What to do if a toilet clogged: how to diagnose a blockage and eliminate it

Amir Gumarov
Checked by a specialist: Amir Gumarov
Author: Tatyana Sokolova
Last update: April 2019

Clogging is the most common plumbing issue. It can be triggered by deposits of hard water salts, organic sediments and other debris that enters the sewer pipe, narrowing its inner hole.

In some cases, the clogging of the toilet is the result of the actions of the owners of the apartment, pouring the remnants of food into it, fermenting the homework and dirty water after cleaning the room. How to diagnose a blockage and what to do if a toilet clogged without attracting expensive specialists, we will try to understand this material.

Features of home sewage

Sewerage is an integral part of the drainage system and water supply. It is designed to remove liquid and solid human waste products, to purify household water from pollution and return them for further use or in a reservoir. Sewerage system is necessary for a comfortable stay in a house or apartment.

Residents of apartment buildings are responsible for the condition of sewer pipes in the apartment, and owners of private properties should independently deal with the installation of local treatment facilities, the withdrawal of sewage and maintenance of pipelines and equipment.

In order to avoid unpleasant problems in the future, it is necessary to comply with the requirements of regulatory documents of SNiP for wastewater and sewage. Then the system will work normally without requiring constant monitoring or adjustment.

Sewer system
The presence of a properly designed and installed sewage system will make life more comfortable, help maintain ecological balance on the site and extend the life of buildings

The structure of internal sewer networks includes:

  • plumbing fixtures with water drainage;
  • common riser, to which sewer pipes are supplied;
  • pipe routing, providing the process of transporting effluents from the drain to the riser.

Requirements for internal networks are indicated in SNiP “Internal Sewerage”, in GOST and SNiP “Sewerage”. The systems are mounted inside the building and provide transportation of all effluents from the place of their formation to the removal of the pipe from the building.

Basic requirements for internal networks:

  1. When installing plumbing on drains, it is necessary water seal.
  2. For laying networks, cast-iron or plastic pipes are used.
  3. The diameter of the sewer system from the house is at least 110 mm.
  4. When laying pipes, a slope of 2 to 2.5% must be maintained.

Internal networks of the sewer system must be equipped with ventilation. The process of ventilating the networks is carried out through the common sewer risers - an exhaust part is installed, which is led out to the roof.

Sewer pipe clogging
The main reason for clogging sewer pipes in the bathroom is a significant accumulation of fat and other deposits on the inner surface of the pipe

Due to the resulting blockages, normal drainage becomes impossible, therefore, it is necessary to immediately resume the full functioning of the sewer system. In order to avoid unpleasant consequences due to clogging in the pipeline, you need to call specialists or clean the sewer yourself.

What is the sewage system in apartments?

Sewerage in modern apartments performs the task of disposing of human waste. To this end, from each point where waste is generated (toilet bowl, sink and bathtub), a waste discharge line to a common sewer riser is installed.

Apartments connected to neighboring floors are connected to it. Riser - a large pipe with a diameter of 0.1 m, located in the bathroom.

All sewer systems that are being built in multi-apartment and private houses must strictly comply with construction and sanitary standards.

Previously, only cast-iron pipes were used to equip the sewage system, but now mainly plastic pipes are installed. In a plastic pipeline, the possibility of clogging is less likely, since defects do not appear on the walls, and "overgrowing" of the riser section is very rare.

To facilitate the cleaning of the riser in a skyscraper, holes are made on each floor - sewer revisions.

Cast iron pipe clogging
The most common blockages are cast-iron pipes of the sewer system, which are found in houses of the old foundation. Overgrown pipes have increased resistance to runoff, are subject to external factors

The standard configuration of a plumbing fixture (toilet bowl, washbasin or bathtub) looks pretty simple:

  • drain hole of the device;
  • siphon (bent elbow that is connected to the waste disposal line);
  • riser supply pipeline;
  • large pipe or riser.

A blockage can be observed in any area, while it should be borne in mind that the reason for its appearance is man-made. In the case of using a plumbing fixture for its intended purpose, problems should not be observed.

What to do with signs of blockage?

