How to plunge your toilet bowl

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Try these steps before calling in your plumber!

Everyone dreads it when their toilet is stuck because unclogging the toilet is nasty business. But rectifying a stuck toilet is not always difficult because sometimes it could be as simple as retrieving a kid's toy perhaps. Still, not everyone fancies the idea of having to stick their hand down the toilet bowl to find out.

However, if you are in a pinch, and need to rectify the toilet problem on your own, here is a step-by-step walkthrough on unclogging the toilet.

 

Unclogging the toilet: a step-by-step guide

1. Stop the toilet from overflowing

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First, you need to stop the water from flowing into the toilet bowl if it is indeed well and truly stuck. You can do this by closing the flapper which looks like a circular drain stopped which is inside the water tank. Alternatively, you can also turn off the water source.

2. Lay some newspapers in case it gets messy

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With the toilets mostly tiled, this step is optional, but it does make for an easier clean up in case unclogging the toilet starts to get really messy.

3. Put on some rubber gloves

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Unclogging the toilet can get quite unsanitary especially when checking for any obstruction. But a pair of long rubber gloves, almost an arm's length will ensure that you are protected. Also be mindful to put on some old clothes when unclogging the toilet. That way if they get soiled in the process, you can just bag them up and throw it away.

4. Check for any obstruction

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Contrary to common thinking, sometimes it is the most unlikely things that clog up the toilet. It could be something hard like a child's toy for instance and can be easily removed by hand to rectify the problem.

5. Use a plunger

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The plunger comes in when the clogged matter cannot be removed by hand. Make sure you have a good quality plunger on hand to do the job. You can also soak your plunger in hot water before using it to make the rubber more pliable resulting in a tighter seal. Make sure that your plunger is covering the entire hole before you start plunging.

Start by plunging slowly first. Push down and pull up in sharp, quick motions to dislodge the clog. Do this about 15-20 times before checking if the toilet has indeed unclogged. But be patient and repeat if necessary. If you are certain there are no hard objects, plunging and flushing should do the job.

6. Flush

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After plunging several rounds, flush to see if your toilet has cleared.

7. Make your own drain cleaner solution

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If unclogging the toilet with the plunger isn't working, try making this all-natural drain cleaner solution. A combination of hot water, baking soda and vinegar can achieve the same results as most store-bought drain cleaners. Boil about 2 litres of water. You need a substantial amount of boiling water for this to work.

When the hot water is ready, pour 1 cup baking soda followed by 2 cups of vinegar into the hole. The fizzing should dissolve most soft matter that is clogging the toilet. If you have another functioning toilet, you can also leave this mixture to sit overnight before flushing everything down with hot water the next morning.

8. Pour hot water

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When pouring the hot water into the toilet, do this from waist level to enable the force of the water to hopefully dislodge the clog. Just be extra careful not to burn yourself.

The baking soda, vinegar and hot water method only work if you are trying to unclog soft matter. If there are any hard obstruction further down the pipe that is still stuck, you will find that this method will not work.

9. Use a cable auger or a plumbing snake

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This leads us to the next method, which is using a cable auger or a plumbing snake. The cable is the same tool to use when you need to unclog a sink. It is a great tool to have because it is flexible and long enough to reach further up the winding pipes inside the toilet bowl where your hand cannot reach. Just insert the end of the cable into the toilet hole and continue feeding the snake until it reaches the obstruction. Continue to twist and push through the obstruction with the hope to either dislodge it or break it into smaller pieces so that it can be flushed down.

However, if after exhausting all these steps and you are still unable to unclog the toilet, perhaps there must be something very hard and truly stuck in your toilet. If this is the case, you may need to call in the plumber to have the problem fixed.

All is good. At least you put in the effort to make it better by fixing it yourself first. So shrug off those long gloves, wash your hands and give yourself a good pat on the back. You did well. Now sit back, relax and let the experts take over.