Ever have one of those moments when nothing seems to go right? Well, one of those ‘matters of inconvenience’ is when the toilet gets plugged up. Now, don’t say this has not happened to you. The worst time is when it is in the middle of the night and you stumble to the bathroom, not bothering to turn on the light, all innocent and unsuspecting. Just as you finish your business, and you’re visualizing crawling into your warm, cozy bed, you hit the flush handle and hear the familiar gurgle that sounds like trouble.
Turning the bathroom light on only reveals your worst nightmare—the rising water in the toilet bowl, along with paper and your business floating along on top. Short of screaming and waking up the rest of the household, what will you do to stop the impending doom before it gets any worse?
If you are like most people, the first thing you will grab is not the toilet plunger, which is hopefully sitting conveniently in a corner of the bathroom on standby. Instead, you will probably throw a towel, rug or bathmat around the toilet to catch the overflow. Next, if you are like I am, you’ll quickly remove anything that you do not intend to get soaked, such as a magazine rack that may be sitting on the floor next to the toilet.
After this initial reaction, you will have to wait for the water to stop rising before taking the next step. The thing you are trying to avoid is dealing with a bigger mess at the wee hours of the morning, while you stand in your pajamas craving sleep.
6 Steps to Unclog a Toilet
Follow these steps for fast toilet relief:
1. Using rubber gloves fish out and discard any large debris floating in the water.
2. Taking a plastic container, scoop out excess water to make the level stabilize.
3. Placing the plunger at the hole that leads to the pipes allow the air to escape for a tight fit.
4. Push down and release, pulling the plunger back out. Repeat a few times as necessary.
5. An alternate method is to press and pull quickly several times without removing it.
6. Once you’ve accomplished this, flush the toilet to check that it is flowing smoothly.
Reasons for Clogged Toilets
There are many reasons why toilets get clogged. Sometimes it is the quantity of toilet paper. Young children who are first learning to take care of their own toileting needs are often guilty of this. Not wanting to get poop on their hands by leaking toilet paper they wad the paper up in layers.
Another possibility is that the toilet paper itself is a type that expands in a way that creates a volume. Many of the softer tissue are double layered. While this creates a wonderful experience for the toosh, it can wreak havoc on the pipes, ‘pumping up’ like a frizzed hairdo in humid weather.
And, of course, there is the infamous list of ‘things that don’t belong in the toilet’ that do get dropped their by little tykes who love to watch it go into the water bowl, and mom fish it out. They make a game of it and no matter how much you try to keep the door closed, if they see their opportunity they will charge, like a caged animal through an open gate. So, if you are missing keys, earrings, watches, and measuring spoons…check the toilet bowl before suspecting house gremlins.
Types of Toilet Bowl Plungers
Other Ways to Unclog a Toilet
If the initial attempts do not free the blockage here are a few other tips to try:
1. Use a snake—a thin, wire-like tool that is fed through the hole until it hits the clog. Then, it is twisted and pressed into the blockage until it frees itself.
2. Liquid chemicals to free drains from clogs—sold in stores everywhere. I have heard that this can corrode the pipes. I’m not sure of the validity of this rumor.
3. Dry or liquid laundry soap or dish soap—a couple of tablespoons sitting for 15 minutes.
4. Call a plumber if all else fails.
The Frog Story
I was fortunate that my two girls never found this to be an amusing game, however, my girlfriend’s daughter did. She is an elegant woman who can hardly repeat the story without breaking up in laughter.
Around eighteen months old, T had a cute plastic frog she played with, which she loved to throw into the toilet bowl, finding it great fun to watch momma pull it out. Time and again, my friend would gently tell her not to throw her frog in the bowl or it would be accidentally flushed down and would be gone forever, but to no avail.
Each time that T would throw it in, she would toddle back to her mother and say, “Fwog, momma, fwog.” Each time that happened, my friend would gently scold her daughter, stop whatever she was doing, and walk to the bathroom to pull out the frog.
My girlfriend does not like frogs, among other pond creatures. They make her squirm, because the thought of holding the slimy body of a frog freaks her out. But, of course, the toy frog is a different matter.
One day, while she was on the home phone little T toddled up to her as usual and pulled at her mom’s pant leg.
“Fwog, Momma,” she said.
My friend ignored her, wanting to finish her phone call. “Not now, T,” she said firmly, “go play.”
T left briefly, then returned with her request for her mom’s attention and pulling at her to come to the bathroom. Again, she was sent away until my friend could no longer ignore her daughter’s persistence. Hanging up the telephone, she sighed and followed her daughter into the bathroom and reached into the bowl to remove the toy.
