How to Fix a Clogged Toilet: A Complete DIY Guide

A clogged toilet is one of the most common plumbing issues that homeowners face. According to a survey conducted by the National Association of Home Builders, approximately 78% of the homes in the United States have experienced a clogged toilet at some point. A clogged toilet can be a frustrating problem to deal with, but fortunately, it’s also one of the easiest to fix. In this guide, we will walk you through the steps to fix a clogged toilet on your own. By following these tips, you can save money on costly plumbing repairs and avoid the inconvenience of a backed-up toilet.



Dealing with a clogged toilet can be a frustrating and unpleasant experience. It’s one of the most common plumbing issues homeowners face and can cause great inconvenience if not dealt with properly. While some may opt to call in a professional plumber right away, others prefer to tackle the problem themselves through DIY plumbing.

DIY plumbing can be a cost-effective solution for minor plumbing issues such as a clogged toilet. However, it’s important to note that not all clogs are created equal. Depending on the severity of the clog, certain tools and techniques may be required for proper unclogging.

Before attempting any DIY plumbing fix, it’s essential to identify the root cause of the issue. Clogged toilets can have various causes such as foreign objects lodged in the bowl, buildup of toilet paper or waste, or even tree roots infiltrating the pipes. Once you’ve identified the source of the problem, you can determine the best course of action.

In this article, we’ll provide a step-by-step guide on how to fix a clogged toilet, complete with tips on how to prevent future clogs. By following these expert tips, you can save money on costly plumbing repairs and avoid potential health hazards associated with prolonged exposure to sewage backups. So let’s get started!

Step 1: Identify the Problem

Step 1: Identify the Problem

One of the most frustrating plumbing issues homeowners can face is a clogged toilet. Before you can fix the problem, you first need to identify it. Here are three common signs that your toilet may be clogged:

  • Toilet Bowl Water Level: If you notice that the water level in your toilet bowl is higher than normal, this could be a sign of a clog. In some cases, the water level may even rise to the top of the bowl and start to spill out onto the floor.

  • Flushing Problems: Another common sign of a clogged toilet is difficulty flushing. You may notice that the toilet takes longer than usual to flush or that the water drains slowly from the bowl.

  • Water Backup: Finally, if water starts backing up into other fixtures in your home (such as sinks or showers) when you flush the toilet, this is a clear indication that there’s a blockage somewhere in your plumbing system.

By identifying these common warning signs, you can quickly determine whether or not your toilet is clogged and take steps to resolve the issue before it gets worse.

Step 2: Gather Necessary Tools

Step 2: Gather Necessary Tools

Before attempting to fix a clogged toilet, it’s important to gather the necessary tools. With the right equipment, you can effectively and quickly clear your toilet without causing further damage or making a mess.

  1. Plunger: A plunger is one of the most basic and essential tools for fixing a clogged toilet. Choose a good quality plunger with a flexible rubber head that can create a strong seal around the drain hole. There are two types of plungers – force cup and flange. Force cup plungers are ideal for sinks and showers while flange plungers are specially designed for toilets.

  2. Toilet Auger: Also known as a toilet snake, a toilet auger is a long, flexible tool that can help dislodge stubborn clogs. To use a toilet auger, insert the end into the toilet bowl and crank the handle to push the cable through the drain. The auger should be used only after an unsuccessful attempt with a plunger.

  3. Gloves: Before starting any plumbing work, it’s important to protect your hands by wearing gloves. A pair of rubber gloves will not only keep your hands clean but also protect them from bacteria and germs.

  4. Bucket: While working on a clogged toilet, there’s always a chance of water overflowing and spilling on the floor. Have a bucket ready to catch excess water and prevent any mess. A bucket can also be used to pour hot water down the toilet to loosen up the clog before plunging.

By having these necessary tools on hand, you can tackle clogged toilets effectively, quickly, and with minimal mess.

Step 3: Use a Plunger

Step 3: Use a Plunger

When dealing with a clogged toilet, using a plunger can be an effective approach to remove the obstruction. There are two types of plungers that are commonly used for this purpose – the force cup plunger and the flange plunger.

The force cup plunger is the more traditional type, recognizable by its red rubber bell-shaped head. This type of plunger works best for minor clogs as it uses suction to remove the blockage. Before using the force cup plunger, make sure to create a tight seal between the plunger and the toilet bowl opening. To do this, apply petroleum jelly to the rim of the plunger cup and push it down into the opening. Then, using strong, quick thrusts, push and pull the plunger up and down to create suction. Repeat this process until the water begins to drain.

The flange plunger, on the other hand, has an extra piece of rubber around the bottom of the cup, which creates a better seal than the force cup plunger. This type of plunger is best suited for more stubborn clogs. To use the flange plunger, first, fold the flange back to create a funnel shape. Apply petroleum jelly to the rim of the cup and insert the plunger into the toilet bowl opening. Then, perform the same plunging motion as with the force cup plunger, creating a powerful suction to dislodge the clog.

