Why Do Toilets Get Clogged?

A clogged toilet results in the bowl flooding with water because it cannot drain away. Clogs in toilets need to be dealt with immediately, as they will not get better without intervention. While fixing a clogged toilet is important, so is learning what causes clogged toilets and how to prevent them in the future. Be aware of how your toilet works and why it may become clogged.

  1. Location

    • According to the This Old House website, almost all toilet clogs occur near the top of the up-curving trap. This area is tighter than the rest of the drain, and it is located immediately beyond sight of the opening of the toilet drain. Because the clogs are so close to the front of the drain, they are easy to remove without the assistance of a plumber. Try to free the clog using a few home solutions before resorting to professional help.


    • Clogs are typically made up of human waste and toilet paper, but they often are composed of things that should not be flushed down the toilet. Children may flush things down the toilet just to see them go down, but it is important for adults to be aware of what not to flush down the toilet as well. Facial tissues, while they resemble toilet paper, do not dissolve in water the way that toilet paper does and should not be flushed. Similarly, paper towels and tampons should never be flushed down the toilet.


    • The first step when taking care of a clog is using the plunger. Make sure that there is some water in the bowl, and seal the mouth of the plunger over the drain. Pump the plunger up and down, creating suction underneath the plunger. While any plunger will work, use a plunger specifically designed with a toilet in mind. A toilet plunger has a narrowed mouth that is meant to fit over the toilet drain more securely.


    • An auger also is known as a plumber's snake and it consists of a steel wire with a sharpened tip. The steel wire is run down the drain, and the motor is turned on, rotating the wire. The sharpened tip skewers the clog and brings it up or cuts it into shreds, allowing the water to drain freely. An auger is a machine that is widely available at hardware stores.

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  • Photo Credit vintage toilet image by Alan Heartfield from Fotolia.com

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