What can cause a toilet to block?

Guest Post by James Andrew

Plumbingfail

From http://www.pdmechanical.net/

Many things can go wrong with household plumbing, but nothing can be quite as unpleasant as a blocked up toilet.

Clogged toilets are an extremely common problem, and from San Francisco to Sydney, plumbers see it all the time.

So what causes this and what can you do about it?

Only one thing causes a toilet to block, and that is too much material has been flushed down.

Sometimes it can be all at once, or it can accumulate if there are a series of incomplete flushes that don’t clear the drain each time.

Let’s take a closer look at what might be happening.

Toilet Paper

This is the usual culprit.

While there is no hard or fast rule about how much paper should be used each time, trying to flush a huge wadded handful can lead to clogging problems.

Be more conscious of your paper use, and if you feel the need for a second handful, you should flush the first paper down before adding any more.

Other Hygiene Products

At least toilet paper is supposed to go down the toilet.

Sometimes people forget that a variety of other paper products used in the bathroom are not meant to go down the drain in the same way.

Baby wipes, feminine products, napkins and paper towels should all be thrown away in the trash, not flushed down the toilet.

Even Kleenex should stay out of the toilet, especially if you are using the extra thick and soft variety. Even if some products seem “the same as” toilet paper, don’t flush it.

Toys and Junk

Here is where kid’s notoriously come into the situation.

Small toys (and not so small toys) can end up mysteriously down the toilet, and quite often you never know what’s happened until you fish an action figure out of the drain after it clogs up.

Be very clear with your kids about toys in the bathroom.

Not all the blame is with kids though.

Even adults will sometimes drop things accidentally (keys, toothbrush etc.) down the toilet.

It happens. . . Just try to get them out before they actually go down the pipe.

How to Clear a Block

Regardless of what has gone down the toilet, the main technique for getting things running again is the plunger.

A proper toilet plunger is the one with a central tube portion.

A plain sink plunger is just a bowl of rubber without the tube in the middle.

Firmly place the plunger head in the bottom of the toilet bowl so the tube is in the drain hole.

Position it so the rim of the plunger is against the porcelain of the toilet all the way around, and give it a good solid plunge.

If the block is cleared, the water in the bowl will start to drain. If not, give it another couple pushes.

If you can’t clear it with a plunger, you can try an extendable toilet snake for a more forceful approach.

You can damage the porcelain of your fixtures though, so don’t go with this unless you are familiar with using a snake.

At this point, consider calling in a professional.

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