Regardless of the type of plunger you use, proper plunging technique is crucial to ensure success. When plunging, always use firm, rapid strokes rather than slow, gentle ones. This creates more pressure and increases the chances of breaking up the clog. Additionally, take care not to break the seal between the plunger and the bowl as this will reduce the effectiveness of the suction.

In conclusion, using a plunger can be an effective and affordable way to fix a clogged toilet. By selecting the right type of plunger and using proper technique, you can often solve the problem without having to call in a professional plumber.

Step 4: Try a Toilet Auger

Step 4: Try a Toilet Auger

If plunging didn’t work, it’s time to bring out the big guns – a toilet auger. Also known as a toilet snake, this tool is designed to break up tough clogs that a plunger can’t handle.

To use a toilet auger, start by inserting the end of the cable into the toilet bowl and turning the crank handle. You should feel some resistance as the cable moves through the pipes, but keep cranking until you reach the clog. Once you’ve found the obstruction, continue cranking the auger handle to break up the blockage.

It’s essential to use an auger specifically designed for toilets, as using a regular drain snake could damage your plumbing. Additionally, make sure you’re wearing gloves and following proper safety procedures to avoid injury.

While using a toilet auger can be effective in removing stubborn clogs, it’s important to note that it can be challenging to use correctly. If you’re not comfortable using this tool or if the clog is still not clearing, it might be time to call in a professional plumber.

One final tip – prevent future clogs by disposing of waste properly. Avoid flushing anything other than toilet paper and human waste down the toilet, and consider adding a small wastebasket in the bathroom for items like baby wipes or feminine hygiene products. By taking these simple steps, you can avoid future plumbing issues and save yourself time, money, and frustration.

Step 5: Call in the Professionals

Step 5: Call in the Professionals

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try to fix a clogged toilet, it just won’t budge. Perhaps it’s a persistent problem that keeps coming back no matter what you do, or maybe the situation has escalated into something more serious. In such cases, it’s best to call in the professionals and seek out their expertise.

Knowing when to call a plumber is key to avoiding further damage. If you have attempted to clear your toilet with a plunger or auger and the clog persists, it’s time to call in the experts. Other signs that indicate it’s time to contact a professional plumbing service include slow draining water, gurgling sounds, foul odors, or water backup in sinks or showers.

Professional plumbers have the necessary tools and experience to tackle the most stubborn clogs and ensure that your toilet is working properly again. They can diagnose the root cause of the problem and make recommendations for future preventative measures. Additionally, they can provide other services like septic tank repairs, pipe replacements, and leak detection.

It’s important to choose a reputable plumbing service with licensed and insured technicians. Do your research by reading reviews and asking for referrals from friends or family members. Once you have selected a professional, be sure to communicate clearly about the issue at hand and ask questions if you’re unsure about anything.

Calling in a professional plumber may cost more than fixing the problem yourself, but it can save you time, money, and hassle in the long run. Plus, it gives you peace of mind knowing that the issue has been resolved correctly and safely.



Clogged toilets can be a major annoyance, but there are several steps you can take to prevent them from happening in the first place. By following proper toilet maintenance techniques and being mindful of what goes down the drain, you can avoid costly repairs and keep your plumbing system running smoothly.

One of the best ways to prevent clogs is to watch what you flush. Only toilet paper and human waste should go down the toilet. Avoid flushing items like wipes, feminine hygiene products, and paper towels, which can all cause blockages.

Regular cleaning and maintenance can also help prevent clogs. Use a toilet bowl cleaner at least once a week, and use a plunger regularly to keep things flowing smoothly. It’s also important to check for leaks or other issues that could lead to clogs or more serious problems down the line.

If you do experience a clog, don’t panic. Follow the steps outlined in this guide to try and clear the blockage yourself. However, if you’re unable to fix the problem on your own, don’t hesitate to call in a professional plumber. They have the tools and expertise needed to identify and fix even the most stubborn clogs.

In summary, preventing clogs and maintaining your toilet properly is key to avoiding costly repairs and keeping your plumbing system in good working order. By taking a few simple steps and being proactive about maintenance, you can avoid the inconvenience and expense of clogged toilets.
After following the steps outlined in this guide, you should now have a clear understanding of how to fix a clogged toilet. Remember to identify the problem, gather the necessary tools, and try using a plunger or toilet auger before calling in professionals.

It is important to note that preventing clogs in the first place is the best way to avoid costly repairs and maintenance. Be mindful of what you flush down your toilet and practice proper toilet maintenance to keep your plumbing in good working order.

By taking the time to learn these DIY plumbing skills, you can save yourself time, money, and stress down the line. Don’t let a clogged toilet ruin your day – with the right tools and techniques, you can easily tackle this common household issue.

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