Is there anything that can make your heart sink quite like flushing the toilet, only to see its contents swirling in the bowl rather than draining like they’re supposed to?
Worse, if you try to flush again, your toilet will get dangerously close to overflowing all of the waste you just deposited into it. If you’re really unlucky, you’ll end up with a nasty mess on your bathroom floor.
Luckily, a simple plunging can usually solve most minor toilet clogs, especially those that stem from an overabundance of toilet paper in the pipe. But if you’re unsure how to properly use a plunger, unclogging your toilet can feel intimidating.
After all, how can you get the plunger in that nasty water without accidentally causing the bowl to spill over? Read on to find out.
Use the Right Plunger
There are two plungers: those with an oversized suction cup on the end, and those with 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. The plunger with the flange is the tool you'll want to use for this job.
A plain plunger is also known as a force cup, and it's actually better for sinks and showers than toilets. If that's all you have in your house, you can try to use it to unclog your toilet drain, but it won't work as well as its flange-bearing counterpart.
Expect to spend more time attempting to clear the blockage, if you're able to clear it at all (if you can't, have a drain cleaning pro handle the job). You should also expect to make a bit of a mess since the cup won't create a solid seal around the drain opening.
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. Before you start trying to unclog the drain, wait about 15 minutes until some of the excess water in the bowl has gone down the drain.
When the water level is a couple of inches lower, grab your plunger, make sure the flange is pulled out, and gently insert the bell end into the wastewater. Line up the flange over the drain opening and press down on the plunger handle. Push slowly at first, or you'll end up slopping toilet water out of the bowl and onto your bathroom floor.
As you press, form a good seal with the edge of the plunger all around the drain. You’ll know it’s well-sealed when you allow the bell to decompress and it doesn’t suck additional water from the bowl into the toilet drain opening. You’re not looking to push air into the drain opening — you’re looking to push water in there, which will forcefully dislodge whatever’s blocking the drain.
Once you've created a solid seal, start forcefully plunging that stick up and down. The suction will move the water in the drain back and forth, and that's what eventually loosens the 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, and the toilet still won’t flush, it's time to call a drain cleaning specialist for help.
You may be dealing with a more serious drain issue, such as a blockage in your main sewer line, that only a professional can fix. If that’s what you’re up against, you’ll need a drain camera inspection to locate the blockage and will probably require water jetting to clear whatever sludge is clogging up the line.
If you have a septic system, a clogged septic tank could be the culprit behind your toilet’s refusal to flush. That’s especially likely if you’ve noticed water backing up into your bathtub when you flush or run water into your bathroom sink. If that’s the problem, you’ll need to have the tank pumped to get your plumbing system working right again.
Common Toilet Plunging Mistakes to Avoid
If you’ve tried to plunge away your toilet clog with no success, you may be making a simple mistake or two that’s rendering your efforts useless. Here are the most common toilet plunging mistakes you’ll want to avoid making:
● Holding the plunger at an angle while you plunge. Always hold the plunger straight up and down to form a good seal around the drain opening.
● Breaking the seal. Make sure you keep the plunger’s flange in full contact with the area around the drain opening. You’re trying to create suction, so you must keep the hole fully sealed off.
● Using the wrong plunger. If you’re using a flat plunger (the type designed for sink, shower, and tub drains), you’ll have a tough time dislodging a toilet clog. You can try, but it’ll take much longer and you may not be successful.
Need Toilet Drain Cleaning Near Stillwater, MN?
Are you dealing with a stubborn toilet clog that you just can’t seem to dislodge? Then get in touch with our team at Drain Blaster Bill’s Sewer & Drain Cleaning in Stillwater, MN! We offer same-day scheduling and 24/7 emergency service, so whenever you need household drain cleaning, don’t hesitate to give us a call!
To learn more about how we can help or get a drain cleaning estimate, call us at 763-913-8719 or request a free estimate online, and we’ll get in touch with more information.