Not sure how to unblock a toilet? No worries, we're here to help

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Dealing with a blocked toilet isn't a job anyone wants to do, but with a little know-how you'll be ready for the job...

  • Your toilet draining properly is important to protect your house from water damage
  • You can unblock a toilet with the help of a plunger, but other household items can work too.
  • If you cannot deal with the blockage yourself, call a professional.

It's not nice, but it happens, so it's best to be prepared

This guide will run you through the equipment you’ll need to unblock a toilet, with or without a plunger. Deal with the obstruction with minimal mess and get some handy tips on how to prevent it happening again.

How do you unblock a toilet?

With the right equipment, unblocking a toilet should be straightforward. Using a plunger is the easiest way and will help shift most obstructions. It may get messy so be prepared before you start!

What you'll need before you unblock a toilet:

A plunger will remove most toilet blockages and can be purchased from hardware stores.
Rubber gloves will protect you and make the job as hygienic as possible. 
A bucket or plastic bag to dispose of the obstruction that you will eventually remove. 
Towels or newspaper to protect the floor around the toilet.

How do you unblock a toilet with a plunger?

Step 1: Close the flapper
You need to stop the toilet bowl filling up with more water to prevent potentially expensive water damage. To do this, you need to close the flapper. Lift the lid of the tank behind the toilet and look for a drain stopper attached to a chain, close this and you will prevent any more water filling the bowl while you work. Make sure you remember to open this once you are finished.

Step 2: Locate the blockage
Prepare the area by putting old towels or newspaper around the toilet to help protect your floor. You might also want to put the extractor fan on or open the window to get rid of any unpleasant smells. If you can see the blockage, you may be able to just pull it out. Put on your rubber gloves and see if it’s possible to dislodge it. If you can, put it in a bucket or plastic bag and dispose of it appropriately. 

Step 3: Create an airtight seal
If the blockage is out of sight or reach, you are going to need the plunger. The key is to create an airtight seal around the toilet bowl. Try running the plunger under hot water before you start to make the rubber head more supple. Place the plunger over the hole, push down gently on the plunger before you release. Do this with increasing force and speed, you will need to plunge vigorously to dislodge all or part of the obstruction. 

If the water levels start to recede, try dislodging the blockage with your hand again instead of trying to flush it. Be prepared for plunging to take up to 15 minutes. 

How to unblock a toilet without a plunger

A plunger should be able to dislodge most blocked toilets, so it’s worth having one in case it happens. However, if you don’t have one, there are some other household items you can use if you’re trying to unblock a toilet without a plunger:

1. A wire coat hanger can be used to dislodge a blockage. By unwinding the coat hanger, you can fashion it into one long piece of wire. Curve the end slightly so that it can bend around the u-bend. By poking gently, you may be able to move the blockage but be careful not to scratch the bowl. 

2. If it is a blockage caused by a build-up of grease and fat, then you may be able to use hot water to melt it away. Combine hot water with some drain cleaner, bleach or whatever cleaning product you have and pour down the bowl. Leave for 15 minutes and flush to see whether this has worked. Do not use boiling water as this may crack the toilet bowl and cause further damage.

3. If you find that isn’t working, then you can try pouring in one cup of baking soda and two cups of vinegar into the toilet bowl. The chemical reaction will cause a fizzing that can work to clear softer blockages. 

When to call a professional

If you have tried the above methods and nothing seems to be working, or if the toilet starts to overflow you will need to call a professional to solve the issue. You want to avoid pushing the blockage further up the pipe or even causing water damage to your property.

How to prevent your toilet from blocking

1. Avoid flushing sanitary products, nappies, wipes and cotton buds down the toilet.
2. When using toilet paper, be mindful not to use too much as this could cause a blockage.
3. Close the lid of the toilet to prevent items dropping in accidentally 
4. Consider using specialist cleaning products to prevent a build-up of limescale 
5. If you haven’t got one already, purchase a plunger!

A blocked toilet can lead to expensive damage if left untreated, with home insurance from LV= you can protect your home from the costs uncured from these unexpected nuisances.