You wake up in the middle of the night and find relief in the bathroom. To your horror, however, you realize that the toilet is clogged. As you hover between sleepiness and frustration, you wonder, will a toilet eventually unclog itself?
A toilet will eventually unclog itself if normal things like toilet paper and feces are stuck in it. It will take as fast as an hour for a toilet to unclog itself if the thing clogging it is easily degradable, or as long as over 24 hours if an abundant amount of organic matter clogs it.
In this article, we will talk about things that clog toilets and what you can do when your toilet is clogged. We will also discuss how to unclog a toilet with or without a plunger and keep a clogged toilet from overflowing. It’ll also tackle why you keep having toilet clogs.
Things That Clog Toilets
The most common materials that clog toilets are organic matter: feces and toilet paper. When these clog your toilet, you can usually expect the toilet to unclog itself eventually.
Next to organic matter are wipes, diapers, cotton, and feminine hygiene products. Many people often flush these without thought, but they weren’t meant to be flushed in the first place. They’re not degradable, so their chances of clogging your toilet are high. If these objects clog the toilet, the toilet won’t be able to unclog itself either.
At times, the occasional kid’s toys may be flushed on toilets, too, and that can cause toilet clogs as well. When this happens, your toilet won’t unclog itself, so you’ll have to either unclog it or call a plumber.
What to Do When Your Toilet Is Clogged
When you find yourself with a clogged toilet, you usually have three choices:
- You can wait for the toilet to unclog itself.
- You can unclog the toilet by yourself.
- You can contact a plumber to unclog the toilet for you.
If you decide to wait for the toilet to unclog itself, make sure that the materials clogging your toilet are organic waste. Likewise, consider the amount of materials that are blocking your toilet so you can judge how long your toilet will take to unclog itself.
Meanwhile, if you choose to unclog the toilet by yourself, getting a plunger is the easiest way to do this. However, if you don’t have a plunger on hand, you can also use liquid soap, hot water, wire hangers, enzyme cleaners, and toilet bowl cleaners.
Lastly, you can opt for the services of a plumber instead. To look for a plumber, you can call your friends, check your local phonebook, or search for plumbers near you. Hiring a plumber is your best option if you’re impatient over waiting for the toilet to unclog or if you’ve already tried some methods to unclog the toilet but failed.
How to Keep a Clogged Toilet From Overflowing
So, you’re faced with an annoying problem, your toilet is clogged. Whether you decide to call a plumber or wait it out, your goal will be the same: prevent overflow until help arrives or the toilet eventually unclog itself.
To keep a clogged toilet from overflowing, check its shutoff valve, tank flapper, and tank float. The shutoff valve is the switch behind the toilet, the tank flapper is a rubber disc inside the tank, and the tank float is the rubber ball within the tank.
The shutoff valve allows the water to enter your tank, so turning it off will cut the toilet’s water supply and prevent the overflow of your clogged toilet. You don’t need to find the tank flapper and float if you manage to turn the valve off.
However, there are some instances where the shutoff valve may have been unused to the point that it’s no longer turnable. When this happens, you’ll have to resort to the tank flapper and floater for help.
The tank flapper controls the water that enters the toilet bowl, so holding it down with your fingers or an object will help you. Meanwhile, the tank float signals the tank to fill with water, so holding it up will prevent the tank from filling.
How to Unclog a Toilet
If you decided you’d rather unclog your toilet now than wait for it to unclog itself, then the plunger is your best friend. To do this, start by turning off the shutoff valve. This will make sure you don’t get any unwanted overflows.
Next, grab your plunger and slowly push it down your dowl drain. Do your best to seal the bowl with your plunger. Then, pull the plunger up and down. You should feel some resistance as you do this, and when the resistance lessens, remove your plunger to check if the clog is gone.
You’ll know that the clog is gone once the water and other materials go down. If the clog is still there, repeat the process until it clears. Once the clog is gone, turn the shutoff valve on and flush.
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How to Unclog a Toilet Without a Plunger
A plunger is an essential bathroom tool, but maybe yours is broken, or you’ve decided not to have one. If this is the case, you can try other methods of unclogging a toilet without a plunger.
Besides a plunger, you can use liquid soap, hot water, wire hangers, enzyme cleaners, and toilet bowl cleaners to unclog a toilet.
- Use liquid soap. Any soapy liquid may help you unclog a toilet. This means you can use shampoo if you’re stuck in the bathroom. However, the best soapy liquid will be dish soap. To unclog a toilet using liquid soap, pour an abundant amount of the liquid into the bowl. This liquid will help lubricate the materials clogging the toilet. For best results, wait for at least 15 to 30 minutes before flushing.
- Use hot water. Hot water can dissolve the clog faster, and all you have to do is pour the hot water into the bowl. However, be sure to use hot water instead of boiling water. Boiling water may crack your toilet’s base, so be careful about that. If your sink has a hot water function, you can use that and pour it into the bowl. You may also use your shower’s hot water.
- Use a wire hanger. Using a wire hanger to unclog your toilet is easy. To do this, you need to untwist your wire hanger until it’s a straight wire that’s good enough to reach inside your bowl and the clog. Once you’re done, use the wire to poke the clog to dislodge it or tear it enough for water to push it down.
- Use an enzyme cleaner or a toilet bowl cleaner. Enzyme cleaners and toilet bowl cleaners have substances that can help break down a toilet clog. Enzyme cleaners are best for people with old houses since these cleaners won’t harm metal pipes, while toilet bowl cleaners are just good overall.
For more ideas and better visualizations, check out this awesome video:
Why Do I Keep Having Toilet Clogs?
If you’ve found yourself in a clogged toilet situation countless times already, it’s only natural to wonder why you keep having toilet clogs. It’s annoying, it’s inconvenient, and it’s definitely something you want to solve.
The common reasons for constant toilet clogs are having flushed a non-flushable item before, a low-flow toilet, blocked plumbing vent, and a clogged sewer line.
Flushing materials not meant to be flushed in toilets can cause plenty of future clogs for you if the said materials remain within your pipes. Unlike toilet paper, feces, and other organic materials, non-flushable things will remain undegraded and cause trouble.
Meanwhile, having a low-flow toilet means having an older version of a toilet. If your toilet is of this version, you’ll likely keep having clogs since their flushes are weak.
On the other hand, a blocked plumbing vent and a clogged sewer line are best left for plumbers to solve. If you suspect this is why your toilet is always clogged, it’s wise to call a plumber for help.
If normal materials like toilet paper and feces clog your toilet, your toilet will eventually unclog itself. It can take as little as an hour for the unclogging to happen or as long as 24 hours.
If you can’t wait or decide to unclog the toilet yourself, you can use a plunger, hot water, liquid soap, a wire hanger, toilet bowl cleaners, or enzyme cleaners. More importantly, you can prevent future clogs by ensuring only flushable and degradable materials are flushed in your toilet.