How to unclog a toilet

You really get to the heart of plumbing when talking about how to unclog a toilet. I’m pretty sure this is what everybody believes I spend my whole day doing. And don’t misunderstand, there’s nothing wrong with that. That being said, it’s always good to understand what you’re working on before starting a project. To learn about toilets go to our DIY page Toilet Repair. Now let’s get to it.

How To Unclog A Toilet – The Toilet Auger Method

The toilet auger method is the best method. It is the most efficient and the way professionals will generally do it. The toilet auger can be purchased at your local home store for about 50 dollars. I prefer the General Wire Spring company closet auger. I tell anyone that is going to buy one to be sure to purchase the best you can find. I usually prefer the telescoping version. It will auger beyond the trap of the toilet and into the drain a couple of feet. Those extra couple of feet could be the difference between success and failure.

There is a cheaper version with a quarter inch cable that I wouldn’t recommend buying. I bought it once with the idea that it would be useful for augering urinals. It just knotted up inside the drain. I had to throw it away. The thickness of the cable is very important. If it’s too small it won’t have the torque to push through a clog. The larger the drain the larger the cable. You don’t want to have your cable turn in on itself and knot up. You may not be able to get it back out. This method is pretty straight forward. Before beginning you want to be sure you have gloves on of some sort. I prefer the disposable type.

The following illustration will show that you first pull the handle out so that the cable retracts into the auger. Then place the padded portion of the auger at the curve into the toilet drain so that you’re in as far as you can go without scratching the porcelain.

You then begin pushing in on the handle while also turning the handle. You’ll feel resistance at the sharpest turn of the toilet trapway. Just keep pushing and turning. Once past the sharp turn you’ll feel resistance at the clog. You may have to really turn hard while trying to push through the clog. But once you’re through the clog give it a quick yank. Kind of like hooking a fish. The drain should unclog and the bowl should empty on it’s own. I also ream it in and out once the water drains.

After unclogging the toilet I will usually take the lid off and place it flat on the ground with the smooth side down. This gives me a place to set the auger as it drips water. I’ll then get about ten feet of toilet paper and drop it in the bowl. Then flush. If it’s completely unclogged it will take a flush with toilet paper at least twice with no back ups. Then I’ll flush once with no paper just to be sure.

The last thing to do is get a few paper towels or a rag and place it under the auger before taking it outside for cleaning. Never put away a tool dirty. And you don’t want to drip water on the floor. Then empty the residual water that’s in the lid into the bowl. After that, just wipe the lid and place it back on the tank.

How To Unclog A Toilet – The Plunger Method

I’m mentioning the plunger method last because I don’t prefer it. But I also know that we can’t all afford an auger. It will sometimes work. But if your son or daughter thinks it is super cool to watch those personal wipes or that plastic easter egg as it swirls around in a toilet bowl, you’ll find a plunger not that effective. The auger is what you want when dealing with those.

Get the right tool. That sounds stupid, I know. But there are different styles of plungers. A toilet plunger has a cone at the bottom of it that directs water down the drain and helps with a proper seal to the porcelain bowl. If you’re going to do something, do it right.

Next, you place the plunger in the bowl. I lean it back to get the air out as much as possible. Splashing is to be avoided at all costs when dealing with sewage. And I’ve had a plunger full of air burp back at me. I don’t recommend it.

Then begin a quick plunging action. You don’t just thrust a few times and hope for results. Picture a paint can shaker when plunging. The faster you can go the better results you’ll have. This may take a few minutes. But it will normally do the job if the blockage is in the trap. And like the auger, be careful to empty the plunger and clean it afterwards.

Then have a long talk with the culprit that clogged it. As a rule, I’ll always hold the handle down until all water is out of the tank when using the bathroom at a friends house. I don’t wanna be “that guy” at the party.

In Conclusion

Some of you aren’t going to be physically able to do this. And some others may just not want to do it. If you find yourself with a gross toilet clog and unable or uninterested in doing it, feel free to call your local Lees Summit plumber at Advocate Master Plumbing. We’re the local family owned and operated plumbing service company that will guarantee you get a master plumber every time. For more information about other drain clog issues please feel free to go to How to unclog drains.


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