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Call of Doody: How to Use a Plunger to Unclog Toilet

Yes, it’s really gross! Nobody wants to deal with a clogged toilet, especially if you are a guest in somebody’s home. There are few things more frustrating or embarrassing than flushing a toilet and seeing the water rise (with everything you just deposited into it) instead of going down the shoot like it is supposed to.

The good news is that you don’t have to be a plumber to fix the problem. All you need is some determination and a plunger. Although there are other ways to unclog a toilet, the easiest and cleanest way is to use a plunger. If you do not have a plunger, jump to step 3.

Put on your rubber gloves and let’s plunge right in!

How to Use a Plunger to Unclog a Toilet

1. If you have already flushed the toilet, do NOT try flushing again; I repeat, DO NOT flush it again. This could cause the uh…water to overflow onto the floor and turn your little problem into a big one. If the water keeps rising and looks like it won’t stop, lift up the lid to the toilet tank and close the toilet flapper that releases water from the tank into the bowl as fast as you can. Keep your hand on the flapper until the water begins to rise in the tank and not the bowl. Once that disaster has been averted, move on to step 2.

2. Find a good plunger. The best ones have a rubber extension, sometimes called a flange, at the bottom. The funnel-like plunger on the bottom left creates a stronger seal and allows you to free tough stoppages a lot better than the plunger on the bottom right. Regardless of which plunger you can get your hands on, it is a good idea to run hot water over the rubber part to make the seal more pliant and less stiff.

Funnel-Cup Plunger


Regular Plunger


3. Fill up a bucket with hot water and dish soap and pour it into the bowl. If the water in the bowl is already to the brim, ignore this step. The hot soapy water will help break up the, uh, “stuff.” Let it sit for a few minutes. Sometimes, a toilet can be unclogged without a plunger by using this method. This is good to try if you can’t find a plunger and are too embarrassed to ask for one. Just make sure the water is not boiling as the porcelain bowl might crack.

4. Plunge properly. There is a right way and a wrong way to plunge a toilet. Make sure you are not aggressively pushing down and pulling up. This will splatter the “stuff” in the toilet all over the place, creating a mess of everything. Instead, gently, but firmly, place the rubber end of the plunger over the clogged hole in the toilet bowl.

Make sure the rubber part is fully submerged in water. If it is not, add more hot soapy water. The plunger uses the force of the water, not the air, to clear the obstruction.

Once the plunger has created a good seal, push down and pull up a few times without breaking the seal. Then, flush. If the water does not go down, open the tank again and make sure the flapper is closed so the water does not overflow. Go back to step 1 and repeat the plunge and flush process. If you have successfully unclogged the toilet, congratulations!

When a plunger just isn’t enough and you are plunging and plunging to no avail, your clog may be worse than you think. When objects like children’s toys get stuck in the piping, you may need to buy a more effective tool (like a toilet auger). If water backs up in the bathtub or sinks when you flush the toilet, you should call a plumber since it is probably a main line that is clogged.

Prevent clogs in the first place by teaching your children not to put anything into the toilet that does not belong, like Rubber Duckies and sailboats. That’s what the tub’s for.

Use toilet paper conservatively. Your butt doesn’t need a whole roll.

Flush as you go. You may feel as though you are wasting water, but a courtesy flush after your first “deposit” is a good idea, especially if you are a guest in somebody’s home. It reduces odors and lessens the likelihood of a clog.

If you plumbing lines are still clogged after all of this, give Universal Home Experts a call at (713) 364-0226– our lines are always open!

Keep Calm and Plunger On

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