Unblock Without PlungerThis wouldn’t be a plumbing website without talking about a toilet clog. After all, a clogged toilet is one of the most common problems a plumber can face on the job, and common household items found in the kitchen, closet or medicine cabinet can often fix the problem just as well as a plunger would.

Before tackling a toilet clogging disaster, the first step is to always turn off the water supply to the toilet. This will limit any excessive water damage from being done. With that out of the way, it’s time to tackle the problem.

The dishwashing liquid method is a popular alternative to the plunger. Add a few squirts of dishwashing liquid to the toilet bowl with a pot of hot water. The dishwashing liquid combined with heat can break up fatty deposits and dissolve grease. Let the solution make its way to the clog for about 20 minutes, and then flush.

A substitute drain cleaner for dishwashing soap is to use baking soda and vinegar. Combining a gallon of hot water (not boiling, as this can crack the porcelain) with a cup of baking soda will produce surprising results. Vinegar and baking soda combine to form a powerful chemical process comparable to harsher commercial products without the long term side effects of erosion.

For harder obstructions, another trick is to use a common wire coat hanger. Using pliers, straighten the wire as much as possible. Sometimes giving it a little bend at the end of the wire will allow it to slide into the crevices where the clog may have taken residence. Once the hanger has reached the clog, give it a good whirl to break up the deposits. If possible, use a plastic coated wire hanger, as metals can mar the surface of the toilet bowl.

A last resort method is to use a wet/dry vacuum. Be sure the vacuum can handle water, as most vacuums can become easily damaged by trying to hold water. Wrap an old towel or shirt around the hose to create a seal in the drain. Stick the hose into the drain, and suck up the water and with any luck, the obstruction clogging the toilet.

If none of these methods produce viable results, it’s best to consult with a professional. Unclogging a toilet is a problem plumber’s face every day, and underlying problems might call for the toilet being removed from the base to figure out if there is a deeper issue in the piping.