If there's one plumbing problem that almost every homeowner has faced, it's a clogged toilet. The first reaction for most people is to grab a plunger and start churning away. While that often fixes the problem, it doesn't in every case. Did you know there's a right way and a wrong way to unclog a toilet? Go about things the wrong way, and you could actually end up damaging your plumbing. Here's a look at two of the most common mistakes people make when attempting to unclog their toilets.
Mistake #1: Using a home remedy Search online for "tricks" and home remedies to unclog a toilet, and you'll find everything from baking soda and vinegar to soap. These methods shouldn't be used for a few reasons, though. For one, they're simply not effective methods. Baking soda and vinegar certainly will foam up, but that's not going to do anything to force out a clog. About the only home remedy that has some merit would be pouring hot water into the toilet bowl, but that shouldn't be your first line of defense as it's easy to splash that hot water on yourself, and it can quickly lead to an overflowing toilet.
Mistake #2: Not having the right type of plunger Picture a plunger, and the iconic image of a red, rubber, cup-shaped bowl on a wooden stick probably comes to mind. But that style of plunger is made for a sink, not a toilet! To unclog a toilet, you'll need a flange plunger, which is a plunger with an extension in the middle that fits down inside the toilet. This makes sure that you get the best seal and the most suction possible. The other style of plunger may get the job done, but if you want to make sure you're attacking the problem the right way, make sure you have the right tool.
Even if you make a point to avoid these two mistakes, sometimes a clog is just too much for a homeowner to handle. But since it seems like a "simple" problem, they'll continue to fight with the problem, trying method after method, and not getting anywhere. There are times when you'll need a professional plumber's help. If you've tried a flange plunger several times, the clog isn't budging, and the water isn't going down, let the plumbing service pros step in. Recognizing when you have a major clog can save you hours of frustration and keep you from damaging your plumbing.