Clearing a Clogged Toilet

You can generally clear a clogged toilet with a plunger, otherwise known as the plumbers’ friend. Make sure that there’s enough water in the toilet bowl to cover the rubber suction cup, then work the handle of the plunger up and down. If there isn’t enough water in the bowl, do not flush the toilet; flushing a clogged toilet will just cause the bowl to overflow. Instead, bring a pan or pot of water from another source to supply the water you need to cover the plunger cup. There are two types of plungers, and the one with a bulb-type head is especially effective for toilets. Some types have a fold-out head that’s designed for toilet use.

Usually, whatever is blocking the toilet drain is not very far away. If the plunger’s action doesn’t dislodge the clog, you can try to hook the blockage and pull it free. A wire coat hanger can sometimes do the job, but it is really a substitute for the closet or toilet auger.


Before using the plunger, make sure there’s enough water in the toilet bowl to cover the suction cup. Pump the plunger to dislodge the clog.

The auger has a long sleeve or tube to guide the snake and auger hook into the trap. A crank on the end enables you to turn the hook in the drain or trap. Here’s how to use it.

Step 1: Insert the auger into the toilet trap and turn the crank until it feels tight. This means that the snake has twisted its way to and into the blockage.

Step 2: When you pull in the auger, you should be able to remove whatever is clogging the toilet. If you aren’t successful, try the closet auger several more times. In some cases, you may have to resort to pushing a regular plumbers’ snake through the blockage.

Step 3: When all else fails, the toilet may have to be removed from the floor and turned upside down so you can get a blockage. This is not what anyone would call an easy job, so you should give the simpler methods as good a try as you can before you remove the toilet. But removing the toilet is not beyond the capabilities of the average do-it-yourselfer, and this procedure is explained in the forthcoming section.


The closet auger has a long sleeve to guide the snake and auger hook into the trap. A crank enables you to turn the hook and dislodge the blockage.