Few things cause as much panic as discovering that you have a blocked toilet. This is especially true if you have practically no knowledge of how to go about the problem. To make matters worse, many such emergencies occur at the worst of times, say in the middle of the night or when you are all alone at home. Thankfully however, there are a few simple things you can do to take care of the problem. If the obstruction is not all that serious, you might even be able to handle the blockage on your own without the help of a plumber. If not, then at least you can contain the situation until you can get some additional help. Here is what to do if you have a toilet plumbing emergency:
How to Unblock a Toilet
- Shut the main valve – The first thing you need to do to unblock your toilet is to shut the main valve, which is the source of water flowing to your toilet. In most houses, the main valve is found on the wall of the toilet. In some houses however, the main valve may be found behind walls or beneath the tiles. If this is the case for you, contact a plumber to change the position of the main valve before you find your toilet clogged. However, if your toilet does get clogged and you cannot find the main valve, then you can also close the toilet valve to prevent water from flowing from the bowl.
- Stop the flow inside the tank – If you cannot be able to shut off both the main valve and the toilet valve, your next option is to stop water flow from inside the tank. First, you will have to remove the lid of the tank. Then you should look for the flapper inside the tank. The flapper is the rubber disk that regulates water flow through the toilet tank. If this flapper is open, then close it manually. If you cannot be able to close this flapper, you will have to block water flow using the float ball. Lift this ball to completely shut off water supply to the tank. You might have to look for ways to keep this ball lifted to buy yourself time to unclog the toilet.
- Deal with the Obstruction – Once you have stopped water from flowing to the toilet bowl, it is time to deal with the offending obstruction. More often than not, this is usually a foreign object that simply can’t be flushed away. The first method through which you can get rid of the clog is by using a toilet plunger. Place the rubber cup of the plunger above the bowl of toilet and apply pressure repeatedly. Keep doing this until the object is dislodged from the toilet.
- Use an Auger – If the plunger proves to be of no use to you, you could try using an auger. It is also known as a plumbing snake. It works by snaking its way through the bends and curves of your toilet removing any clog that may be stuck there. It is a far more effective tool than the plunger, but one that you may probably lack in your house. Use the auger to break the clog into small pieces until it stops blocking your toilet. Keep trying until you can flush your toilet without any problems.
- Use a Wet/ Dry Vacuum – Another tool that might come in handy when dealing with a blocked toilet is the wet/ dry vacuum. It is not similar to the ordinary vacuum, and you may need to hire it if you don’t have it. Before you start vacuuming the obstruction from your toilet, you will have to drain the toilet bowl of all water. Then place the hose of the vacuum into the drain and create a seal using toilet. Turn on the vacuum and keep vacuuming until you get rid of the clog.
- Hot Water or Dry Cleaning Chemicals – Alternatively, you can use a bucketful of hot water to get rid of clogs, especially organic clogs. Pour the water from the waist level as opposed from just above the rim of the toilet. This added height will give the water more force to dislodge the obstruction. Leave the water for a considerable period of time to allow it to clear your drainage. As a last resort when all else fails, try using dry cleaning chemicals.
- Coat Wire Hanger – If you lack all the above equipment, you could still use the sharp end of your coat wire hanger. You will need to wrap the sharp end with some cloth to prevent it from destroying your toilet. The coat hanger works more or less like the auger, and can get rid of the clog if used persistently.
The next time you have a toilet plumbing emergency, try these methods first before you call your plumber. They could save you loads of money and time as well as prevent the emergency from becoming a crisis.