Nothing's more frustrating than trying to flush and hearing that dreaded gurgle ... again. If one or more of your toilets just keeps clogging when you use it, that’s a headache you want to fix ASAP.
Below are a few DIY tricks to try while you wait for expert help that can permanently fix that clog.
Why Does My Toilet Keep Clogging?
There are several possible reasons why your toilets keep clogging time and again, including:
- Flushing non-flushable items (baby wipes, Kleenex, paper towels, feminine hygiene products, etc.)
- Using too much toilet paper
- A malfunctioning flapper
- Mineral scale buildup
- An initial clog moved further down the pipes without having been cleared
- Something caught in the toilet’s p-trap
- Buildup in your pipes
- A drain line blockage
- A bigger issue with your plumbing or sewage system
Fixing a Chronically Clogged Toilet: It’s Time for the Pros
Most of the causes listed above don’t have quick fixes. A plunger may dislodge a one-time clog, but a recurring clog is likely one catching again deeper down the pipes. A plumber can permanently fix these problems, professionally clearing the clogged drain or repairing any broken parts of your toilet.
What You Can Do for Your Toilets in the Meantime
Trying to fix a serious problem on your own may only make things worse. But we understand that it’s frustrating to have a toilet that clogs repeatedly. Try a few troubleshooting tips to keep the toilet running while you wait for your appointment with a licensed expert.
Handling an Overflowing Toilet
This is the worst-case scenario: the toilet isn’t just clogged, but the water is backing up out of the bowl and onto the floor. Turn off the water supply valve behind the toilet immediately to prevent any further backup and call for emergency plumbing services. While you wait, use a bucket or bowl to bail some water out of the toilet and into the sink or shower (you can clean either one later) and mop the mess off the floor if you can. This will minimize stains and the spread of the smell. Wear cleaning gloves if you have them.
One Toilet Keeps Clogging When Flushed
If your first instinct is to reach for the plunger, you’re right! The first thing you should try is getting the clog out of the way. This helps avoid a mess and lets the toilet be used again in an emergency. Place the plunger head in a tight seal over the drain and push down in short, sharp motions. Flush to check if it worked and try a few more times if the clog persists.
The other quick fix you can try is resettling the flapper: the flat rubber part that seals the opening between your toilet tank and the bowl. It should lift on a chain when you push the flushing handle. You can reach into the tank with your hand and manually fix any tangles in the chain and resettle the flapper to ensure a tight seal.
What to Do When the Upstairs Toilet Keeps Clogging (But the Downstairs Ones Are Fine)
When all the toilets on one floor are clogged, the most likely cause is a drain line blockage. This prevents any drains that feed into that line from fully draining. Watch the shower drain as you flush: if water bubbles up, it’s probably a blocked drain line.
Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do here since the clog is almost certainly too far to reach without professional tools. Let everyone know not to use the toilets on that floor and call for an emergency plumber.
All the Toilets in the House Keep Clogging: Help!
If all your toilets are the same age and you don’t have a water softener to combat the hardness of Cincinnati water, they may be suffering from mineral buildup. Minerals create a rough inner pipe surface that holds onto debris and encourages clogs. You can temporarily clear your pipes with vinegar, baking soda, and a kettle of boiling water.
- Turn off the water supply to the toilet.
- Flush a few times to clear the water out of the bowl.
- Put a pot of water on the stove to boil or turn on a full kettle.
- While the water heats, pour half a cup of baking soda and half a cup of vinegar down the drain.
- Let sit for 5 minutes.
- Pour the boiling water into the bowl, taking care not to burn yourself on water or steam.
- Flush the toilet.
- Turn the water supply back on and flush again if there are still traces of the baking soda and vinegar paste.
- Repeat for each toilet in the house.
Without a water softener or regular drain cleaning, this problem will continue to come back. Don’t reach for chemical cleaners; they may promise a quick fix, but the harsh chemicals can damage your pipes.
How to Keep a Toilet from Clogging Right Back Up After a Fix
One of the most important things you can do to prevent clogs is to keep unflushables away from the toilet. If it’s not human waste or toilet paper, it doesn’t belong in the toilet – even if the packaging says it can be flushed. That means no:
- Feminine hygiene products
- Baby wipes
- “Flushable” wipes
- Tissues or paper towel
- Makeup wipes
- Dental floss
- Cotton balls or Q-tips
- Cat litter or other animal waste
- Hazardous waste like paint, automotive fluids, yard chemicals, and sealants
- Disposable gloves
- Face masks
Even too much toilet paper can cause a clog; limit your TP to eliminate huge wads getting stuck in the drain.