How To Clear A Clogged Toilet Drain
It's one of the worst tasks in residential plumbing, but when your toilet is clogged beyond the point that a plunger can do the trick, it's time to go deeper with a toilet drain snake.
However, you shouldn't give up too easily on the plunger. Sometimes it takes a lot of elbow grease and splashing around in the foul water before you can plunge through a tight clog.
One thing is certain: you must never use a caustic drain cleaner in your toilet. The wax seal that prevents water from leaking from the bottom of the toilet can be eaten away, and you will have putrid water leaking onto your flooring and into the room below.
Taking the plunge with a pump style plunger
While the traditional ball and stick type plunger can be effective in loosening a toilet clog, it creates a lot of agitation in the standing water because of the need to thrust the wooden handle up and down vigorously to create a vacuum sufficiently strong enough to pull the clogging agents loose from inside the drain line.
A pump style plunger, which resembles a bicycle pump in design, remains pressed against the toilet drain with one hand while you pump the handle into the plunger as if you were pumping air into a tire.
This creates less agitation of standing water in the bowl, which inhibits waves of smelly water lapping over the edge of the toilet bowl.
A pump style plunger creates pressure that pushes a clog through the drain system, so much pumping may be required. The major liability of the pump plunger is that you need to get closer to the action than with an old stick and ball plunger.
This may not normally be an issue, but if you create strong pressure with the drain line and still can't dislodge the clog, water may begin to spray out of the top of the plunger body.
This can be ameliorated by wrapping a rag or glove loosely around the top of the plunger body. This will deflect any spray or vile toilet water back into the bowl.
When plunging fails: bring in the snake
You will need a drain snake that is specially designed for use with toilets, with an auger tip that is not sharp and won't scratch the toilet's porcelain surface.
A simple toilet snake consists of a thin metal cable, the special auger tip, and an adjustable handle that you will use to twist the cable through the toilet drain trap and into the floor drain if needed.
Feeding the snake into the toilet drain
Your toilet has a curved shaped trap that is just out of sight beyond the bowl, so you will need to insert the auger tip into the drain opening slowly until you meet a slight resistance.
You will then tighten the handle onto the cable and twist the cable continuously as you feed it into the drain. After 1-2 feet of cable is inserted, you should clear the drain trap.
If the water in the bowl doesn't start to recede, you will need to keep feeding the cable into the floor drain, adjusting the handle further along the cable as needed and twisting the cable continuously.
You will eventually reach a point of complete resistance, which means you have reached the clog. This requires additional force and twisting to burrow the auger tip into the clog.
You can then pull back slightly on the cable to dislodge the clog. If the water in the bowl starts to drain, it's time to reel in the cable and pull out the clog.
It would be smart to have a receptacle such as a small trash can or bucket into which you can coil the soiled cable as it is withdrawn.
It is important to keep your hands away from your face, especially your mouth and eyes, until everything is cleaned thoroughly, because you could have been exposed to potentially dangerous bacteria, such as e-coli in your quest for glory and to save a few bucks on a plumber.