Each property owner should know what to do if the toilet is blocked in the bathroom. The first step is to warn the neighbors living on the higher floor, and ask them not to use the toilet, bathtub and wash basin temporarily. Then it is recommended to make chop or kvach, which should plug the drain hole.

A method of manufacturing the most simple chop:

  1. We need to take a wooden block about 0.5 m in length, the cross section of which is 1 cm less than the discharge of the toilet.
  2. The bar should be wrapped with sheet foam rubber (1 cm in thickness) in several layers.
  3. On the "bulldozer" you need to put on a few plastic bags, bandaging them with twine.
  4. The chopstick must be firmly installed in the drain hole.

After that, with the help of neighbors, you can find out the cause of the clogging of the plumbing device and determine the place of clogging.

The work of a professional plumber
The most correct solution for a clogged toilet is to call a plumber of the housing office, which will make an accurate "diagnosis" and fix the problem on its own or call the emergency service

If the water from the toilet slowly leaves, and your neighbors are doing fine, then the blockage occurred before the mains entered the sewer pipe. With local blockage, you can call the plumber to your house, or you can try to independently eliminate the cause of its appearance.

If the water in your toilet rises with closed taps and without draining the tank, then the blockage is located below the common riser.

Pipe growth
A common cause of toilet blockage is “overgrowing” of sewer pipes. In this case, a rag or other object thrown into the toilet will lead to unpleasant consequences.

In most cases, eliminating the clogging of the toilet or cleaning the sewer pipe can be successfully carried out independently. Chemical and mechanical methods are used to clean the pipes. Methods for removing blockages in an apartment building or in a private house do not have cardinal differences.

The main causes of clogged toilet

The main task of the owner of the house is to timely determine the problem of clogging of plumbing and urgently take measures to eliminate it. When water stagnates in the toilet, it is necessary to act promptly, but first you need to determine whether the water drains in the remaining sewer nodes (sink, shower, bathtub).

The main causes of clogged toilet:

  • "Overgrowing" of sewer pipes;
  • improper use of plumbing equipment;
  • unsuccessful choice of model and errors when installing the toilet.

If the water from the toilet gradually leaves, and your neighbors are fine, then the blockage is located no further than the outlet of the main to the sewer pipe. In the case of local clogging of plumbing, you can call a professional specialist, or you can try to fix the problem yourself.

The main reason for the slow drainage of water is the “overgrowing” of sewer pipes.

Clogging tools
As a rule, minor blockages can be eliminated independently by various methods. Home sewer cleaning: soda, cable, plunger

If you violate the rules for the operation of the sewer system or because sand, fat, hair and other insoluble substances get into the system, blockage often occurs. The clearance of the pipe is reduced and if the problem is not immediately eliminated, then the drain is condensed, causing "paralysis" of the sewage system.

As a result of the plumbing clogging, the water stops partially or completely leaving, and an unpleasant smell appears in the bathroom. In order to eliminate this problem, it is necessary to clean the sewer.

Errors in the installation of plumbing equipment usually occur with the wrong choice of toilet model, which does not constructively combine with the place of its installation. The presence of this problem is indicated by the incorrect slope of the drain line from the plumbing fixture to the riser. In rare cases, the construction of the toilet contributes to the formation of blockages.

Toilet selection
In order to correctly choose the best quality sanitary equipment for your conditions, it is recommended that you consult professional plumbers before buying

Clogging the riser in an apartment building is a “public” problem, since you or your neighbors can initiate it, and collective participation is not ruled out.

Blockage of liquid waste along the highway within the apartment is your problem, so it is better to eliminate it yourself. Rags, cat litter, diapers, construction debris and other objects that have fallen into the toilet do not belong to liquid waste, so these blockages are eliminated quite difficult.

We also recommend that you read our other article, where we examined in detail the types of sewage blockages. Interested in details - go to the link.

Effective Ways to Eliminate Toilet Clogging

Clogging often forms in the sewers, as a result of which water stagnates and it becomes impossible to operate plumbing equipment. At the same time, an unpleasant odor arises in the bathroom, which cannot be weathered.

