How to Unclog a Toilet Filled with Water | Day & Night Air Conditioning, Furnace, & Plumbing

If you find your clogged toilet won’t drain, this blog will teach you:

  • What to avoid and why.
  • DIY steps to try in a pinch.
  • When you should call a professional plumber.

Nothing can send you into a panic quite like when you have a house full of people, and your clogged toilet won’t drain. So when faced with a blocked toilet filled with water, what do you do? Don’t worry; you aren’t alone. In Phoenix, AZ, and surrounding valley areas, Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing is here to help.

What Not To Do

Before attempting to clear the blockage, know there is one thing every professional will warn against. You may be tempted to try a commercial drain cleaner marketed as a clog buster. Do not do this! There are several reasons why:

  • Drain cleaners have a high concentration of corrosive chemicals like lye and sulphuric acid. These chemicals can be dangerous if inhaled, ingested, or come in contact with the skin.
  • The chemicals can damage plumbing if overused. Not only can it corrode pipes and sink traps, but it can dissolve rubber gaskets or adhesive in pipe joints.
  • If you attempt to plunge in standing water that also contains drain cleaner, the chemicals could splash on you, potentially causing burns or even more severe injuries.

Now that you know what not to do, let’s explore what you can do to clear a blocked toilet filled with water safely.

Bring Out the Plunger

You may not realize that using a plunger effectively means using the right type and technique. If time is of the essence and you want to eliminate the clog yourself, take these steps to ensure the best outcome. 

1. Stop the Water From Filling the Bowl

You know the feeling: the dread, the panic, and the impending doom as you watch a toilet fill with water and everything else you expected to go down the now clogged drain. Don’t stay frozen in fear. Move quickly to stop the water from filling the bowl by taking off the tank lid. Find the flapper and push it down quickly to stop the water from flowing from the tank to the bowl before turning off the water valve.

2. Use the Right Plunger

Now that you’ve averted an embarrassing and messy flood, it’s time to pull out the plunger. Hopefully, you’re already equipped with the best type of plunger for clearing a clog. The best one is a funnel-cup style. But, regardless of the style, the key is getting a good seal between the plunger and bowl. 

3. Warm Up Your Plunger

Your plunger is relatively stiff in its natural state. But what you need is for it to conform to the shape of the bowl more readily. The easiest way to do this is by warming the plunger in hot water for a few minutes before using it. More flexible rubber will seal better over the drain.

4. Try To Soften the Clog

To get the best results, try softening up the clog before you start plunging. Here are a couple of techniques using items found in most households:

  • Soap and Hot Water - Remove some of the water in the toilet with a cup or bowl to make room for adding about a gallon of water. Put a soap dish, shampoo, or slivers of bar soap in the bowl. Then heat a gallon of water to the temperature of hot tea, pour into the bowl, and wait about 20 minutes. 
  • Baking Soda and Vinegar - Try a safe chemical reaction. Measure one cup of baking soda and pour it into the toilet bowl. Then, slowly pour in one cup of vinegar. The fizz may help to break up the clog before you even have to plunge. Even if it doesn’t, it is safe to plunge after trying this combination. 

5. Use the Correct Technique

There is a proper technique to use when plunging a toilet. First, ensure it is sealed over the drain. Then plunge down and firmly back up. The pullback motion is equally as important as the downward motion. 

After a few strokes, hopefully, the clog will be dislodged, and the water will rush from the toilet bowl. If so, you can safely turn the water back on and try to flush the toilet normally. If not, you may have a bigger problem that goes further back in the plumbing. That tells you it is time to call in the professionals.

Call a Professional Plumber

When your best DIY efforts aren’t working, it’s time for professional intervention. Besides the clog that won’t budge, other signs that your DIY efforts won’t work are seeing water back up into tubs or showers when you flush. That could indicate there is a problem with your main line.

A professional has the experience to look for and recognize the symptoms that indicate likely sources of your problems. They also have the training, tools, and equipment that help to diagnose your plumbing blockages. Their methods can include some or all of the following:

  • Pipe cameras - The only way to see what is going on in plumbing under slabs or behind walls is by using a camera. Pipe cameras give an internal view of what is happening inside the pipes. This tells them if there is a root, a crushed line, or other types of obstruction. Understanding what they are dealing with helps them know what tool or technique is best for the job. 
  • Manual drain snake - The drain snake is a long cable with a corkscrew-type end. The plumber will insert the end into the drain then crank it through the pipe until they dislodge the clog. 
  • Motorized drain snake - A motorized drain snake is similar to the manual drain snake, except it is powered by a motor for very large pipes or stubborn clogs that have resisted other techniques.
  • Drain auger - A drain auger is similar to the drain snake. It is usually used on sinks or small drains. They can also be manual or motorized.
  • Hydro-Jet - The hydro-jet uses pressured water to break down buildup in drains and pipes. It can be used for periodic pipe cleaning or removing the toughest blockages. The hydro-jet is faster and more efficient than other techniques and can also work as a preventive measure to avoid future clogs by cleaning off buildup within the plumbing.
  • Cable cleaning - Cable cleaning machines have a cable with sharp spinning blades on the end to cut through blockages. It is less messy than drain snakes. 

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating & PlumbingIs Your Trusted Plumbing Professional

If you ask your friends and neighbors in Phoenix, AZ, and surrounding valley areas, who they can trust for honest, dependable service, the answer is Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing. Our team of professionals has the training, experience, and expertise to handle your most challenging problems. Whether you need HVAC service, plumbing, or drain clearing, we will be there for you. For fast, efficient, and friendly service, contact us today

Featured Image: Jones M/Shutterstock

Call Now Button