How to unclog a toilet

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Re: How to unclog a toilet

Post by Lurch » Sun Jan 11, 2009 1:16 am

I normally leave the bodily function threads alone, but since I spent part of last night and this morning on just this problem, I thought I'd share.
We had a problem, which turned out to be outside the house. It was evident by the toilet paper washed up around my septic clean-out. I have three seperate snakes, two of the coiled wire type, and one metal ribbon type. All failed to make the necessary corners to reach the plug. Finally ended up at Lowes, buying a clean-out ball. Don't know what they're really called, but it's like a balloon on the end of your garden hose, with a hole in the end. Stick it down the clean-out, and crank the hose. The water can't get out as fast as it goes in, so it swells out against the pipe, sealing it off. Then the water spraying out the end, forces the plug out. They can also be put down your vent pipe, from the top of the house.

Helpful tip: If your water pressure is only so-so, the ball won't swell up, and it won't work. That was my situation. To fix it, I shoved a short stick into the end hole, and shoved it against the bottom of the pipe. With the hole plugged, it swelled up. When it got swollen, I pulled back a little, letting the stick be blown clear. Seconds later, I had an open drain. :D

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Re: How to unclog a toilet

Post by SkullGirl » Mon Jan 12, 2009 12:07 pm

I'm still amazed at how many women I know who flush tampons. I'm sorry, but I do not care if the box says they can be flushed.....bad idea! Worst thing to do to a toilet!
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Re: How to unclog a toilet

Post by Lurch » Mon Jan 12, 2009 4:17 pm

SkullGirl wrote:I'm still amazed at how many women I know who flush tampons. I'm sorry, but I do not care if the box says they can be flushed.....bad idea! Worst thing to do to a toilet!
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Re: How to unclog a toilet

Post by BobtheBreaker » Mon Jan 12, 2009 8:39 pm

inclinebench wrote:Along similar lines, but moving away from the toilet...I had a plumber tell me that a quick fix for a bathroom sink clogged with hair is to put some Nair down the drain, and it will dissolve the hair. He said that if your sink gets clogged with hair more than once a year (yes mine does, I think my wife should be bald by now) then about once a month do a little preventative maintenance by putting some nair down the drain. He also told me that if you are not on a septic tank, but on town sewer, to flush a little bleach down the toilet every now and then to kill the microbial beasties growing along the pipe walls. This helps keep the water flowing quickly and prevents buildups that lead to stoppage.
Unfortunately, your plumber buddy misinformed you. Depilatories don't dissolve hair, just causes the hair to change to soft gooey gel...which isn't water soluble.

What builds up in your toilet pipes that leads to stoppages isn't bacterial, its Urine Salt (uric acid crystals). The same substances that causes Kidney stones, and Gout. Household bleach isnt a strong enough base to effect the salt, you either need to utilize an industrial grade agent or...pay someone to snake it out. The bleach will help manage that whole open sewer odor though.
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Re: How to unclog a toilet

Post by Bakeel » Sun Jan 18, 2009 10:26 am

I am a plumber for a living and let me by saying the toilet auger is the only thing I carry into a house for a clogged toilet call. Tampons are NOT FLUSHABLE, REPEAT TAMPONS ARE NOT FLUSHABLE!
I have a few offices full of women that I work at and it has taken years and many loud embarrassing speeches about how they should not be flushed. The first time you tell the office manager it was a tampon that stopped the toilet up, she is coy and say she will get the word out to the girls, the third time that week you go there you no longer talk to her quietly about it. The 20th in three or for months you just open the door to the cube farm and give her a nod and say loudly, "yep it was a TAMPON again," and watch all the female cube workers head disappear.

As far as fishing something out of a toilet that the auger won't pull back, is to pull the toilet than run the auger through it till it comes out the bottom of the toilet. Than tie a small rag around the auger and pull it back out. The rag fills the trap way and draws the item back into the bowl. This is best done with two people though one to run the auger and one to hold the toilet on the ground.

Common things I pull out of toilets:
pens
tampons
plastic balls from kids toys
toothbrush
deodorant(this is just a special kind of fun)
dentures
pill bottles
those stupid little chotskis that people put on top of the bowl

Less common:
meatballs
potatoes
a little toy shark
I am sure I am forgetting a few of the good ones

I could go on for days about the 1.6 gal/flush toilets but I will be brief. Any of the models made in the last five years are far better the Gen I and Gen II 1.6/flush. Gerber makes a model call the Viper that is good, I am a big fan of any of the Kohler Class 5/Class 6 flush system. The Kohler Cimmaron is a nice crapper. Now the best/proper way to use a 1.6/flush toilet: Insert crap flush, wipe some/flush, wipe some more/flush, repeat until your ass is clean. On average it is a two to three flush procedure, so the water that the government has saved is negated, it only saves you water when you pee.

