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How to unblock a toilet

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blocked toilet (soft blockage) When faced with a blocked, slow-draining toilet, there are several options and methods to try before calling out the plumber. The following options should give you an idea as to the possible methods and the order to approach the unblocking of a toilet.

1. The washing-up liquid and hot water method…

washing up liquid and hot water As washing-up liquid and hot water are readily available in most households, this is the easiest and cheapest method for unblocking toilets.

It will not always lead to success, but is worth a try before spending money on the alternatives. The idea is that the force and temperature of the water, and the slipperiness of the washing-up liquid, will dislodge any blockages.

washing up liquid down toilet All it requires is a few squirts of washing-up liquid into the toilet bowl and then hot (not boiling) water to be poured from around waist height on top. This should then be left to sit (no flushing) for at least 20 minutes.

If the water does not drain away, you can add more hot water and wait again. If this method is unsuccessful, move on to option 2.

2. Plunging…

correct toilet plunger The correct type of plungercan be used to slowly force blockages through the pipes, by the suction of water. It is important that it is water, and not air, being moved by the plunger, because water does not compress.

Plungers are relatively cheap and widely available. However, if you are aware of a dropped object obstructing the toilet, the plunging method should be bypassed.

plunging with a mop in a plastic bag

Alternative plungers

Some people use a mop covered with a plastic bag as a quick, accessible plunger alternative. They are used in the same way as plungers, but are messier and not as effective.

3. Snaking…

toilet auger The use of closet augers is the next step in unblocking a toilet. Closet augers are especially useful for when you have flushed a foreign object.
snaking a drain with a coat hanger

Alternative snakes

A bent wire coat hanger can be used to fish things out of the toilet in a similar way to a closet auger. However, coat hangers do not have as long a reach as their auger counterpart and the exposed wire can damage the porcelain.

4. The bicarbonate of soda and vinegar method…

baking soda and vinegar equal clean drain When a toilet is cleared of major blockages using one or more of the other methods, the pipes can be further cleaned by the use of bicarbonate of soda and white vinegar.

Simply sprinkle in the bicarbonate of  soda and wash it down with vinegar. These substances react when mixed and will help clean the walls of the pipes.

5. Chemicals…

chemical drain unblocker Chemical drain cleaners should be a last resort, as they are harmful to the environment and can damage the pipes.

If you do choose to use a chemical drain unblocker, make sure that you follow the instructions on the packaging carefully.

6. Call the plumber…

call the plumber If the toilet is still not draining correctly after using these methods, then it may be that your blockage is further down the system.

In this case, the best solution is to call a drain cleaning expert or a plumber. They can also look for any underlying problems that are causing blockages.