Is there anything that can make your heart sink quite like flushing the toilet, only to see that water swirling in the bowl rather than draining like it's supposed to?

And worse yet, if you try to flush it again, you'll be getting dangerously close to having the bowl overflow with excess water – and a lot of nasty waste, too.

What's a homeowner to do? First, learn how to approach a clogged toilet with your trusty plunger to see if you can fix the problem yourself. Not sure how they work? Read on.

 

First Thing's First: Use the Right Plunger

There are two kinds of plungers: those with an oversized suction cup on the end, and those that have an additional flange. The flange is often folded up into the bell, but when you pop it out, you'll see that it fits right into the top of your toilet's drain. This is the kind you want. A plain plunger is also known as a force cup, and it's actually better for sinks and showers than toilets.

 

Next Steps: Create a Good Seal

The whole point of a plunger is to get suction working on your side to pull out whatever has gotten stuck in the drain. Wait 15 minutes until some of that excess water has gone down, then – with that extra flange pulled out – gently insert the plunger into the drain. Press slowly at first, or else you'll end up slopping toilet water all over your bathroom. As you press, form a good seal with the edge of the plunge all around the drain. 

 

Plunge Away!

Once you've created that seal, you can plunge that stick up and down. The suction will move water in your drain up and down, and that's what eventually loosens your clog. It can be a real workout, but feel free to alternate between big and small presses. If you maintain your seal, you should get things to move if you keep at it.

 

When to Call for Help

Follow-up with a test flush to see if your plunging worked. If you've gone several rounds to no avail, it's time to call a plumber for help with your clogged toilet. Drain Blaster Bill will bring in the big guns to fix your toilet right.