If you’ve got a clogged toilet, don’t panic! 9 out of 10 clogs can be fixed with a household tool you most likely already have on hand: a plunger. With a little patience and a little practice, even a total beginner can fix most clogged toilets in a matter of minutes, without buying expensive chemicals, and without flooding the bathroom. Here are some helpful pointers to learn the proper plunging technique.
Before you Begin
Put on Rubber Gloves
Whenever you’re dealing with an issue in the bathroom, it’s important to put your health and safety first. A good set of rubber gloves will protect you from the bacteria lurking in your toilet and the plunger handle.
Don’t Flush the Toilet
Attempting to flush a clogged toilet is a common rookie mistake that can lead to a big mess.
If you think your toilet might be clogged, remove the lid from the tank, then lift the flapper valve (the black plastic piece attached to the chain) a little, allowing a few cups of water to flow into the bowl. If the water doesn’t drain, you’re dealing with a clogged toilet, and it’s time to bring in the plunger.
Proper Plunging Technique
Go Gently at First
To avoid a mess, be sure to plunge gently on your first plunge. Before you plunge, be sure the bell of the plunger is full of air, so thrusting too hard will cause water to spray all over the place.
Position the bottom of the plunger over the toilet trap (the hole), press down gently, but with enough pressure for the plunger to make a seal with the toilet bowl.
Pick up the Pace
Once you’ve forced the air out of the plunger’s bell, start plunging in and out vigorously. Be sure to maintain the plunger seal with the porcelain. Plunging forces water back and forth through the drain, which effectively loosens most clogs.
Keep Enough Water in the Toilet
The plunger should always stay covered with water. Simply forcing air through the drain doesn’t generate enough pressure to clear a clog. If the clog isn’t fixed and you’ve pushed all the water down the drain, release more water from the tank by lifting the flapper valve in the same method described above.
Patience is a Virtue
If you’re dealing with a serious clog, you’ll have to be patient. Most clogs won’t require more than 15 or 20 plunges, but some do. If you’re dealing with a particularly stubborn clog, try changing up your plunging technique: alternate between hard shoves and small, steady strokes.
Try Flushing your Toilet
It’s time to see if all of your hard work paid off! Replace the tank lid and flush your toilet. Following these steps is usually enough to clear a clogged toilet, so hopefully it’s working like new again!
If plunging wasn’t enough to fix your clog, chemical products like Drano might help the problem, but you might be dealing with a more serious issue than a simple clog.
In that case, it might be time for you to call a professional local plumber who has the know-how to fix more serious bathroom problems. You might need a toilet repair, or a complete replacement, which is considerably more difficult than learning to use a plunger.