How to Unclog a Toilet Bowl Choke

If you'd prefer not to call a plumber right away, there are a few methods that you can use to unclog a toilet yourself. Most of these involve common household ingredients or tools, whilst others involve a bit of ingenuity.

Whichever the case, most toilet bowl chokes are solvable without the need for a professional, but some obstructions can be difficult to deal with and may require more than one unclogging method to solve the blockage. If you're pressed for time, or simply prefer someone else to resolve the toilet choke for you, find a professional plumber online.

What can cause toilet bowl chokes

  1. One common reason for a choked toilet is simply that the toilet itself is getting old. Older toilets are known to drain slower than others, and this increases the risk of choking because the debris doesn’t clear as easily.
  2. A blocked plumbing vent may also cause clogging. When it’s not operating properly it reduces the flushing pressure.
  3. If you’re using the wrong kind of toilet paper and also have a tendency to flush non-flushable items down the toilet, you could experience choking. It’s not just sediments that form obstructions.
  4. Sediment deposits can be avoided if you clean your toilet bowl regularly. Use recommended drain cleaners or homemade drain cleaners from time to time and remove small sediment particles before they turn into larger deposits.

Methods for unclogging a toilet bowl choke

Commercial drain cleaners

Commercial drain cleaning products are often effective at unclogging a toilet and usually formulated to work with all types of chokes. They can dissolve harder obstructions, not just organic deposits. Do make sure though to check the labels on the products as some drain cleaners will specifically state that they are not appropriate for usage with toilets.

If you prefer not to leverage chemicals to unclog your toilet, you may try one of the additional methods.

Use a plumbing snake or auger

This flexible coil is a great tool to keep around the house. It’s an effective solution for organic and other types of clogs. The longer the snake the better.

Note that there’s a specific type of plumbing snake that works best – the closet auger. This one features an extra-long handle and is typically designed to avoid staining or scratching the porcelain bowl.

Plunge the end of the snake into the toilet bowl. Use its handle to direct it and force it down the drain. Keep pushing until you reach the obstruction.

Once you find the clog, the idea is to twist the snake while also pushing it harder into the obstruction. This motion and applied force can break through just about any obstruction. This creates smaller pieces that should be small enough to go through the drain pipe.

Hard obstructions such as kid’s toys may not be resolved with a closet auger. At least not without removing the toilet first and running the snake much deeper into the pipe.

It's also possible to construct a homemade auger by leveraging a large wire coat hanger. This will only work if the obstruction is relatively close to the main toilet entry point.

Homemade drain cleaner

One of the easiest solutions you can make to fix a choked toilet bowl involves two common household ingredients – vinegar and baking soda. While any vinegar would work, distilled white vinegar tends to work better than other types.

Mix the vinegar and baking soda in a 2:1 ratio. Separately, heat up half a gallon of water (1900ml). Pour the vinegar solution in the toilet first and allow it to bubble away in the toilet water.

This is followed by pouring the hot water into the toilet bowl. Make sure that it’s not boiling or piping hot, else it could crack the porcelain bowl.

Pour the water from higher up to create more force, which helps to push whatever is clogging your toilet bowl. Allow this mixture to sit overnight or at least for a few hours.

Flush your toilet twice in the morning. Note that this isn’t going to fix all clogs but it’s effective against organic deposits.

Use some dish soap

Pouring dish soap into your toilet bowl may also do the trick. Dish soaps act as a lubricant and may help any lodged obstructions to move along. Try half a cup or one full cup of dish soap and see if anything changes.

Alternatively, you can break up a bar of soap and drop it in the toilet bowl. If you see the water starting to drain, it means it’s working. Don’t force flush the toilet to avoid any spills.

You could also add hot water, similar to what’s previously described in the vinegar and baking soda method. In this case, the hot water is used to break down the chunks of soap. Pouring from the waist level should work nicely.

Plunge your toilet brush

If you have a narrower toilet brush, you can use a toilet brush to try and break up the obstruction. Put some cleaning gloves on to avoid getting messy and angle the brush towards the drain.

Push it in as hard as you can. If you’re lucky and the obstruction is within reach, simply pump the brush in and out of the drain. Don’t be too aggressive to avoid breaking the brush and causing another obstruction.

Don’t be afraid of the plunger

There’s a reason that every homeowner should keep a plunger in the bathroom. It’s usually one of the fastest ways to deal with a milder toilet bowl choke. Here’s how to do it properly.

Settle the plunger with ease into the toilet bowl. Push it down slowly. This will release any air without splashing toilet water in the bathroom. It also helps to create a good seal.

Once you have the seal, pump the plunger a few times. Break the seal by removing the plunger. Hopefully, the resultant force will be enough to dislodge what’s clogging your toilet.

If the water doesn’t appear to drain, repeat the process a couple more times. If that also doesn’t work, use the vinegar and baking soda and hot water combination. Let it sit for a few hours and then try the plunger again.

Wet/dry vacuum cleaner – messy and not for everyone

This is a solution that not every homeowner can employ. Not everyone has a wet/dry vacuum cleaner, for one. Nevertheless, if all else fails and you’d rather not call the plumber, use it if you have one in your home.

First, use the vacuum to remove all the water from the toilet bowl. It’s much faster than removing it with a squirt gun or sponges. You may want to cover the vacuum cleaner in some foil and put your cleaning gloves on.

After the water’s gone from the toilet bowl, insert the end of the hose into the drain. Get it as close to the obstruction as you can. Wrap a piece of cloth or a towel around the vacuum’s hose to create good suction.

Try vacuuming the obstruction out. At this point, a plunger may work just as well, if not better, since there will be less cleaning afterward. This could render your vacuum not suitable for use, later on, so use this as a last resort solution.

Last but not least – call a plumber

Most plumbers turn to a professional-grade closet auger first to dislodge any obstructions in the toilet bowl. However, there’s a bit of skill and technique involved in twisting and pushing an auger efficiently.

A plumber will do a better job than you, especially if you’re trying to break up a hard obstruction or something big that’s lodged in the drain pipe.

Of course, plumbers can also handle an obstruction that is further down the drainpipe. They know how to turn off the water and dry the toilet bowl first, and they’ll be bringing with them all the tools necessary to resolve the more complex situations.

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