A guide to fixing your blocked toilet, including the cost, and what the job might entail.
Gather an understanding of what’s required to unblock a toilet that has become clogged with waste and determine the best methods for different blockages.
If you hire a plumber to come and unblock your toilet, it’ll typically cost £45-£60. But if it turns out that the blockage is further down in the pipe work or is more persistant and takes a lot longer, you could be charged more at around £100.
You will need to unblock a toilet if it seems to have a higher than average water level or is visibly blocked. To do this, you may need to use a simple plunger or a combination of plungers, tools and specialist chemical unblocker to free the obstruction.
Toilets can become blocked for many reasons, and that means that there are different levels of obstruction that will need different methods to relieve them.
Initially, you need to try to locate the blockage. If it's much further down the system, then you're unlikely to do anything to remove it at the toilet end. Elevate the drain cover to see if the chamber is filled with water. If so, the obstruction is further down the soil pipe. If the chamber is clear, the blockage is in the soil pipe, between the toilet and chamber, or the pan. You can attempt to remove any obstructions in the pipes by utilising specialist drain rods or improvised devices like a wire clothes hanger. If this doesn’t work, you’ll need to contact your water and waste company and let them deal with it.
You will know if your toilet is blocked if you try it once and it doesn’t flush properly. This means that it is well and truly jammed, and no additional flushing is going to help you out. If you know there’s something wedged in your toilet such as a child’s toy, a bottle of something that’s fallen from those in your bathroom; you may be able to get it out using a twister hook made out of the coat hanger. The wire can be made to go around the U-bend but is still strong enough to pull any obstruction out. If you are unsure of what is blocking the toilet, you could try the reach for your gloves and pull it out. Although, if it’s not working, then it’s time to use a plunger.
You could use a regular plunger that is designed to fit flat over plugholes or invest in a proper toilet plunger. The critical variance between a standard plunger and a toilet plunger is the presence of an extension collar, which is created to fit inside the toilet u-bend hole. This collar makes a tight seal in the toilet and strengthens the suction power of the plunger and makes it much more effective at removing even tightly jammed blockages. If you want to proceed with a regular plunger, you need to ensure that you get the best seal possible. Once you have established a good seal, you need to pump the handle in and out to create an alternate pressure and vacuum on the other (blocked) side of the plunger. Start doing this softly and build up power if you need to. If you start going at this too violently, you may find that dirty water squirts out of the side of the plunger!
In most cases, one plunge will be sufficient to shift the blockage, but you may find that you have to have several goes. You need to make sure that you have the head of the plunger completely submerged as air bubbles behind the seal will compress, taking away much of the force of the pumping. If, after several attempts to shift the blockage with a plunger, it has failed to move, you may have to try using the hooked clothes hanger to see if you can pull parts of the blockage out. Once you have done that, try to use the plunger again, and this should then start to shift the blockage. If this does not move your blockage, you may have to resort to using a plumber’s snake.
A plumber’s snake, or drain auger, is a device that reaches down into pipes to eliminate the clog causing blockage. Snakes make up the middle ground between standard household plungers and calling professional help. If you’re dealing with a block too persistent for a plunger, then a snake is the best possibility to clear it out yourself. A plumber’s snake is an extended, flexible, metal cable with a small auger or uncoiled spring on one end and a handle on the other. The auger on the snake looks like a corkscrew. Home plumber’s snakes are typically around 15 metres long. The auger on the end can be twisted to entangle with the blockage and then pull it out.
Once you have pulled out the blockage, flush the system through with buckets of hot water and several flushes of the toilet.
Generally, you will need several items to help you unblock a toilet, with the most common being:
If you are unblocking an obstruction from a toilet, you may want to clean out the waste pipe using an expanding chemical cleaner.
Here is a list of commonly asked questions regarding unblocking a toilet.
You can help lower the risk of blockages by using only limited amounts of toilet paper when you need it and do not let fabric-based wipes go down the loo. These can quickly become clogged and resist many methods of unblocking. You can also preserve your drains in good order by using bleach and periodically pouring drain unblocker through the system.
If you hear gurgling or gulping noises coming up from your shower, bath, sink or from the bathroom floor then your drains may already be partly blocked. If water is emptying away slower than normal, if your toilet is taking an extended time to flush or the water level in it is rising or falling below usual levels, these are forewarning signs of a blockage.
The electrical portion of the work will require carrying out by a qualified professional, and for that reason, can be signed off by that engineer. Such work is Part P notifiable when carried out in an area of increased shock risk, i.e. bathroom, kitchen, outside area such as a car charging point.
Typically, an auger will cost you between £12 and £36. Even low-cost ones are effective at removing blockages.
Toilet unblocker liquids are corrosive to accumulated muck but are safe to use on all British standard fittings, whether they are plastic, porcelain, or metal.