Suddenly, she let out a loud shriek, slammed the toilet lid down, and flushed the handle hard. Down came the water and flushed the frog—the real, live frog that had come up from the pipes and had surprised her by peering up at her with those big, bulging frog eyes, out to the sewer pipes.
Catching her breath she cautiously lifted the lid to see if the frog was still there, while T stood by holding her little arms out, “All gone, momma, fwog all gone.”
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
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Denise Handlon (author) from Michigan on July 20, 2011:
Wow, Bud-I'm glad it was useful. I ended up writing about it b/c I had the plugged toilet problem at the time. Please let me know if any of those suggestions work. About the rice: I can relate. I used to dump food down ours, like veg. soup or mashed pot. Now I avoid dumping anything other than taking a dump, LOL
I know-TMI-thanks for reading.
Bud Gallant from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada on July 20, 2011:
I found this to be pretty helpful, actually. I don't have a plunger here, and one of the two bathrooms has been inoperable even since I decided to flush down some rice (bad idea, by the way). I've been putting off dealing with it, since there is another bathroom here anyway, my roommate never uses the downstairs one. Now that you've shared you tricks at the end there, I think I might have some success fixing it without having to get a plunger.
I know there probably should be one here, but I'm not going to worry about it unless it's absolutely necessary.
I thought the frog story was funny, too. I imagine that would have been pretty unsettling.
Denise Handlon (author) from Michigan on June 28, 2011:
Funny--is that law nationwide? Gee. That doesn't sound fun. Thanks for commenting. Patsy doesn't know I told that story, LOL
Danette Watt from Illinois on June 28, 2011:
Cute frog story! I recently saw part of a program on Discovery in which a woman had a water moccasin come up through her toilet.
Speaking of toilets, there is a new law or regulation that says new homes and remodeling projects have to put in a low-flush toilet. This type of toilet uses less water and is much more prone to clogging. I know, the people I live with seem to have a thing about using way too much toilet paper! LOL! (Commercial properties like stores, etc. are exempt). I have even heard of people buying an older toilet "on the black market" so to speak so they don't have to deal with the hassle of crappy toilets -- pun intended!
Denise Handlon (author) from Michigan on June 28, 2011:
Thanks Cara for reading and commenting. I laughed so hard when Patsy told me-she tells it great!
cardelean from Michigan on June 27, 2011:
That frog story is hilarious! Thankfully I have never had anything crawl up the pipes into my toilet. Great information in your hub.
Denise Handlon (author) from Michigan on June 26, 2011:
Hi Dahoglund,thanks for your comments. I actually did read about the bucket of water as part of my research.
Will-Thanks for reading and commenting. I appreciate it.
Hi North Wind, Thanks for visiting the site and reading-I've also heard about snakes swimming up the pipes. That would be a good reason not to sit in the dark! LOL
North Wind from The World (for now) on June 26, 2011:
I am surprised the frog went down after the flush. I have had a few frogs swim up the toilet before and no matter how much we flushed, it would not go down. We had to scoop it out ourselves. I have also heard of snakes swimming up the pipes and coiling under the seat of the toilet and so whenever I do go to a bathroom, I usually check that space underneath the seat. There are a few other things that crawl up pipes -rats for one and depending on where you live, large centipedes.
I can imagine your friend's horror when she reached in and came face to face with that frog!
WillStarr from Phoenix, Arizona on June 25, 2011:
Usually, the toilet bowl is large enough to contain one flush without running over. Just use your plunger and you should be OK.
Don A. Hoglund from Wisconsin Rapids on June 25, 2011:
Depending on how it is clogged sometimes pouring a bucket of water in the toilet will clear it.This is not for the situation where it is already full of water but for when it has drained down but not clear.
Denise Handlon (author) from Michigan on June 25, 2011:
Hi timorous-thanks for the feedback. Yes, it does seem to matter how the daggone toilet is constructed. Seems the only ones that don't make a diff are the toilet that stays in the outhouse, LOL It was a weird topic for me, but I actually was curious about the t.plunger the other day, LOL
Tim Nichol from Me to You on June 25, 2011:
Hi Denise. A nice, informative hub. I find many toilets are somehow poorly designed. The curvature of the bowl and the winding route it takes to the drain seems to be critical.
I also find the plunger with the extended collar makes a better seal than the other type. You have to use a good forceful shove to get the standing water to move, as well. Nicely done, Denise.