If you’ve ever come face to face with a clogged toilet, you know it can be pretty tense. Watching that water rise quickly and knowing you only have a few minutes or even seconds to react can be extremely stressful. The last thing you want is for the contents of that bowl to overflow onto your floor! If you want to be prepared to come out the winner in this showdown, use these tips to learn how to plunge like a plumber.
Keep the Right Plunger Handy
You might not realize there are actually two types of plungers:
- Red Cup Plungers: To make it easier plungers are colored either red or black. Red plungers have a shallow cup design to handle clogs in sinks. These plungers will not be of much use when you try to flush out a clogged toilet.
- Black Flanged Plunger: The black plunger has a flange and deeper cup providing more pressure to release the clogs in a toilet. They are designed to create a strong seal at the top of the toilet drain, so you can create pressure when you plunge the toilet.
There’s no use having a plunger if you keep it in the basement or garage. Each bathroom should be equipped with a black plunger to handle clogs quickly to avoid overflows.
As soon as you see that water rising after a flush, you have to act fast. Quickly remove the tank lid and lift the ball float or fill valve. When you do this, you should see the water in the tank stop filling immediately. Next, remove the water line from the overflow tube, or push down on the flapper valve to stop the water in the tank from entering the toilet bowl.
Turn Off the Water Source
On the wall behind the tank, you will see a valve for the water source. Turn the valve to the right (tighty righty) to turn off the water so there is no chance more water can enter the bowl.
Now that the water is under control, you can get down to the real work. Place the plunger into the toilet bowl, making sure you get a good seal around the toilet drain. This will help ensure you have enough force to dislodge the clog in the u-trap. Holding the plunger with both hands using a rapid up and down motion keeping the seal in place to apply pressure. Soft clogs should release quite quickly while some clogs might be more stubborn and require several plunges.
It is not uncommon for clogs to allow the water to drain but keep some of the solid debris in the bowl. Don’t try to plunge a dry bowl, as not only could this cause a disastrous mess, but also you won’t be able to get a good seal and enough pressure to release the clog. If this is the case, you can turn the water valve back on, turning it to the left. Allow enough water to fill the bowl so you can begin plunging.
When the Clog Isn’t Flushed
There are two possible reasons you aren’t able to remove a clog with the plunger:
- Solid Object: A solid object could be lodged in the toilet such as a toy. If you dare, you can put on a rubber glove to see if you can feel anything at the mouth of the toilet drain and try to remove it.
- Clog Beyond the Toilet: If you don’t find anything solid at the mouth of the toilet drain, there’s a good chance the clog is beyond the toilet. This could be a clog in either the branch drain or main sewer.
If you are unable to dislodge the clog with your plunger, it’s time to call MyGuy Plumbing. We have the tools to assess the situation and take proper steps to fix the problem.
Using a Snake or Auger
Professionals will use a tool called an auger or “snake” to try to clear the obstruction. The flexible tool can reach down into the pipes safely and force the blockage out of the way. This can be a messy job but can work quite well as the wire can reach as far as 25 feet into the pipes. If this doesn’t work, chances are the clog is further down in the main sewer.