How to unclog a toilet

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Unclogging a toilet can be a challenging task, but when you have the right tools and the right advice, it's a breeze. Julie Sussman and Stephanie Glakas-Tenet, who Dare to Repair, show you exactly how to unclog a toilet without flooding your bathroom.

How to unclog a toilet
  1. Find the toilet shut-off valve located behind the toilet near the floor, and turn it off. If you cannot find it, go to your main water valve in your home and shut it off, typically located in either the basement or utility room.
  2. You either have a gate valve or a ball valve. With a gate valve, turn it to the right to turn it off. With a ball valve, lower the lever so that it is perpendicular to the water line.
  3. Take a plunger and plunge rapidly over the drain hole about 12 times. If needed, add more water to the toilet bowl.
  4. Plunge rapidly again another 12 times if needed.
  5. If the toilet still isn’t unclogged, you will need a toilet auger. Insert the corkscrew end of the auger into the drain hole. Turn the handle clockwise. As you’re turning the handle and feeding the auger into the drain whole, the obstruction is being pushed through the drain.
  6. Once you think the clog is dislodged, flush the toilet to test.
Transcript STEPHANIE:  Hi, I’m Stephanie Glakas-Tenet.

JULIE:  And I’m Julie Sussman. We’re the co-authors of the Dare to Repair book series.

STEPHANIE:  And were here on howdini to show you how to unclog a toilet.

JULIE:  But you have to act quick if your toilet is overflowing. Got to find the toilet shut off valve located behind the toilet near the floor.

STEPHANIE:  Right you want to shut that off immediately of your going to have more water coming in and toy definitely don’t want that. If you can shut that valve off then you need to find the main water valve and shut that off. It’s typically located in the utility room or in the basement closest to the front of the house.

JULIE:  You’ll either have a gate-valve of a ball valve. With the gate valve, turn the valve to the right to turn if off. Righty tighty lefty lucy. If it’s a ball valve what you want to do is lower the lever so that it is perpendicular to the water line.

STEPHANIE:  Everyone knows that you need a plunger to unclog a toilet, but do you know which one? This one is actually for a sink, and your not going to use that one on a toilet. This one is for the toilet, but there’s one thing you have to do before you start, you have to take the lip out for better suction. Now what you are going to do is plunge rapidly over the hole about twelve times.

JULIE:  And you may need to add more water to the toilet bowl.

STEPHAINE:  Yeah, and then you might need to plunge rapidly again another twelve times.

JULIE:  And if that doesn’t work then its time to pull out the trusted toilet auger. Before inserting the toilet auger into the drain hole you want to make sure that you take this rubber tubing and bring it down the spring. Te reason you do this is you do not want to mar the toilet bowl, porcelain is very sensitive. You insert the corkscrew end of the auger into the drain hole, and then you just turn the handle clockwise like this.

STEPHANIE:  This works every time.

JULIE:  And as you feed it into the drain hole, what your doing is either pushing the obstruction through, that’s usually the objective, or you can pull it back out if it is something critical.

STEPHANIE:  We recommend you push it through.

JULIE:  To the neighbors house.

STEPHANIE:  Once you think you’ve unclogged it there is a final test. Ready, yeah it works.

JULIE:  The toilet auger will cost you ten dolors, a lot less then a visit from your friendly Plummer.  
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  • Julie, Stephanie Sussman, Glakas-Tenet

    Julie, Stephanie Sussman, Glakas-Tenet Authors, Dare to Repair Julie Sussman and Stephanie Glakas-Tenet knew a thing or two about keeping a house running, and fixing things when they broke, so they decided to pour their knowledge into a book to share with others. The Dare to Repair book series was launched. more about this expert »

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