P.S. Kandoos/Wet-wipe aren't really flushable either I pull them out of sewer lines all the time, but if you must I believe it is the Cottonelle brand that flush/dissolve the best. A good test is if you pull it and it stretches and gets thinner/more transparent it is a little more likely to dissolve faster. If they are just thick and tear throw them away they will stop up you main sewer line soon or later.
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Re: How to unclog a toilet

Post by BobtheBreaker » Thu Jan 22, 2009 9:41 pm

Bakeel wrote: Tampons are NOT FLUSHABLE, REPEAT TAMPONS ARE NOT FLUSHABLE!
:lol: :lol: :lol:

I remember having this tampon flushing related conversation with a female coworker after the 5th or so toilet pull related to said obstruction.

=Why do you flush your tampons?
-Because it says you can on the box
=...What do you use a tampon for?
-For my period...why does that matter?
=I know that, but how?
-It uh, stops stuff from coming out.
=Ok so you insert this thing, and it expands to fit your confined space and prevents a liquid from coming out. Does that sound about right?
-Yeah
=So what part of "item designed to expand in the presense of moisture and create a blockage" sounds like it works well with a toilet.
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Re: How to unclog a toilet

Post by FanaticalModerate » Mon Feb 01, 2010 7:33 pm

Sometimes, you just got to BUMP.
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Re: How to unclog a toilet

Post by grand94jeep » Mon Feb 01, 2010 8:26 pm

I've had great luck with a cap-full of laundry detergent. It reduces the surface friction of the water and allows the clog to pass easier.


I've shown this trick to every maintenance tech I've ever worked with.

This works with sink clogs too. :D

Unfortunately, hair has to be pulled out, or punched through. My wife has long hair. I have to clear the drains every six months or so. :evil:
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Re: How to unclog a toilet

Post by shrapnel » Mon Feb 01, 2010 9:49 pm

Our drains really need to be cleaned. Curse me and my long hair!
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Re: How to unclog a toilet

Post by quazi » Tue Feb 02, 2010 12:04 pm

MacAttack wrote:The worst thing in a PAW is the lack of running water.
It's really not so bad, depending on circumstances of course.
turdo wrote:If someone is wasting water on the toilet in a post apocalypse ... Here's a shovel, take a walk and take a crap.
Some parts of the country have so much water that wasting it really isn't an issue (which Congress should have considered before passing their ridiculous 1.6 gallon limit, but they're not down with common sense when SOMETHING MUST BE DONE!!1!).

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Re: How to unclog a toilet

Post by lonewolf15002000 » Tue Feb 02, 2010 1:08 pm

Great post! It reminds me of an episode of "Disaster House" on the DIY network IIRC. What they did was clog the toilet with a bucket full of elephant poo and tried the plunger method (didn't work). They tried the auger it worked a little, they then mentioned that when forcing that much poo out of your toilet you have now just put it all in the pipes and at that point you need to call a plumber. Because you will not have the right equipment to flush out the pipes completely so they removed the toilet and used the big guns (a larger auger) and forced everything down and flushed the pipe out with running water for about 5 mins I think they said.
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Re: How to unclog a toilet

Post by Krustofski » Tue Feb 02, 2010 2:50 pm

If you need something to stick down the toilet RIGHT NOW, a good length of garden hose with any kind of flexible metal rod (for instance a tomato growth support stick) shoven into it will do in a pinch. No, I won't give details, it wasn't pleasant.
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Re: How to unclog a toilet

Post by NapTime » Wed Feb 03, 2010 12:23 am

Another improvised toilet snake? Wire coat hanger. Not pretty, not amazingly effective, but if you don't have anything else, it'll do in a pinch.

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Re: How to unclog a toilet

Post by Watch Ryder » Sun Feb 07, 2010 9:50 am

Had a blocked toilet once and I used a 'drain snake' type device to clear it.

They are worth their weight in gold.

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Re: How to unclog a toilet

Post by hdandb » Sun Feb 07, 2010 1:34 pm

Being a plumber as well I can say that an auger is a wonderful tool. I only use "snakes" for clearing tub drains otherwise they are useless. Most people take the stopper off their tub shoe and try something going down the drain. You should take the two huge screws off your overflow and snake down that way. You will be surprised at the nest of "gunk" you pull up.

