When it comes to toilet clogs, the team here at Watters Plumbing has seen it all. The stories we could tell you about things we’ve pulled out of people’s toilets are priceless — everything from keys to phones to toys. Just the other day we got a call from a panicked customer in Menasha dealing with a clog, which got us thinking about common causes of clogged toilets and how to deal with them.
While it may seem like common sense, we’ve seen many customers who accidentally clog their toilet and then deal with it incorrectly, which inadvertently can lead to ongoing plumbing issues and expensive repairs. Take a few minutes to learn more about some of the common causes of clogged toilets and how you can fix the issues without causing lasting (and pricey) damage!
Using too much toilet paper
This is probably the most common reason toilets get clogged — and oftentimes the easiest to deal with. If we’re honest, most of us are probably guilty of this one at least sometimes.
If you’re one of the many people who use a lot of toilet paper when you use the bathroom, here are a few tips…
- Do a double flush. First, flush the waste, then follow up with a second flush for the toilet paper. This minimizes flushing too much at once.
- Consider switching to a thicker and higher-quality toilet paper so you can use less.
- Fold the paper rather than crumpling it. This makes it less likely for the toilet paper to get trapped in the drain.
- Most of the time, a common, durable toilet plunger should work to take care of these types of clogs.
- If you’re trying to use less toilet paper to reduce clogs, bidets are another great option. The TOTO bidet seat allows you to skip toilet paper altogether. Stop by our Menasha showroom to learn more and find the right seat for you!
Putting non-flushable objects down the toilet
You should never flush anything other than toilet paper down your toilet. Period. It may not seem like a big deal as it flushes down — especially paper products like Kleenex or wipes — but these foreign objects can build up, get trapped, and cause problems over time.
Instead of flushing other paper products down the toilet, keep the following tips in mind…
- Have a garbage bin handy in the bathroom to avoid the temptation of putting non-flushable objects down the toilet.
- Even if the item says it’s “flushable,” like flushable wipes, we still recommend throwing it in the trash instead. These items have been known to clog drains.
- Consider reusable items, such as washcloths and cloth diapers. Not only will they not end up in your toilet, but chances are you’ll save money and keep items out of landfills as well.
- If you’ve flushed or have been flushing things down your toilet, STOP immediately. Don’t push your luck.
Items you shouldn’t flush down your toilet include:
- Feminine products
- Baby wipes
- Makeup wipes
- Paper towels
- Cotton balls/Q-tips
- Dental floss
- Hair from your brush/razor
- Food and beverage items
- Cooking grease
Accidentally flushing something down the toilet
While we’ve seen our fair share of people flushing the above items intentionally, we’ve also dealt with plenty of “accidental” flushes, where something falls in the toilet bowl and the person either can’t or doesn’t want to retrieve it.
Some of the most common accidental clogs include:
- Toilet bowl fresheners falling in
- Phones, wallets, coins, keys, or other objects falling out of pockets or hands.
- Toothbrushes, jewelry, and other objects getting knocked off your bathroom counter and into the toilet.
- Kids flushing toys, garbage, or other foreign objects down the toilet.
When it comes to accidentally knocking or dropping something into the toilet, here are some tips…
- Avoid flushing it if at all possible. Grab some gloves, tongs, etc. and fish the item out. Then you can decide whether to dispose of the item in the trash or clean it. It sounds gross, but it’s better than serious damage and expensive plumbing repairs due to a clog.
- If you’re unable to deal with the issue at the time, lift the toilet seat and/or leave a note so the next person to use the restroom won’t accidentally flush it down or make the problem worse.
- In regards to toilet bowl fresheners, consider switching to a freshener that goes in the toilet tank rather than hanging on the toilet bowl. That way, it won’t accidentally fall in.
- Keep bathroom counters as clutter-free as possible to avoid accidentally knocking things in the toilet.
If the object has already gone down the drain before you were able to retrieve it, which is what generally happens in these situations, you’re probably dealing with an instant clog. At that point, you’ll need to call a plumbing professional to snake the drain and remove the item.
Other issues & tips
Sometimes, a clog may not be caused by anything you did at all. If you’ve taken the above into consideration and you’re still dealing with clogging issues, there are a few other plumbing issues to consider.
- Your low-flow toilet may not be powerful enough to flush the contents down. This is especially common on older low-flow toilets that weren’t designed as well as they are today. If this is the case, you may be looking at purchasing a new toilet. We’re happy to assist you in our showroom.
- Your toilet flapper may not be functioning properly, causing a weak flush. This is generally a pretty simple fix and can be done by adjusting the attached chain.
When to call a plumber for a clogged toilet
In general, we always say that if you’re unsure, it’s better to call someone rather than tackling a project yourself and causing more issues. If you’re dealing with a clogged toilet, here are a few signs it’s time to call in a plumber…
- Basic methods didn’t remove the clog and you’re unsure of how to proceed. It’s always better to consult a professional than risk permanent damage to your plumbing system.
- You know a foreign object was flushed. Usually, you’ll need a professional to get out the toy/keys/etc. in these situations.
- There’s a foul odor throughout the rest of your home. This can indicate a leak.
- Clogs are recurring. If you’ve tried the methods above and you’re still having frequent clogs, a professional can help you diagnose the problem or upgrade your toilet as necessary.
If you have questions about clogs or your toilet, we’re always happy to help. We’ve got plumbers on call 24/7 to deal with plumbing emergencies around Appleton, Green Bay, and the Fox Cities.
Call Watters Plumbing now to handle your leaky repairs. Easy call, fast fix.
Last updated 1/26/2021