Every person has had an experience trying to keep their toilet from overflowing after burrito night or something similar. It happens to the best of us. Even high-tech toilets get backed up while blasting tunes from their Bluetooth speakers. Fixing a blocked toilet is a rough job no one wants to have. Unfortunately, it is a duty that must be performed from time to time. The real issue is knowing when a plunger just won’t be enough to get the job done, and when it’s time to call in the professional plumber.
Beating the Blockage Yourself
Determining what’s causing the clog means having to look in the toilet; sorry, but it’s necessary. Make sure you have gloves just in case you can manually remove the blockage. Anything can be stuck down there, from toilet paper to your son’s action figure! If the toilet is still unflushable, the clog is going to be further down the drain. In this case, a plunger and elbow grease will come in handy.
Here are some plunging tips to try on your own:
- Be gentle with the first plunge. The bell is full of air at the beginning and a hard plunge is going to shove the air, and all that toilet water, out of the bowl!
- After pushing out the initial air pocket, plunge vigorously anywhere from 15-25 times. The motion pushes the water back and forth which will move most blockages.
- Alternate between steady strokes and occasional monster heaves.
- Make sure the toilet plunger stays covered with water, or else you won’t create enough pressure to move the clog.
A toilet snake may also do the job if it’s a mild blockage in the pipes. A long wire coil, the drain snake works by being turned clockwise through the pipe until it screws into the blockage so that you can pull it out or push it into the main pipe.
4 Reasons to Call a Professional Plumber
If the obstruction could still not be removed, it might be an indication that some professional help is required. There are several times when calling a plumber is better and safer than trying a DIY job.
The Plunger Wouldn’t Work
For a simple case of too much toilet paper, a plunger is normally the only tool you need to get the water flowing again. Sometimes though, the toilet is just plain stubborn and needs a little more coaxing. Using a snake or the old baking soda and vinegar trick are other options to try, but you’ll probably find it to be more of a hassle than anything else. If done incorrectly, a plunger can break the wax ring at the base of the toilet, leading to flooding and water damage. It is also recommended that you never use chemical products, like Drano, to unclog the drain. These items may be sold in stores, but pouring chemicals down your drains can cause corrosion and lead to leaks.
The Toilet is Running
It just trickles and swirls, but you probably don’t want a constant whirlpool in your bathroom. Not only is a running toilet costly, you will more than likely find yourself messing with it every time you use it just to get it to stop. This issue could be a sign that the water flap, which controls the flow of water from the tank to bowl, no longer fits as it should. There may be another reason, but calling a professional plumber will be the only way to receive a proper diagnosis.
Foreign Objects Were Flushed
Remember your son’s action figure? Well, it may have gotten stuck farther down than you think, traveling as far as the drain line underneath the toilet. At this point, only Mr. Fantastic could reach in far enough and pull that toy out. Should a foreign object pass beyond the toilet, it could damage the sewer septic lines.
You Can Smell the Problem
A funky smell is an indication of a bigger problem. Hidden leaks often result from overly strained or clogged toilets, and can cause a multitude of issues. The smell wafting through your home is bad enough, but a hidden leak that’s left unchecked will quickly raise your water bill. In addition, there could be severe damage behind your walls or under the floor, which may result in mold—that’s never good for your respiratory system. There is not much you can fix on your own at this point, so a professional plumber is recommended.
There will be times when you need to address minor household problems. Proper research and knowledge make DIY projects more than doable, which can save you plenty of time and money, but remember to use your best judgment for any serious situations. It’s not necessary to be the hero all the time. Be honest with yourself about when professional help is needed. You should never have to negotiate the safety of yourself, your home, or others for a speedy do-it-yourself attempt. Our plumbing professionals won’t shy away from a blocked toilet, no matter what’s in the pipes. Contact us for more information about our wide range of toilet repair and replacement services for your residential, commercial, and municipal plumbing needs.