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What To Do with a Blocked Toilet

If your toilet isn't draining, here are some tips on how to safely unblock it at a time of the year when blockages become commonplace.

With World Toilet Day taking place on Tuesday 19th November, we thought now would be the perfect time to give some advice on what to do in the event of a blocked toilet. Sometimes the problem will be relatively simple and can be fixed without having to call out the professionals.

However, if the problem persists or you’d rather have an expert take a look, we have an emergency call-out service available on 0333 344 1931 for same-day repairs. Whatever the case, here are some handy tips to get you started.

Don’t flush twice

A blocked toilet is pretty easy to spot, as it won’t drain properly or even at all. If this happens, the first thing to bear in mind is to not flush it a second time. The toilet bowl is designed to hold a single cistern of water without overflowing, but if there’s a stubborn blockage the only thing you’ll achieve with another flush is a wet floor.

Speaking of which, we recommend placing some towels, rags or newspaper around the toilet before moving on to the next steps, as this will help to minimise the mess as much as possible.

Wear rubber gloves

Hygiene in the home is very important, so put on some rubber gloves in order to protect your hands from waste, germs and bacteria. If the blockage is minor, which is usually evident because the water in the bowl will be draining away slowly, you could try removing the blockage with a toilet brush or a strong stick that won’t break.

Whether or not this solves the issue, we recommend throwing the utensil away afterwards.  

No joy? Turn the water off

If the blockage is persistent and no water is draining away, it’s best to turn off the water supply to the toilet. This can often be achieved by finding the shutoff valve, which is attached to the bottom of the cistern. Turn the valve clockwise until it can’t go any further and the water should now be off.

If you can’t find the valve or want to be absolutely certain that the water isn’t flowing, you can turn off the stopcock for the entire house, which might be found in the kitchen or perhaps a hallway.

Use a plunger

If you’ve tried as much as you can with a toilet brush or a stick and the blockage remains, it’s time to use a toilet plunger. Some people don’t own a plunger – if this is the case, it might be worth asking a neighbour if they have one or even making a trip to a supermarket or hardware store. Having a toilet plunger in the home going forward is always a wise investment of time and money, as you never know when you may need it next.

Toilet plungers are designed to perfectly fit into the bottom of the toilet bowl, creating a tight seal that allows you to use strong suction movements to shift blockages. And when we say power, we mean it, so begin by gently moving the plunger up and down to prevent the forming vacuum from spraying dirty water upwards. Once all of the air is out of the plunger, you can do this more vigorously.

Sometimes this will fix the problem immediately and other times it will take longer, depending on how large the blockage is and its location within the pipe. Then there are occasions when even a plunger can’t get the job done, in which case it’s time to take a different approach.

Should I use chemicals?

When a blockage is this severe, you should steer clear of using chemicals such as bleach or drain unblockers, as they will most likely have very little effect. They’ll also just sit there in the toilet bowl and mix with the existing contents, which can make the problem even harder to deal with for homeowners and professionals alike, sometimes resulting in a larger drain repair.

What’s more, if you’ve added chemicals you should refrain from using the plunger again, as corrosive and harmful substances could splash up and hit your skin, eyes and hair. Put simply, once chemicals are in the bowl, there’s nothing more you can do.

It’s time to call TWC Drain Care

If you’ve followed all of the steps above and the blockage is still in place, call TWC Drain Care at any time of day or night on 0333 344 1931 for same-day repairs in most instances. Our drainage specialists cover the whole of Yorkshire, North Lincolnshire and the North East, so we’re never far away. There’s no call-out charge and we’ll give you a free estimate on the phone, making it a service that’s both effective and affordable.

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