Since nobody else has posted pics I figured I would

auger http://www.ridgid.com/Tools/K3-K6-Toilet-Augers" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; most have a handle that will expand for more length

snake http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/d ... mber=66262" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; useless, but to each their own
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Re: How to unclog a toilet

Post by KnightoftheRoc » Thu Aug 12, 2010 3:39 am

I have only one argument against Jeriah's original post, re; the toilet auger. That being, as you remove the auger, it's better to keep using the same direction of rotation as you started with. The end of the auger is a corkscrew affair, and rotating it in a direction that allows it to bite into a clog is how you want to go- some work clockwise, others counter clockwise, so check which you have. You want the auger to bite into the clog like a screw bites into wood. If you keep up this direction as you remove the auger, you'll bring the clog out with it. reversing direction only unseats the auger from the clog, and usually leaves it behind- this is probably what happened with Jeriah's toothbrush problem.

Removing your toilet is sometimes a necessary evil. Learn from it, if you have to do it anyway. Look at the size of the hole in the bottom of the toilet- this is called the Throttle, and is usually about 2 inches in diameter. This size is pretty universal between makes and models, with some rare exceptions, like the Toto toilet, which has a 3 " throttle, trap, and flush valve. If you manage to push a clog past the throttle of your toilet, in itself it should NOT clog up your pipes- they are all going to be 3 or 4 inches in diameter, compared to the 2 inch clog you shoved past the 2" throttle. If you manage to get a softball past the throttle of the toilet, you need A- to really lighten up, B- your pipes cleared, cause it's gonna be a problem, and C- a new toilet- you done busted yours. Toilet augers are an excellent tool, and for the money, an awesome form of 'insurance' against an expensive, and possibly unnecessary plumbing bill.

Also, a word on plungers- the first line of defense! There are two basic types of the soft rubber plungers. One has a fold out 'throat' on it, the other remains a flat cup shape. The one with the throat is a toilet plunger. The flat bottom ones are for sinks. If you buy a toilet plunger, you can fold the throat up inside, and use it on a sink, but the reverse does not always work- flat bottom plunger on a toilet. Getting a good seal is the important part, otherwise all you do is splash around in poop water. The throat allows for this seal.

@ Bakeel- the fun clog you forgot is a bar of soap- the auger goes right through it, the toilet SEEMS to flush fine, but then never does when there are solids in it.....the good news is, it eventually 'fixes' itself! :lol:
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Re: How to unclog a toilet

Post by KnightoftheRoc » Thu Aug 12, 2010 4:02 am

BobtheBreaker wrote:
inclinebench wrote:Along similar lines, but moving away from the toilet...I had a plumber tell me that a quick fix for a bathroom sink clogged with hair is to put some Nair down the drain, and it will dissolve the hair. He said that if your sink gets clogged with hair more than once a year (yes mine does, I think my wife should be bald by now) then about once a month do a little preventative maintenance by putting some nair down the drain. He also told me that if you are not on a septic tank, but on town sewer, to flush a little bleach down the toilet every now and then to kill the microbial beasties growing along the pipe walls. This helps keep the water flowing quickly and prevents buildups that lead to stoppage.
Unfortunately, your plumber buddy misinformed you. Depilatories don't dissolve hair, just causes the hair to change to soft gooey gel...which isn't water soluble.

What builds up in your toilet pipes that leads to stoppages isn't bacterial, its Urine Salt (uric acid crystals). The same substances that causes Kidney stones, and Gout. Household bleach isnt a strong enough base to effect the salt, you either need to utilize an industrial grade agent or...pay someone to snake it out. The bleach will help manage that whole open sewer odor though.
Agreed. Maybe he works on swimming pools? This has as much merit as pouring baking soda down the drain, followed by vinegar- and I've heard people swear by that one. :lol:
If the buildup on pipe walls WERE biological, you'd see it in PVC pipes as well, but you don't. This is because the salts form corrosion on the pipe walls, the only point of contact they have. This is a major cause of the failure of both copper and cast iron lines. If your local plumbing code allows it, replace failed lines with PVC, and the problem will stop. This is also another reason why pipe/drain clearing acids should NEVER be used- even on plastic pipes. The reactions they produce generate heat, enough to melt and deform PVC pipes, and they can also corrode (further) your metallic pipes- acid doesn't know or care what it's reacting with. Also, if the acid does NOT clear the line, now you have an acid sitting there, eating your pipes, and creating a hazard for the poor schlub who has to come fix it. How much do you think your plumber is going to charge you if he gets acid burned from YOUR actions?

A better way to deal with hair clogs, is to replace your trap with a PVC one, which has the wrench-less fittings. You can unscrew the fittings by hand, clear the trap, and replace the trap, in just a few minutes. This is also a good idea for kitchen sinks, just watch out if you have a garbage disposal attached to it- they can present problems, as can dishwashers. Usually, in either case, all the 'tools' you'll need is a bucket to catch spillage and the clog.

Mechanical means to clear a clog are ALWAYS your best bet- chemicals are just a 50/50 chance of working, and can create more problems than they are designed to solve.
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