It’s a sad thing to see a good toilet “go bad,” especially in the middle of the night when you’re having stomach issues. Sure, the landlord or maintenance staff will be around in a few hours, but you need that toilet now.
Why Good Toilets Go Bad
The most common reason a perfectly cooperative toilet stops working is it’s all clogged up. Clogs usually happen from too much toilet paper, or people trying to flush paper towels, tampons or non-toilet paper items like food, cat litter, dog poop, etc., that just weren’t meant to be flushed. If you’re putting this stuff in a toilet, you know who you are.
The Bad Toilet Tool Kit
- No bathroom should be without a plumber’s grade bell or flange plunger. No, not the cheap flimsy plunger you picked up for a buck or two at the dollar store. You want the best plunger money can buy.
- Elbow length rubber gloves. You’re going to be using them to empty a toilet full or half full of hair, toilet paper, feces, tampons or whatever and you really don’t want all that stuff leaking in over the top of a wrist-length glove do you? Make sure they’re heavy duty so they don’t leak, tear or rip.
- A bucket. You’re going to scoop stuff out into it, so make sure it will hold at least 2-3 gallons of stuff. In a pinch, a garbage pail (plastic preferably) will do.
- An old towel for wiping up back splash and drips. (Heavy-duty paper shop towels work much better than your average paper towels for this task.)
- A stiff wire coat hanger for lifting the flapper to drain the tank.
How to Clear a Clogged Toilet
- Remember that bell or flange plunger I advised you to buy? Yeah. Get it.
If the bowl is full, or the water is creeping up higher than the rim, empty it, or bail it out until it’s half full. This is where those great elbow-length gloves and plastic bucket come in handy. Use a disposable cup as a scoop. If the bowl is empty, usually after a sucking sound and then no water fills the bowl at all, then fill the bowl until it’s half full.
- Use an old towel or your paper shop towels to catch any back splash. You can clean it up after, or protect it before. It’s up to you.
- Now, take the plunger and put it into the bowl slowly so you don’t splash up any more than you have to. Make sure the flange of the plunger completely covers the drain opening.
- Hold onto the end of the stick firmly and push down with quick, forceful strokes several times. This will concentrate water pressure down the drain and hopefully dislodge or push the obstruction on through.
- Repeat for 15-20 seconds then check to see if the drain is clear. If the water drains, flush the toilet to see if will drain again. If it appears to be draining normally, you’re one lucky sucker. Clean everything up and give yourself a pat on the back.
- If the water is still not moving, put the plunger back in and try again, using the same forceful thrusts. Don’t be so forceful you crack the toilet. If you’re still not able to clear the clog, you can try chemicals or a mechanical routing device (often called a snake), but be careful. If you destroy the toilet in an attempt to clear a clog you could be forced to pay for replacing it. Better to find another toilet and let the landlord or maintenance staff deal with it in the morning.