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How to unblock a toilet

It’s one of life’s dirtiest tricks, but it’s happened to the best of us. We’ve all had to work out how to unblock a toilet. Whether it’s caused by our own misfortune, a child-related incident, or even a pet-related mishap, toilet blockages are a part of life.

It’s one of life’s dirtiest tricks, but it’s happened to the best of us. We’ve all had to work out how to unblock a toilet. Whether it’s caused by our own misfortune, a child-related incident, or even a pet-related mishap, toilet blockages are a part of life.

That’s why we’ve written a dedicated guide to help you with all your plumbing woes – saving you from flooding hazards and mess. Read on to find out how to solve a clogged toilet.

Check out our handy toilet unblocking cost guide for a comprehensive pricing breakdown.

How to fix a blocked toilet

Guide on how to unblock a toiletBefore you begin the unclogging process, you’ll need to grab a few things:

  • Some rubber gloves
  • An old towel or a stack of newspapers
  • An old bucket
  • An unused wire coat hanger
  • Some baking soda and vinegar
  • A plunger!

Now you’re equipped, follow these next steps.

How to unblock a toilet with a plunger

Step one: Protect yourself and the area

Use old towels or newspapers to line the floor around the toilet. Don’t waste your loo roll or your finest cotton towels, as things might get messy. Then, when you’ve finished protecting the area, put on some old clothes and don your rubber gloves.

Step two: Avoid accidental overflow

Overflow is a no-no. A flooded bathroom is the last thing you need, especially when you’re on an unclogging mission. So, locate the shutoff valve in the pipe, which is likely coming out of the wall behind the toilet.

  • Gently turn it clockwise. If you live somewhere with hard water, then it might need loosening with some oil.
  • Older toilets won’t have a valve, so you’ll need to take the float out of the toilet tank (the ball that sinks when the water levels drop).
  • Use a thin piece of wood or a coat hanger to prop up the float, so the tank doesn’t refill when you flush the chain.

Step three: Use your plunger to create a vacuum

If you haven’t found an obstruction yet, you’ll need to use a plunger to help dislodge the blockage. Please make sure the plunger you’re using is for a toilet by checking whether it has a flange, which is used to create a secure seal in the bowl.

To work effectively, your plunger needs to be fully submerged in water. So, add some to your toilet bowl if there isn’t enough. Then, get pumping! Slowly but firmly push it down to make a seal, then pull it up to ‘plunge’ the blockage into oblivion. You’ll know it’s worked when the water clears and your toilet stops overflowing. If it does overflow, close the flapper to prevent the water from entering the bowl.

Top tip: For a better seal, soak the plunger in hot water to soften it slightly.

Step four: Thoroughly clean the plunger

Now your toilet is blockage free, give your plunger an excellent clean! You can do this by flushing your toilet a few times and dousing it with bleach. To finish, add a mugful of baking soda and two mugfuls of vinegar into your toilet bowl and let it bubble down to nothing. This will help break up any materials that are clinging on!

Mission accomplished. You’ve just learnt how to unblock a toilet.

If this doesn’t sound like something you could do or are up for doing, then we recommend getting in a plumber to take the stress (and blockage) away for you. Hiring a professional will also ensure that nothing is damaged in the process.

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How to repair a blocked toilet

Blocked toilets? How to fix a blocked toilet drain

Like all things, prevention is better than cure. Want to know how to stop toilet blocking issues in the first place? Easy. Regular maintenance! Be sure to clean and flush your toilet bowl at least once a week. Not only is this good basic hygiene, but it also means you’ll be able to see any issues, such as leaking, low water pressure, poor flushing and/or overflow before it becomes a problem.

You’ll know when you need to fix a blocked toilet drain as the water remains high when you flush it and takes a long time to drain away. You’ll also have lots of leftover waste in the bowl as the suction mechanism doesn’t perform well. To fix this issue, use a plunger or try one of our other methods (below) if you don’t have a plunger handy. If no foreign items or any impacted waste are blocking the drain, the issue should be easy to remedy.

Toilets clogged? How to unclog a toilet

Knowing how to fix a blocked toilet is one thing, but knowing how to unclog a toilet when there’s waste present is another thing entirely. It’s worth noting that most things that clog your toilet are soluble, which means they’ll break down over time. However, if the issue is pressing or time-sensitive, try adding one cup of baking soda and one cup of vinegar to the clog first. Please leave it to do its thing and then try flushing. If there’s still an issue with overflow or slow drainage, get a heavy-duty bin-bag and remove the obstruction/s by hand (whilst wearing rubber gloves, of course!)

