Plunge on in, unclog the toilet

By Joanne Loos Posted in: ImproveThe Fix is In

My husband, Scott, and I have been married for just under five years, but we have been together for much longer.

High school sweethearts who started as best friends, we grew up together in many ways.

Our families became each other’s long before we made it “official,” and when we get together, we jump right back in as though it hasn’t been months since we have seen one another.

On a recent trip to visit Scott’s family this winter, we created many new memories: Taking our kids to Disney World for the fi rst time, holding alligators, swimming with the cousins, and experiencing bathroom mishaps.

I will not name names or get into detail here, but let’s just say that one of these mishaps involved a clogged toilet that was so full it nearly overflowed.

It took two people, several hours of waiting, some splashing, and some uncomfortable conversations to clear up, but we managed to unclog the toilet in the end. If you find yourself in a similar predicament, try these tactics:

Stop the water
If you flush a toilet and notice that the water is not going down the drain, stop it immediately. Reach behind the toilet and turn the water supply off. If the water has risen too high, turn the water off and wait it out. Come back several hours later. If the clog is not too bad, the water should slowly go down the drain, which will allow you to tackle the clog without the risk of splashing dirty water on yourself.

Plunge
After you have stopped the water, and assuming the water level is not too high, place a plunger over the drain hole gently. Push down slowly to create a seal around the hole. Then, pump the plunger up and down a few times before releasing the seal. Once released, the water should go down smoothly. If not, repeat these steps again.

Snake it out
Note that plunging is not always an option. Scott’s parents’ house has new, low-fl ow toilet bowls that incorporate a key-shaped drain. These drains do not work well with plungers because they prohibit the plunger from creating a seal around the hole. Use an auger, or a plumbing snake instead. Make sure the snake has a rubber coating so that you do not damage the toilet. Gently place it in the toilet bowl, and turn the handle clockwise until you feel resistance. Then, wind it back. Repeat as necessary until the clog is gone.

Make a volcano
The classic baking soda and vinegar combination that you used in your eighth grade science project can also work wonders on a clogged toilet. Simply pour one cup of baking soda into your toilet bowl. Allow it to sit for several minutes. While waiting, heat two cups of vinegar in the microwave until warm. Then, slowly pour the vinegar into the bowl. Allow it to react for several minutes before flushing.

Have a comment or question for Joanne? Email thefixisinhawaii@gmail.com.