Lesson 3- 6725

Residential Plumbing How To Secrets

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Today’s Lesson:
Part 3 of 7

How To Fix a Plugged Toilet

In our lessons so far we’ve learned how knowing one simple fact could save you thousands of dollars in damages.   You discovered which tools are “must haves” to do your own basic plumbing repairs.

If you think of the first two lessons as appetizers then today we are going to get into the main course.   We are going to talk about toilets   How they work and exactly what to do if you have a toilet bowl plugged.

There are a lot of different shapes and styles of toilets but, with a few exceptions, they all work about the same.   Water stored in the tank is released into the bowl to flush the waste into your drainage piping.   Basically pretty simple, right?

The two main problems that happen with toilets are the toilet running (the water not shutting off when the tank is full) and the toilet bowl plugged (not draining or stopped up).   Today we’re going to focus on how to fix a plugged toilet.

While a running toilet wastes water and can be annoying, if you have a toilet bowl plugged it’s a little more urgent.   On a scale of 1 to 10, maybe a 12, especially if it’s the only one you have or you have company over.

The first thing you need to fix a plugged toilet is a toilet plunger.   These are a little different from a sink plunger, which is usually the first thing you think of when you think of a plumber.

A toilet plunger is designed specifically to direct the force into the waste outlet of the bowl. One type (below on the right) that is very effective has an accordian like design and is all plastic.    That’s the kind I have at my house.

fix a plugged toilet plunger fix a plugged toilet accordian plunger
Toilet Plunger 1 Toilet Plunger 2


The way a plunger works is by pushing water through the stopped up drain. The idea is to plunge a couple of times so the plunger fills with water and then jam the open end into the waste outlet in the plugged toilet and start plunging.

If you do have a toilet bowl plugged you may need to be fairly aggressive with the plunger.   If you don’t splash a little out of the bowl you probably aren’t plunging hard enough.   Ever wonder why plumbers charge so much?

Sometimes a plunger just won’t do the trick.   If you’ve plunged a while with no success you might need to try another approach.   It’s time to pull out the closet auger.

A closet auger is a special tool that can be used to fix a plugged toilet.   Some people call this a snake.   You can get one of these at you local hardware store for as little as $10.

toilet bowl plugged closet auger
Closet Auger

The way to use a closet auger is to pull the handle all the way out, insert the business end into the outlet of the toilet bowl that’s plugged and crank it down into the bowl, making sure the cable goes into the drain.   When the bowl drains, flush the toilet while you’re pulling the cable back to help clean the cable and then flush it a couple of more times to make sure.

These two approaches will fix a plugged toilet in all but the worst case.   About the only time they won’t work is if some sort of foreign object has been flushed down the toilet.   Most of the time you have a toilet bowl plugged its just too much toilet paper.

So, the next time you have a toilet bowl plugged grab your tools.   With the skills you’re learning in this course you’ll save a bundle and avoid the inconvenience of waiting on a plumber.

Next time we are going to spend a little time learning about plumbing safety.   Did you know that there are some plumbing problems that can kill you?   Don’t worry, you’ll learn what to look for and how to correct any issues in our next lesson.

Until next time,

Bryan Stevens



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