Before starting the cleaning of sewer pipes, it is necessary to identify the source of stagnant water. Typically, a toilet blockage is the result of improper use of the drain hole.

Mud plug
In every 2nd sewer pipe there is a mud plug, which can cause discomfort to residents of an apartment or a country house

There are several effective ways to get rid of a blockage of the toilet on your own.

Method number 1 - pipe cleaning with vinegar and soda

If sewage pipes clogged in the bathroom, in most cases you can not ask for help from professional plumbers. First, you can try to clean the sewer system yourself, using water, table vinegar and soda. This is a simple and effective way to clean sewer pipes from simple blockages.

Hot water with clogging
Quick help with a simple blockage of the toilet - soda, vinegar and hot water. These methods are distinguished by accessibility and ease of execution.

Before you begin to eliminate the blockage, you need to heat a bucket of water to the boiling point, after which you need to pour water into the problematic toilet, while creating a strong pressure. To do this, install the bucket in such a way that hot water spills into the toilet bowl as quickly and at right angles.

If the liquid after cleaning began to gradually go away, you must repeat the procedure. These simple steps will help to cope with light blockages.

An equally difficult option is cleaning the toilet from clogging - using vinegar and ordinary soda. The ingredients are poured into the siphon in equal quantities (2-3 tablespoons). After about 20-30 minutes, they can be washed off with hot water. Despite the simplicity of the above steps, self-elimination of clogging requires strict adherence to safety measures.

Method number 2 - hydraulic cleaning

There are a lot of methods for eliminating the toilet blockage, so it is difficult to say which one will help. Consistently applying different techniques, you can solve an unpleasant problem.

If you have a simple blockage or it has just begun to appear, then you can pour several buckets of boiling water into the toilet using a hose. This method is used if the blockage is deep and the water leaves slowly. It helps against organic blockages, sand and other small particles.

Hydraulic pipe cleaning
When the walls of the pipe are overgrown with greasy deposits, the effect can be seen almost immediately, since the hydraulic method quickly erodes such a seal

To do this, a special hose must be run into the drainage line.The other end of the hose must be connected to hot water. By adjusting the pressure to maximum pressure, it is possible to erode the clogging of pipes, up to dissolution.

Performing such a cleaning, you should beware of backflow, so this method is used if the toilet is not completely filled with water, if there is a hole for the drain.

Method number 3 - the use of household chemicals

Consumers can find remedies for clogging plumbing equipment in household chemical stores. Effective special products in the form of granules, powders, sprays and liquids allow you to quickly and easily eliminate an unpleasant problem.

Chemical blockage
The modern chemical industry also produces a variety of tools to prevent the occurrence of blockages. They help to control the condition of sewer pipes and ensure a long service life.

The chemical method helps with the appearance of blockage caused by the presence of a large amount of organic matter in the toilet. Chemicals contain alkali, under the action of which organic waste is completely dissolved and form a loose precipitate.

When using them, alkali should be avoided in the eye area and on the skin. After a while, the blockage in the toilet dissolves, and the water leaves.

Chemistry from blockages
Liquid, dry or granular chemicals are used to eliminate clogging of the toilet in the amount indicated on their packaging

Alkali is not dangerous for plastic or cast iron pipes. If the pipes are steel, then chemicals must be used carefully. Acid-based products can only be used for plastic pipes.

We talked about the most popular and effective means for cleaning up blockages in this article.

It should be noted that a single cleaning of the equipment with special tools does not always help, after a while it must be repeated. You can combine the chemical method of eliminating clogging with the mechanical one.

Chemical methods of exposure can be successfully combined with mechanical, which is especially important for those who at a particular unpleasant moment do not have plumbing tools and devices:

Method number 4 - plunger and its analogues

If the above methods do not have a noticeable effect on the blockage, then before calling the plumbers, you can try to eliminate the unpleasant problem with a plunger with a rubber bowl having a diameter of 10 cm.

Plain plunger
To effectively eliminate the clogging of the toilet, today both a classic plunger and tools of a more modern modification are widely used.

To obtain an effective result, it is first necessary to remove excess water from the toilet. Water should cover only the rubber part of the tool used.

