Nothing is worse than realizing your toilet is clogged. Not only is it uncomfortable and embarrassing but it can be a hazard to your health. Almost everyone owns a toilet plunger but maybe no matter how many times you try you just can’t get your bathroom unclogged. What do you do then?
You could call a plumber but sometimes it can take awhile to get an appointment and emergency plumbers aren’t exactly cheap. Thankfully, if you follow the directions in this article you can learn how to use a toilet auger yourself and hopefully be able to fix your problem in a jiffy!
What is a Toilet Auger?
Toilet augers are plumbing snakes that are used to unclog toilets (obviously). They usually consist of a flexible, metal or rubber shaft that can be pressed into the drain of the toilet and are particularly useful for clogs that are deeper in the pipeline where plungers aren’t strong enough to do anything. Augers have a pronged tool on one end and a crank on the other that can help dislodge any blockages. It’s helpful to know how to use an auger (view on Amazon) in case the issue ever arises and thankfully they’re usually pretty cheap.
Follow the directions below to learn how to unclog your toilet cheaply and efficiently.
Step 1: Find the Clog
The first thing you’re going to want to do is get a pair of cleaning gloves for sanitary reasons. The most common clog is restricted to the toilet and direct pipes to the bathroom, usually caused by a buildup of toilet paper or because an item that shouldn’t have been flushed was dropped into the toilet (extremely common in households with small children).
This is the type of clog that you should be able to take care of yourself with the proper tools. However, if you notice dirty water is also building up in your bathtubs, showers, and sinks along with the toilet then this is an indication of a sewer problem and needs to be handled by a professional plumber.
Step 2: Visible Blockages
This isn’t exactly a fun task but the first thing you’re going to want to do is remove any visible blockages in your toilet. Use your gloves and get a garbage bag (or two if you want to double-bag them) and remove anything that could be part of the clog. You can also use a plunger to try to dislodge as much as possible but know that plungers may push everything down into the pipes which may be a problem if an item that was lost in the toilet is something you want back (like your keys).
Something else you can do to loosen anything clogging the toilet is by putting dishwashing soap and hot water into the bowl which can melt things like toilet paper that could be blocking the way. Tip: make sure the water isn’t boiling because it’s possible to crack the porcelain and that would cause an even bigger mess.
Step 3: The Toilet Auger
It’s time to use your new toilet auger if the other steps didn’t solve the problem (make sure you’re still wearing your gloves). What you’re going to want to do is stretch the auger out fully and place the end with the pronged mechanism into the toilet and push it into the drain until the rubber bend is resting in the crook of the toilet. Now you’re going to turn the handle on the crank end that’s out of the toilet. Turning the crank extends the cable out of the toilet auger and pushes it into the curve of your toilet (you either have an s-curve or a u-curve, don’t worry it works on both).
Step 4: The Cable
Make sure you’re turning it slowly because it’s possible for the cable to get tangled if you go too fast and then you just have another blockage inside the toilet. You want to do your best to crank the tube all the way into the pipeline but it’s possible for the auger to encounter resistance when it hits the blockage.
If this happens it’s important that you don’t put a lot of pressure on the clog because it can just cause the wire reverse and come back out towards you. The best thing to do if this happens is wiggle the auger and start cranking in the other direction from what you’ve been doing. You should be able to get past the blockage and extend the cable all the way in.
Once you’ve reached the point where you know your cable is as far as it can go, start turning your handle in opposite directions and be expected to do this several times. The metal prongs should start breaking up the blockage and disintegrating it into the pipes. The way you can tell that you have totally broken up the blockage is when all the water has drained from the toilet. If there is still water in the bowl then you will have to keep working until it’s gone.
Step 5: Clean Up
You’re going to want an old towel or some newspapers nearby that you can rest the auger on when you’re done. After you’ve finished breaking up the blockage and all the water has drained from the bowl you’re going to pull the cable out of the toilet until it’s all the way out. You will see some debris from the toilet so make sure you set the dirty section on the old towel or newspapers until you can clean the auger.
Before cleaning, you’re going to want to test the toilet and see if it flushes. If it fills up but the water doesn’t flush then there may still be something blocking the pipes and you may have to repeat the auger process multiple times until you’re toilet flushes again. Tip: it can’t hurt to put some dishwashing soap into the toilet as you repeat the auger process which can help with the mess and the smell.
Once you’re sure you’re done with the auger you can clean it by soaking it in disinfectant and soap (or water and distilled vinegar) but don’t leave it for too long or it can rust, five minutes should be fine. You can use a toilet brush to scrub the cable and make sure you get all dirt and debris off; then you can clean the inside of the tube with a pipe cleaner. Rinse your auger in warm, clean water and dry it off. Don’t put it away while it’s still wet or it can rust.
You Need to This About Your Toilet!
If you’re noticing problems with your toilet, you need to know what’s causing the issue and if you’ll need to get the toilet repaired or replaced. Having a working toilet is crucial for any home, and fixing it is just one form of home improvement, but there are many more.
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Now that you know how to use a toilet auger hopefully you will be able to solve any issues that may arise in the future on your own quickly and easily!