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How Do I Unblock My Toilet?

It’s not a pleasant job but it’s helpful to know how to unblock a toilet should the worst happen.

Please note, we can only give you basic advice on this page to do the job yourself. Make sure you use the right tools and protective equipment to avoid hurting yourself or damaging your home.

Simply follow these easy steps and ensure you have all the correct tools to get started.

Tools you’ll need:

  • A plunger
  • Rubber gloves
  • Old towels/sheets or newspaper

1. Don’t keep trying the flush. If you’ve tried it once and it doesn’t flush properly, it’s blocked and flushed it again won’t help.
2. Locate the blockage. Lift the cover to see if the chamber is full of water. If it is, the blockage is further along the soil pipe. If the chamber is empty, the blockage is in the soil pipe between the loo and the chamber. You can try and clear any blockages in the pipes by using a drain rod or a wire clothes hanger (if this is unsuccessful, it may be time to call in a plumber!).
3. Use the plunger. A ball-shaped plunger is best as it’s shaped to seal the opening in the toilet bowl. Start with a gentle pressure to avoid pushing the blockage further down. Gradually increase the pressure you push and pull with until the water starts to recede. Add more water if needed and repeat. Flush the toilet to see if the flow has returned to normal.

Top tip: if you run the plunger under hot water before you start using it, this will soften it up and it’ll be easier to use and will be more effective.

4. Use a wire hanger. If you don’t have a plunger to hand, grab a wire hanger and unwind it so you have one piece of long wire. You can then use this to gently push the blockage clear; be careful though – you don’t want to scratch your toilet.

If it’s only a partial blockage:

1. Close the water supply at the valve (the location of the valve depends on the model). This will prevent the cistern from refilling.
2. Manually remove as much of the water as possible from the bowl.
3. Pour some washing up liquid (no more than half a glass) directly into the bowl. This will help lubricate the clogged pipe. Wait 10 minutes.
4. Pour 2-3 litres of hot (not boiling) water into the bowl. This will create the pressure needed to clear the blockage. Pour the water in quickly but be careful not to burn yourself. Wait a few minutes to see if the water level falls. If it doesn’t fall, repeat the above step (but only if there’s enough space inside the bowl). If the blockage persists, try a plunger.

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