If there is no plunger in the farm and pipe clogging has arisen and requires immediate removal, you can use a variety of homemade tools.Despite their rather primitive appearance, in most cases they turn out to be an effective and inexpensive means of solving an unpleasant problem.

You can use a plastic bottle with a pre-cut bottom. It is lowered into the drain hole with a cut end, after which a sharp pressure is applied to the bottle. No less effective is the “pusher doll”, which is easy to make from rags and a long stick.

Before using the "doll" for its intended purpose, it is necessary to fix the rag well with improvised means.

If you have a used vacuum cleaner or the ability to completely disinfect the device after use, instead of the plunger, you can use the technique:

Method No. 5 - cleaning the toilet bowl with a steel cable

This method is effective when there is a need to remove sanitary napkins, ropes, rags, etc. from the toilet. Organic and other wastes are usually caught in them, as a result of which clogging of sanitary equipment that cannot be eliminated by chemical means is formed.

A plumbing flexible cable is a hollow rigid axis that is equipped with a rotating handle. Every plumber has this tool. At the end of the cable, a spiral tip or a pointed tip made of wire is fixed, which allows to destroy the resulting blockage. The cable thickness is up to 5 mm, and along the length it must reach the sewer riser.

And about what are the cables for cleaning the sewer, read Further.

Pipe Cleaning Cable
The length of the cable may vary and is selected depending on the design of plumbing equipment. The tool will help eliminate the "distant" blockage of the toilet

To break the blockage mechanically using a cable, the spiral-shaped end of the tool is lowered all the way into the toilet bowl. Then rotate the handle clockwise to push the tool into the water seal.

What to do if the cable runs into an obstacle:

  • if the tool rests on the back of the bowl of the toilet bowl, pushing movements must be continued until it slides deeper;
  • if the vertical wall of the riser interferes with the movement of the cable, then a tool with a length of more than 1.5 m is needed;
  • if the toilet has a direct outlet, the cable is pushed horizontally through the pipe to the riser. The tip of the cable may come across a blockage that must be pushed into the riser by translating back and forth.

If you eliminate cable clogging on their own, then this must be done carefully and not only before the process of eliminating stagnant water.

With the mechanical method of cleaning plumbing, it is necessary to treat the blockage site several times, accompanying the cleaning of the toilet by flushing with hot water.

To destroy organic deposits on the walls of pipes, at least 1 time per month, pour two buckets of hot water into the toilet. An obligatory preventive measure is the cleaning of siphons with special chemicals.

Conclusions and useful video on the topic

The videos will help those who wish to independently eliminate the blockage of the toilet and visually explore several ways to eliminate an unpleasant problem.

An easy way to remove clogging of plumbing fixtures with homemade tools:

Non-standard methods of cleaning the toilet:

We have listed the signs and main causes of toilet blockage in an apartment and in a private house. Depending on the cause and complexity of the clogging of the plumbing equipment, you can choose the best way to fix the problem. The use of a chemical, mechanical, or complex method to eliminate blockage will help solve the problem.

If you know other no less effective ways to clean the toilet from blockages, please share them with visitors to our site. Leave comments, ask questions, share experience in the block located under the article.

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Visitors Comments
  1. Svetlana

    I faced the problem of a clogged toilet when I lived in a rented apartment. I came home late in the evening, and water is pouring from the toilet. The apartment was rented in a nine-story building; it was on the ground floor. It’s night on the street, and I ran through all the apartments up the riser and asked not to use the toilet.The emergency service arrived, the plumber found out that someone just threw out the dirty diaper and washed it off. Clogging is not always due to the fault of the owner, sometimes you need to “thank” the neighbors from above.

  2. Quite complicated methods are described, I always coped with the help of a plunger. Although this method is not the most pleasant. It did not occur to me to use a pressure of hot water, but it is very simple and effective, so last year I broke a blockage in the kitchen. And for the first time I hear about soda with vinegar. You need to remember just in case, otherwise our pipes are old, they can become clogged.

  3. Anton

    Chemistry only makes small blockages, hydraulic cleaning is an interesting way, but I can not imagine how to implement it at home on my own. So that remains mechanical, they are the most effective - plunger and plumbing cable.