Have you ever made the mistake of flushing paper towels down the toilet only to find yourself with a clogged mess? Fear not! Fortunately, you can take some simple steps to unclog a toilet filled with paper towels without calling a plumber.
This article will discuss how to unclog a toilet filled with paper towels. And prevent it from happening again.
Why are Paper Towels a Problem for Toilets?
The problem with paper towels is that they are designed to be durable and absorbent, which makes them great for cleaning up messes but could be better for flushing down the toilet.
When you flush paper towels down the toilet, they do not break down quickly like toilet paper, and they can get caught in the pipes, causing a clog.
If you’re flushing paper towels down the toilet, breaking this habit is essential to avoid future clogs.
Method 1: Plunge the Toilet
The first method to try when unclogging a toilet is using a plunger. A plunger creates suction that can dislodge and push a clog through the pipes. To use a plunger, follow these steps:
- Ensure enough water is in the toilet bowl to cover the plunger.
- Place the plunger over the drain hole and press down to create a seal.
- Push vigorously and pull the plunger for 20-30 seconds.
- If the water level in the bowl goes down, add more water and continue plunging.
- Repeat until the clog is cleared and the water drains freely.
Tips for Plunging
- Choose the right plunger: A cup plunger works best for toilets because it creates a better seal than a flange plunger.
- Don’t flush the toilet: If the water level is high, don’t flush the toilet, as this can cause the water to overflow.
- Wear rubber gloves: While plunging, to protect your hands from dirty water, wear rubber gloves.
- Plunge gently at first: If you plunge too vigorously, you can splash dirty water all over the bathroom.
- Be patient: It may take several attempts to clear the clog.
Method 2: Use a Plumbing Snake
If plunging doesn’t work, the following method to try is using a plumbing snake.
A plumbing snake, or a drain auger, is a flexible tool that can reach deep into the pipes to dislodge and remove clogs.
To use a plumbing snake, follow these steps:
- Insert the end of the snake into the toilet bowl drain hole.
- Turn the handle clockwise to feed the snake into the drain.
- Keep feeding the snake until you feel resistance.
- Turn the handle counterclockwise to break up the clog.
- Continue feeding the snake until the clog is cleared.
- Remove the snake and flush the toilet to clear the clog completely.
Tips for Using a Plumbing Snake
- Use the right snake: Choose a plumbing snake long enough to reach the clog but not so long that it gets stuck in the pipes.
- Be careful: If used incorrectly, a plumbing snake can damage the toilet bowl or pipes, so be gentle and take your time.
- Wear gloves: Protect your hands from dirty water and pipe debris while using the snake.
- Don’t force the snake: If it becomes stuck, don’t force it. Instead, try pulling it out and feeding it again at a different angle.
- Clean the snake: After using it, clean it thoroughly with soap and water to remove any dirt or debris.
Method 3: Use Dish Soap and Hot Water
If you don’t have a plunger or plumbing snake or prefer a gentler method, you can use dish soap and hot water to clear the clog.
Dish soap is designed to break down grease and other materials, which can help loosen the clog and make it easier to flush away. To use dish soap and hot water, follow these steps:
- Add a generous amount of dish soap to the toilet bowl.
- Pour a bucket of hot water (not boiling) into the toilet bowl.
- Let the mixture sit for a few minutes to allow the dish soap to work.
- Use a plunger to try to push the clog through the pipes.
- Repeat the process as necessary until the clog is cleared.
Tips for Using Dish Soap and Hot Water
- Use liquid dish soap: Liquid dish soap is more straightforward to pour into the toilet bowl than solid soap.
- Don’t use boiling water: Boiling water can crack the toilet bowl or melt the wax ring that seals the toilet to the floor.
- Be patient: It may take several attempts to clear the clog.
Preventing Future Toilet Clogs
Once you’ve successfully unclogged your toilet, preventing future clogs is essential. Here are some tips to help keep your toilet running smoothly:
- Use only toilet paper: When flushing, use only toilet paper and avoid flushing non-degradable items like paper towels, wipes, dental floss, or feminine hygiene products. These items can easily cause clogs in your plumbing system.
- Use less toilet paper: Use only as much toilet paper as necessary and avoid overloading the toilet with excessive paper. Using too much paper can cause clogs in the pipes.
- Flush frequently: Flush the toilet frequently, mainly if many use the same bathroom.
- Don’t flush non-flushable items: Place non-flushable items in a small trash can and continue placing non-flushable items in a small trash can in the bathroom instead of flushing them down the toilet. This includes baby wipes, feminine hygiene products, cotton swabs, and dental floss, which can all contribute to clogs in the pipes. By disposing of these items in a trash can, you can prevent them from causing any damage to your plumbing system.
- Consider a low-flow toilet: If you’re experiencing frequent clogs, consider replacing your older toilet with a low-flow model. Low-flow toilets use less water per flush, which can help prevent clogs and save water. Additionally, they are often designed to handle thicker toilet paper and other materials, which can help prevent clogs caused by non-flushable items.
Toilet clogs caused by paper towels can be a frustrating and potentially costly problem for homeowners.
Several effective methods exist for unclogging a toilet filled with paper towels, including plunging, using a plumbing snake, and using dish soap and hot water.
By adopting good habits and following preventive measures, homeowners can also prevent future clogs and maintain a healthy plumbing system.
Remember to use only toilet paper, avoid flushing non-flushable items, flush frequently, and consider a low-flow toilet if you’re