take the hanger and bend it out into a straight line, taping a rag to the end you want to insert into the toilet bowl. You then insert the coat hanger down into the drain and manoeuvre it around to clear the blockage.

Once you feel the obstruction, push against it and keep this going until the water in the bowl flows freely. If you use this method but cannot feel any obstruction, the blockage is probably further down the drain and you have to use another method such as a homemade drain cleaner or a plumbing snake.

4. Use a plumbing snake

A plumbing snake is a more professional type of tool you would have to purchase specifically. It is a wire designed to ‘snake’ through the drainage system. If you have the use of a plumbing snake, insert one end into the toilet bowl and down the drain. Keep pushing and feeding the wire down until you feel the obstruction.

Then, keep pushing and twisting until the blockage is broken up into smaller pieces and the water in the bowl starts running freely. Once it does, flush the toilet to see whether it drains as normal or whether you have to repeat the process.

5. Use a wet/dry vacuum cleaner

If neither of the methods above works, you could try using a vacuum cleaner, which can cope with water. Do not use a regular vacuum cleaner as this might get damaged. You can either borrow or hire a dry/wet vacuum if you do not already own one. Insert the nozzle of the vacuum into the toilet bowl and suck out the water before you attempt sucking out the actual obstruction.

After the bowl is emptied of water, insert the end of the vacuum cleaner into the toilet bowl and push it a few inches down the hole. Then wrap a rag around the hole to create a seal before turning on the vacuum. Hopefully, the vacuum will suck out whatever is blocking the toilet.

6. Use a homemade drain cleaner

If you do not have a plunger, you can use a drain cleaner to try unblocking a toilet. And you do not have to spend lots of money on a commercially made drain cleaner to clean out toilet blockages. A combination of hot water, baking soda and vinegar usually manages to unblock clogs caused by too much waste. Boil two litres of water and let it cool down while you pour one cup of baking soda and two cups of vinegar down into the bowl.

This will create a chemical reaction, which will fizz a lot and hopefully help loosen the clog. Then pour the hot water in and let the mixture work overnight. Flush the toilet in the morning. If the toilet is still blocked try using a wire or a plumbing snake. If you do not have baking soda or vinegar at hand you can try removing the blockage using hot water and shampoo or washing up liquid.

Squirt a generous amount of shampoo into the toilet bowl before adding hot water making sure not to overfill the toilet. Then let the solution work overnight and hopefully, you will wake up to an unblocked toilet. Flush to make sure the water runs freely.

7. Use a commercially produced product

If all this fails and you still do not want to call a plumber, you can try using a commercial drainage product such as an enzyme removal solution. Look for something specifically created to liquefy materials. An enzyme product is kinder to your drains than a drain-cleaning chemical and it is also kinder to the environment. A product like this obviously will not work on a hard obstruction like a toy.

Chemical drain cleaner is the last resort but is available in most grocery and hardware stores. The chemicals used are toxic so follow the instructions on the container carefully. But if you suspect there is an actual object causing the blockage and all the above methods have yielded no result, you probably need to call a plumber.

Essential toilet unblocking products one click away

Building Materials Nationwide supplies an array of unblocking products, from plungers to enzyme removal solutions and toilet augers. Across our website, we have made shopping for building materials and tools simple and enjoyable. Our comprehensive selection of products, delivered across the UK and competitively priced, will allow you to feel confident in completing your construction project.

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