The bathroom is a central part of any functioning household. Having a clogged or slow draining toilet can bring a home to a standstill. It can become a fairly stressful dilemma, especially if you don’t tend to it quickly and the situation worsens. When drains and toilets start to show signs that they aren’t working properly, you should spring into action and be proactive.
How to Unclog a Slow Draining Toilet
If you notice that your toilet is slow to drain, here are some do-it-yourself exercises you can implement before calling in the professionals.
1. Hot Water and Liquid Soap
The old hot water, liquid soap trick may seem unconventional, but is widely effective depending on the scale of the toilet blockage and obstruction. It is based on a pretty simple concept. If you lubricate the clogged area and hit it with some seriously hot water, it will loosen the blockage so your toilet can flush properly again.
- Start by heating up about a gallon of water on the stove. If you don’t have a pot that holds that much water, you can aim for less. The most important thing is that it is hot enough, the closest to boiling without putting yourself in danger. All you need to do is get the hot water safely from the stove to the toilet bowl.
- While your water is heating up, grab some liquid soap. It doesn’t have to be dishwashing soap, as it is only being used as a lubricant. Shower gel or shampoo will do the trick too. Remember to use the liquid soap conservatively so you don’t wind up with a bathroom full of bubbles.
- When your water is hot enough, put a couple of drops of soap in the toilet bowl. Then follow with the hot water, safely pouring into the toilet bowl.
- Allow it time to sit in the toilet bowl and work its way into the toilet drain. You may need to repeat these steps to get the desired outcome and completely clear the blockage. While this method is time-consuming and requires some patience, it is an effective way to get your toilet drain moving again.
The tried-and-true toilet plunger. Plunging your toilet has been the go-to method for decades when it comes to minor clogs. While it takes some effort, it gets the job done and it can work right away. You’ll want to grab a pair of rubber gloves if you have them for sanitary purposes, and protect your surrounding floors from overflow if the water line is too high.
How to Plunge a Toilet:
- The first plunge should be made gingerly. Plunging too hard the first time may result in water being blown all over the place, so proceed with caution.
- Once you create a firm suction between the bell of the toilet and your plunger, you are free to plunge vigorously.
- Maintaining the seal and suction, continue to plunge the toilet with consistent up and down movements. It may take up to 10 times before you see movement, so stick with it.
- If water runs low in the toilet bowl and it is going dry, try flushing your toilet to get some water flowing in the bowl again. Then continue to plunge until you clear the blockage.
3. Plumbing Snake
The plumbing snake is a more advanced method for fixing your slow draining toilet. A plumbing snake is a very flexible tool and has a substantially longer reach compared to your typical toilet cleaning wire. Not everyone has a plumbing snake just lying around the house, so if you don’t, you may want to invest in one for the next time this happens.
How to Use a Plumbing Snake:
- Push the snake down into the drain of your toilet until you feel some push back, which would indicate you’ve reached the clog or obstruction.
- Once you have made contact with the obstruction, you’ll start to use the crank on the top to break the obstacle into smaller pieces.
- As soon as you twist and poke your way through the obstruction and break up the clog simply flush and you should be good to go. If this doesn’t work and you’re still having an issue, contact the trusted professionals at Detour Plumbing.
4. Wire Coat Hanger
If you don’t have a plumbing snake handy, a simple wide hanger may get the job done. While it may not have the same reach or strength of a snake, it is effective in dislodging obstacles. Start by unraveling the wire coat hanger and stretching it out into one long piece. Leave a bit of a scoop on the end of the hanger, this is to cling to the dishrag. Cover the slightly curved end you are sticking into the drain of the toilet with a dishrag and secure it with some duct tape. Push the end covered in a rag into the drain of the toilet. Push and wiggle around until you feel the clog. Apply more pressure and push the debris to free it. Lastly, flush your toilet and all should be well.
5. Enzyme Cleaning Products
If the clog is persistent and you can rule out that it isn’t something like a child’s toy lodged in the drain, you may want to consider enzyme cleaning products that are made to break down organic matter in pipes and drains. These draining cleaning products can be purchased at your hardware store or online. Enzyme cleaning products are environmentally friendly, unlike their chemical-based counterparts. Carefully read the instruction before proceeding. Follow them to the letter so you don’t cause any undue harm to your plumbing system.
6. Chemical Drain Cleaning Products
While chemical draining cleaning products may seem like the easiest solution, they may not be the best solution. Unlike enzyme products, there can be toxic chemical reactions that can occur if these products come in contact with other materials. You’ll absolutely want to open a window before using them and just like enzyme drain cleaning products, as the fumes that come from these products can be harmful to small children and pets. Follow the directions that are specific to that brand. Read the warnings, side effects and other chemical interactions to avoid.
7. DIY Drain Cleaners
Do-it-yourself drain cleaners are a great solution for minor clogs. For a complete list of household ingredients that you’ll need, and how to use them, check out our blog on ‘Drain Cleaners You Can Make at Home’ for a full step-by-step guide.
What NOT to Do When Your Toilet Is Clogged
Now that you have reviewed your options and decided on which plumbing hack works best for you, let’s take a moment to remind ourselves of what NOT to do when your toilet is clogged. Here is a list of no-nos.
- Keeping Toilet Lid Up – This is especially important when you have small children in the household. Keeping the toilet seat and lid down will prevent curious kids from taking their toys for a swim.
- Using Drain Cleaning Chemicals – As we stated before, chemicals aren’t always the best solution. Not only are you flushing toxic chemicals into the water system, but they can actually make clogs worse the more often you use them. Chemical drain cleaners can also be harmful to some toilet bowls by eating away at the coating of your toilet and piping.
When in Doubt, Call Detour Plumbing Los Angeles
For tough clogs, contact one of the trusted plumbers at Detour Plumbing. We are prepared to work in your home under the strict government and coronavirus CDC guidelines, taking every precaution necessary to keep you and your family safe during the current COVID-19 crisis. We are enacting added safety precautions to ensure our customers and their home environments are left undisturbed.