Clogged Toilet? Follow These Dos And Don'ts As You Attempt To Unclog It

Having a toilet clog can be messy and majorly inconvenient. However, if you approach the unclogging process the right way, you can often free the clog without having to call the plumber. Follow these dos and don'ts for safety and success.  

Do: Give everything a minute to settle before you try plunging.

Toilet paper is designed to break down quickly. So, sometimes all you need to do to free a clog is be patient. Wait a couple of minutes, and see if the water level goes down the clog works itself loose as the toilet paper begins to beak down. If it has been about a half hour and the toilet's still not draining, then it's safe to say you need to intervene with the plunger.

Don't: Use a plunger made for the sink.

A plunger with a plain bowl-shaped end won't get you very far in unclogging the toilet. You need the kind with the a piece that flares out inside the bowl. This piece fits into the toilet drain to form a tight seal.

Do: Use a few firm strokes, rather than a lot of quick ones.

Don't bounce the plunger up and down quickly. All this does is splash water around. Instead, take your time to position the plunger so that you're sure it's tightly sealed to the bottom of the toilet. Then, use long, firm strokes to push water down into the toilet as forcefully as possible. Take your time between strokes to gather enough power for the next one.

Don't: Be afraid to get your hands dirty.

Put on gloves to protect yourself from bacteria, and then reach into the toilet. You may be able to grab some of the clogging material by hand and pull it out of the pipe. Even if you're only able to pull a little out, this might loosen the clog enough to make plunging more effective. Do not reach any other items -- like a hanger or a broom -- down the toilet. They may get stuck, making the clog worse.

Don't: Use drain cleaner.

Drain cleaner is designed for sinks, not toilets. It can splash out of the toilet when you flush or plunge, leading to serious injuries. It's really not good for the pipes, either. If you cannot loosen the toilet clog with plunging, it's time to call the plumber -- not the time to use drain cleaner.