It’s a messy topic, but at some stage, every one of us will no doubt be faced with the problem of a blocked toilet.
The issue is usually caused by inappropriate items being flushed down, ie: toys, toilet rolls (blame the kids!), pads, nappies, air-fresheners, too much toilet paper etc…. Sometimes it can be a slow build up inside the pipes which eventually causes the blockage.
Warning: If your toilet is blocked, it is best not to keep flushing, as this can cause it to overflow, which can make a mess.
Call The Plumber?
The obvious thing to to is to call the plumber immediately, but often this is a task that can easily be fixed without a plumber. It just involves doing something that might be out of your comfort zone because it can be a little bit dirty. But if you wear rubber gloves and are careful, you can usually avoid getting coming into direct contact with “unsavory” items.
There are a few handy items that will make this “DIY” task simpler and less messy:
- Rubber gloves
- Plunger or old-style mop
- Something to keep any splashes off the floor (newspaper, drop-sheet, plastic…)
- Bucket and disposable cup
- Wire coat-hanger
- Something to wrap around your face if you are easily nauseated by “organic” smells.
Start by putting the rubber gloves on.
Then place the drop-sheet, plastic or newspaper (preferably yesterday’s paper) around the base of the toilet.
If the water has not already drained away, scoop some water out carefully with the disposable cup, into the bucket. When the bucket becomes full, you can tip it into a different toilet or dispose of it in the garden (or neighbour’s garden).
If there is visible nasties still in the toilet, it can help to remove them manually (reach in with gloves and pull out any paper or “chunks”).
Unblocking with a Plunger
Take the plunger or mop and firmly push down upon the blocked area. You may need to do this about a dozen times quite vigorously. The pushing of the water in and out will often dis-lodge any blocked items. The suction of the plunger head will draw the blockage towards it and encourage it to go down the pipe. When you are satisfied that the plunging has worked, try flushing the toilet to check if it has been effective.
Unblocking with a Wire Coat Hanger
If you have used the plunger method and found that it hasn’t worked, then another effective way can be to use a coat hanger. Start by unwinding the coat hanger from it’s normal shape. Use pliers if you have soft, web-designer hands like me. Feed the coat hanger down the u-bend of the toilet and move around in a circular motion until the blockage has been dis-lodged.
If these two methods have failed and you are still wanting to pursue a DIY technique, then you can go to your local Bunnings or hardware store and buy a special, flexible instrument that is designed for cleaning hard to reach places. One such tool is the Flexisnake, but there will probably be a few different options available. Tools like that will come with instructions, otherwise ask at the plumbing department of your hardware store.