You’re at a friend’s house for a nice relaxing evening or enjoying a party with friends when nature calls. So you head to the bathroom to do your business when it happens – the toilet clogs! Your face turns white and all of the blood drains to your legs as you watch the water rise to the top of the toilet and you are hoping and praying it doesn’t overflow. This has to be the worst moment of your life right? Maybe not.
Clogging a toilet may seem horrifying in the moment, but stay calm; you can get through this by following these simple steps.
Step 1 – Stop the Water Flow
The number one thing to avoid is water overflowing to the rest of the bathroom. If the water line in the toilet is rising to unnatural levels, it’s important to stop it immediately.
- Locate the water valve behind the toilet and turn it to the right. In the rare case that the water valve can’t be shut off, don’t keep flushing the toilet. If you continue to flush the toilet it will most likely overflow and make the situation worse.
- If the water level isn’t increasing at dramatic rate, you can stop water flow by taking the lid off of the toilet tank and closing the flapper.
- The flapper is a circular drain stopper attached to a chain. Closing this will keep more water from entering the toilet bowl. Don’t worry— it’s fine to stick your hand inside the toilet tank without a glove because the water inside isn’t dirty.
Step 2 – Use the Plunger
Once you’ve stopped the water flow, it’s time to get plunging. (If you can’t find a plunger, leave the lights on in the bathroom and keep the door shut. Quickly check the other bathrooms in the building to see if they have a plunger you could borrow. Otherwise, this could be a good time to quietly ask the host for a plunger and ensure them you’ll complete the task yourself.)
- Make sure the plunger completely covers the hole. Keep enough water in the bowl so the plunger stays covered. If there’s not enough water, look around for a cup and add more water to the toilet bowl.
- Begin to pump the plunger over the hole. Make sure your first plunge is a gentle one. Initially, the bell is full of air and a hard thrust will force air back around the seal and blow water all over (and this time it’s not clean water!)
- Once the air has been forced out, plunge vigorously in and out, while still maintaining the seal. The water will be moving both directions in the drain, which will loosen most clogs.
- Stick with it. It may take 15 to 20 times before the toilet unclogs. Try alternating between steady strokes and occasional big heaves.
Step 3 – Flush the Toilet
Flush the toilet to check the drainage. If the bowl has drained, but the clog is still blocking a free flow down the drain, fill the bowl with water back to the normal level. Begin to plunge again. Don’t be discouraged; a stubborn clog might require you to do this a few times.
Step 4 – Clean Up
If you successfully unclog the toilet, congratulations! Embarrassment avoided. Make sure to clean up any evidence that’s left. Move the plunger around in the fresh toilet water to wash off any remaining residue. Also be sure to wipe up any water that splashed out of the toilet. Use toilet paper, paper towel, or whatever disposable rag you have available. Try checking inside cabinets for any cleaning supplies you could quickly use.
If your efforts weren’t successful, don’t beat yourself up. We’ve all been there. It’s time to talk to the host. Your best bet is to pull them aside, calmly inform them of situation and ask for a helping hand. Maybe send them a hostess gift and consider hosting the party at your place next time.
In the case of any plumbing emergency, George Brazil is available. Our Smell Good Plumbers are here to help you with all your plumbing needs. We are experts in drain cleaning, pipe repair and replacement and more. Whether it’s an awkward encounter or a regular plumbing need, contact a George Brazil plumber, and they’ll be there with a fully stocked truck and state-of-the-art technology to help.