You can then try using a plunger or one of our other methods (below) to finish the job and test your flush.

Top tip: Use a cup to drain excess water before testing the flush. This will avoid overflow and potential floor damage!

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How to unblock a toilet without a plunger

how to unblock a toilet without a plunger
If disaster strikes and you don’t have a plunger handy, then these methods will stop you from getting bogged down. Here’s how to fix a blocked toilet without a plunger.

Materials required:

  • A pair of rubber gloves
  • Some old newspapers
  • An old bucket
  • Hardy washing up liquid
  • An empty plastic bottle
  • A wire coat hanger
  • Some baking soda and vinegar
  • A roll of clingfilm

The washing-up liquid method

Most washing-up liquids have chemicals that can help break down matter. Squeeze about half a mug into your toilet bowl and leave for half an hour to dissolve. Then, fill up a bucket of hot water and pour it into your toilet from a height. Leave for another ten minutes and then flush the chain. Repeat as necessary.

The clingfilm method

Some people swear by this chemical-free method (whilst others swear this method doesn’t work). Either way, it’s worth a shot – especially if you have a high-pressure toilet system. Simply lift up the toilet seat and cover your toilet bowl with three layers of clingfilm. Then, flush the chain and watch the clingfilm balloon upwards. Push down on the balloon to reverse the suction and, in theory, push the blockage through the drain.

The plastic bottle method

If your toilet is full and there’s no plunger to hand, this method is for you. Don your rubber gloves and line your floor with newspaper before you get started. Then, cut the bottom off a plastic bottle, make sure the lid stays on, and ‘plunge’ the bottle up and down in the bowl. Make sure it stays underwater so you can create a vacuum that dislodges the blockage back into the main drain.

Top tip: Bail out any excess water to avoid spillages!

The wire coat hanger method

This is a tried and tested method that works well for softer blockages. All you need to do is straighten out a wire coat hanger before pushing and pulling it through your toilet to break down the blockage. Follow it up with the washing up liquid method to rinse away any residual material.

Does this all sound a little messy? If so, we recommend hiring one of our professionals to help fish you out of dirty water.

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How to unblock a toilet from tissue?

Try letting the toilet bowl sit for a few hours, and this will allow the toilet paper to disintegrate. If this doesn’t work, try a plumbing snake. This tool is very effective in hooking out lumps of toilet paper as it has a special hook-tip that grabs onto the blockage.

How to unblock a toiletHow to unblock a toilet with baking soda?

Add one mug of baking soda with two cups of vinegar into your toilet bowl at the same time. Let the chemicals mix and fizz down to nothing. Then, give your toilet a good clean before flushing it. If there’s still a blockage, you’ll need to try a different method.

What to use to unblock a toilet drain?

There is a wide variety of tools available to tackle a blocked toilet drain. You will need to choose the right tool for your circumstances;

  • A standard plunger
  • An auger (with bowl guards to prevent scratching of the porcelain)
  • A plumbing snake (smaller counterpart to an auger that pulls the blockage out the way it went in)
  • An air pump toilet plunger or a drain rod set (professional only recommended – for tackling the toilet drain blockage from outside – near the mains sewer feed).

Considering a toilet drain pipe is typically 3 inches in diameter but can be up to 4 inches in diameter you will need to select a tool that best fits the drain size and blockage type.

Who do you call to unblock a toilet?

Some jobs are a little more complex and require an expert to come and fix. If you’ve tried all the above methods and nothing has worked – then it’s time to call a plumber.

How to stop a toilet from overflowing when clogged?

If you have a severely clogged toilet pipe, the best way to avoid overflow is to cut off the water supply. That way, you won’t cause accidental damage to your floors. Find the small hand-crank next to the main water line that runs from your toilet and through the wall or floor. It should be easy to locate at the bottom of your toilet. If your pipes are hidden, access might be harder. However, your plumbing installation should allow for the removal of any panels to enable access to the main system.

Alternatively, remove excess water using a disposable cup and a waste bucket.

For more handy information like this ‘how to unblock a toilet’ guide, check out our blog!

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