If there’s anything that can be classified as a true household emergency, it’s a clogged toilet, especially if you have a large family that shares one bathroom.
Everyone at one time or another has experienced the horror of flushing the toilet and watching the contents of the bowl, instead of flushing down the drain, swirl around in a murky vortex.
In this article, we look at the common reasons toilets become clogged and how to deal with it.
How Does a Toilet Work?
Before we dive into how a toilet clogs and how to deal with it, let’s look at how the modern toilet functions.
The toilet is made up of two main parts: the tank and the bowl. Both the tank and the bowl are filled with water while the tank contains some extra parts that are the nuts and bolts of how a toilet operates.
Within the tank are the float ball which is attached to a float rod, the inlet valve, the inlet tube, the piston and the siphon.
The float and float rod keep pressure against the inlet valve to keep it closed when the tank is full.
When you press the handle to flush the toilet, the piston gets pulled up which engages the siphon. Water is sucked through the siphon which empties into the bowl to help flush the waste and refill the bowl when it’s been flushed.
As the bowl empties, water fills the tank up again via the inlet tube. As water fills the tank, the float and float rod rise, and when the water gets to a predetermined level, the rod engages the valve to close it off to keep the tank from overflowing.
While there are other types of toilets available, such as chemical toilets which use chemicals to deal with the waste rather than water, most toilets found in American homes today operate as described above.
Common Causes of Toilet Clogs
Now we know how a toilet works, it’s time to talk about what causes those panic-inducing clogs. The following are the most common reasons your toilet won’t flush and why your toilet gets clogged.
- Low Water Supply Low flow toilets are great for the environment and for keeping your water bill low. However, sometimes these low flow toilets don’t provide enough water pressure to get the job done, and your toilet won’t flush properly as a result. Also, your water pressure may be low because of your municipality or because you have a clog in the line coming into your home.
- Clogged Drain Lines An obstructed drain line means water and waste can’t empty out of the bowl and be discharged into the sewer system. Drain lines become clogged because people flush non-flushable items down the toilet such as personal wipes, sanitary napkins, paper waste products, and children’s toys.
- Not Enough Water Your toilet tank holds the water to flush properly the toilet of waste, however, when you don’t have enough water in the tank, you don’t get a proper flush. While the tank doesn’t have to be completely full, it needs enough water to provide the pressure and fluid to dispose of the waste, and you can adjust the amount of water in the tank via the float valve adjustment.
- S Trap The S trap is a bend in the pipe the toilet uses to dispose of the waste, and the purpose of the bend is to prevent foul-smelling sewer gas from backing up into your bathroom. Sometimes, clogs develop in this pipe that prevent your toilet from flushing.
How To Unclog A Toilet Without A Plunger
Okay, so you have a clog in your toilet and you need to get rid of it quickly. The first thing most people do is reach for the plunger. But what happens if you don’t have one? How are you going to unclog the toilet?
Plumbers state that there are two ways you can try to get your toilet free flowing again without using a plunger. The first method is to fill a bucket with hot water. Next, pour liquid soap into your toilet bowl followed by the hot water. The idea is that the soap will find its way to the clog and provide it with enough lubrication to move it along. Do this process again and again until the clogged is removed then flush the toilet as normal to clear it completely.
The next de-clogging method without a plunger is by emptying the toilet bowl as best you can. You can do this by siphoning out the water or using a bucket to remove it. Next, get a plastic bottle, fill it with hot water, and squeeze the water deep down into the toilet drain. Try to use as much pressure as you can to blast away the clog. Repeat this process several times to see if you can dislodge the obstruction.
How To Plunge A Toilet
If the above method doesn’t remove your clog, you may have to enlist the help of the mighty plunger. If you don’t have a plunger, now is the time to invest in one; they’re inexpensive and handy to have to deal with stubborn clogs in any drain.
Get a plunger that has a flanged head because they are better designed to work in toilets than standard plungers. Take the plunger and put the flange firmly against the drain hole. Push it in as hard as you can to get a good seal between the plunger and the bowl, then, once you have a seal, push up and down vigorously to force pressure down into the drain and dislodge the clog. You may have to alternate how hard you push to get the best result, but stick with it and your clog should be gone in no time.
A toilet clog can induce panic, but if you know how to handle it, you should be able to get free flowing with little hassle.