How to Fix a Clogged Toilet

One of the most common and frustrating fixes for a homeowner is a clogged toilet. Learn how to fix it with a plunger or auger.

By: Claudia Rhea, Illustrator

Photo By: Illustration by Claudia Rhea

Photo By: Illustration by Claudia Rhea

Photo By: Illustration by Claudia Rhea

Photo By: Illustration by Claudia Rhea

Photo By: Illustration by Claudia Rhea

Gather Tools

If your toilet clogs, don't panic. You only need a few tools to fix the clog — a plunger, a toilet auger and rubber o-rings.

Stop Water From Overflowing

Take the lid off the tank, and push the flapper down to stop more water from entering the bowl. Then turn off the water supply behind and at the bottom of the toilet.

Use a Plunger

After the water is turned off, try using a conventional plunger to unclog the toilet. If a plunger doesn't do the trick, use a toilet auger.

Try an Auger

If a plunger does not work, try a toilet auger (snake). You can get one at most hardware stores for $20 to $50. The trick of a auger is to get the cable right through the throat of the toilet. Put a little tension on the cable and start turning the auger, extending the cable down into the drain pipe. As you push down, you will feel the auger drop. Once the auger approaches the clog, give it a little extra tension to punch a hole in the clog, creating a line to the sewer.

A plunger may also be used in conjunction with an auger in order to create enough suction to blast out any material that may still be clinging to the hole that was punched out by the auger.

Note: The toilet and the bathtub normally share a drainage pipe, so if the clog is too impacted for the auger to punch a hole, the whole clog could be shoved so deep that the bathtub becomes clogged as well. Once the clog in the toilet is removed, be sure to check your bathtub drainage as well.

If Still Clogged, Remove the Toilet

If the clog can't be eradicated with a plunger or an auger, the toilet must be removed to get better access to the drain. To remove the toilet, turn off and disconnect the water supply. Use a shop vacuum to remove the standing water from the toilet. Unscrew the two bolts at the toilet's base, lift the toilet and slide it forward. Tip: Lift the toilet from the rear so any water still remaining will flow towards the front of the bowl instead of onto the floor.

At this point it is best to call a professional plumber. He or she will likely use an industrial auger that has over 100 feet of steel cable. The long-reaching auger can go far enough to hit the main sewage line to clear out the clog.

Reattach the Toilet

After the clog has been cleared, be sure to run water from the toilet's supply line into the drain for about two minutes to ensure the clog is gone. Reconnect the toilet by screwing the bolts back in and reattaching the water supply line. Be sure to flush the toilet a few times after replacing it to make sure the water is draining properly.

Shop This Look