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How to unblock a toilet

Jason Bonanno
How to unblock a toilet

If you want to learn how to unblock a toilet drain DIY, there is no better teacher than an expert blocked drain plumber. Local plumbers who specialise in drainage know all the tips and secrets to fixing a clogged toilet fast. They can also tell you how to identify the cause of the blockage, which is essential to knowing how to fix a blocked toilet correctly.


How to unblock a toilet that is backing up or won't flush 

A toilet that is backing up - ie overlfowing with raw sewerage - is stressful and unhygienic. 

A toilet backup means there is a blockage somewhere in the sewer line preventing the water and waste from travelling freely through the pipes.

If the toilet isn't overflowing but fills up with water when flushed and drains very slowly this indicates are partial clog. This means there is a blockage in the line but there is still a small amount of room for the sewerage to pass through.

Either of these situations could be the result of one of two things. The first is a local clog. This means the obstruction is in the S-bend or in the pipes immediately attached to the toilet drain opening. The second possibility is that there is a main sewer line clog.

If there is a clog in the main sewer line, no amount of instructions on how to unblock the toilet will suffice. This is because blocked sewers are complex and require particular industry tools to repair Your best option is to call a local blocked drain plumber as soon as possible. A blocked sewer main affects all the drains in the home so you may notice:

  • Multiple drains around the home blocking up

  • Water draining slowly in multiple drains
  • A bad smell coming out of multiple drains

If it’s a local clog that’s only impacting toilet drain, below are some tips you can try to fix the blocked toilet.


How to unblock a toilet with a drain plunger 

In most cases a drain plunger can unblock a clogged toilet quickly. A drain plunger is most effective on clogs caused by excessive toilet paper, sanitary items or things like tissues and wet-wipes that are stuck in the S-bend. If the toilet is filled to the brim with water and waste, use a bucket to remove as much as possible. Keep a small amount of water in the bowl to help with the suction.

Place the plunger securely over the drain hole and push up and down forcefully. You want to be forceful with both the pushing and pulling motions for the greatest chance of success. If it’s not working straight away, don’t give up. Sometimes a stubborn blocked toilet requires a little more perseverance.

You will hear a gurgling suction sounds as the clog dislodges and moves down the pipe. The water levels should subside in the bowl. It’s very important not to flush the toilet during this process until the blockage is gone. If there is still a large amount of water inside the toilet, flushing it will only increase the likelihood that it will overflow onto the floor.


How to unblock a toilet WITHOUT a drain plunger

We recently wrote another article dedicated entirely to this topic. You can read the full article here. In summary, there are a few household items that can save you if you’ve accidentally blocked a toilet and don’t have access to a plunger. You can try using either a string mop or a toilet brush with a plastic bag tied over the end. Use your chosen tool in the same way as you would a plunger, trying to get the best seal over the toilet drain as possible. Alternatively you can unwind a metal coat hanger and secure a rag around the end. Again, use it in the same way you would a plunger.


How to unblock a sewer main drain

As mentioned, this isn’t a skill that can be learned by a layperson. By law, you have to call a licensed plumber to do any repairs or maintenance on sewerage infrastructure. It’s better to call the local plumber sooner rather than later as a severe sewerage clog can cause backup not just through the toilet, but all of the drains inside your home. This means dirty, unhygienic and untreated sewerage coming out of the sinks, the floor wastes and the shower drain. Raw sewage is full of harmful diseases and bacteria that can harm your family.

A blocked drain plumber will conduct a CCTV pipe inspection using a plumbing cameras that’s specifically designed to inspect the inside of drain pipes. This way the plumber will know exactly how to unblock the sewage drain based on the video evidence. Every clogged drain is different so video diagnostics means faster and more accurate repairs. Once the plumbing camera inspection is done, the technician will most likely perform drain cleaning using a jet blaster. Powerful streams of water blast the pipes clear from clogs and no drain cleaner chemicals are needed.

If the plumbing inspection uncovers damaged pipes, the plumber may need to recommend other repairs such as replacing the damaged section, re-lining the pipes or installing a new sewerage system.


Jason Bonanno
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