As we wait for the plumbers and excavators to dig a hole in the street to replace our old collapsing sewer pipe (costing us $8000 - Eeek!) our co-worker Ann Sheehan will keep us all entertained with the magic of toilet unplugging...
Thanks for reading! by Julie Baka
The Clog Blog
A clogged toilet. The office party is at your house. Your daughter's twelve best friends are spending the night. And then there's the ultimate - you are hosting Thanksgiving Dinner for thirty family members. It never fails; the toilet always seems to get clogged at the most inopportune time! You can call a plumber, but that can cost quite a bit of money and can take quite a bit of time. There are several things you can try on your own before calling in a professional.
Before you get started, get prepared. Shoo away all kids and pets and turn off the cell phone. Don grubby clothes and shoes and put on long disposable rubber gloves. Surround the entire floor around the commode with old towels and have a pile of extra rags nearby just to be on the safe side. Lift the toilet lids because you are ready to begin...
First, simply check to see if there is any obvious obstruction such as a child's toy or huge wad of toilet paper causing the clog. If this is the case, simply remove the obstruction and flush the stool a few times and be glad that was all there was to it.
If there is nothing you can actually see, then the next step is to fill a bucket with HOT tap water and add a few squirts of Dawn dishwashing soap. (Do not use boiling water, as it might crack the porcelain.) Stand in front of the toilet and from about waist high slowly pour the liquid into the bowl. Wait a few minutes and flush. The combination of the hot water, the dish soap, and gravity will often cause the clog to move on. You can try this a few times, but make sure to bail excess water out of the bowl so it will not overflow.
If this method is not going to do the trick, next it is time to get out the plunger. Most households own one of these grimy tools and keep it hidden out of sight. But it is a great thing to have when the need arises.
A flanged plunger works the best for the toilet since it will form a better seal around the narrow opening and therefore create a better vacuum. The idea is to force air and water back and forth through the narrow pipes of the toilet causing the clog to break up. You may have to plunge several times, but this method is often very successful. It will be quite obvious once the clog has dislodged.
Of course there are times when using a plunger just makes the stoppage worse. So your next course of action is to use a plumber's auger, which is also referred to as a plumber's snake. Your neighborhood handyman or hardware store will have one of these that you can borrow or rent if you don't own one yourself.
Put the end of the snake into the toilet and slowly begin to crank the handle. Continue to do this until the auger no longer moves with ease, meaning you have reached the blockage. Carefully turn the handle back and forth until the auger once again moves freely. The goal is to break up the clog, causing part of it to continue down the pipe and the rest of the clog to come back to you when you unwind the snake.
If none of these methods work, then it is time to call in a plumber. But at least you know you gave it your best shot!