Blocked Toilet?

What to do before you call a plumber

Before attempting these DIY fixes at home please note that you do so at your own risk. Always hire a professional to carry out repairs to avoid damaging your plumbing. SC Duncan do not accept any responsibility for damages caused by taking the advice contained in this blog post.

Do you have a blocked toilet? Unsure that it’s a big enough job to require a professional, or like me are you on a budget?

First, ask yourself … do I own this toilet? If you’re renting its going to be much easier to just contact your landlord/letting agency and have them send a plumber out to you, you’ll also keep your security deposit. Do you own your home? Is your landlord dragging their feet about getting that plumber out to you? Well here are some quick fixes that might just work before you call in a professional …

Try to Identify the type of blockage:

Water draining away slowly – good news, the blockage hasn’t fully formed yet and you can clear it before it turns into a problem

Little or no water in the bowl after flushing – this is down to an issue with air circulation in the waste pipe

The dreaded overflowing toilet bowl – this is a complete block, don’t flush it,  just leave it and wait for the water to drain out of the bowl. If it won’t drain then try to move as much water as you can into a separate container – like a bucket or something.


If you are having trouble identifying the type of blockage, call a plumber, better to be safe than sorry.

Clearing Blockages:

With Baking Soda and Vinegar – baking soda and vinegar are a long-standing cleaning dream team, normally I would us these to clean up limescale and soap scum in the shower, but when this solution is dumped into a toilet and left to do its job for about 10 minutes it can help clear blockages caused by waste built up in the pipe. Its also great for drain blockages with the added bonus of deodorizing the pipes.

 Pour in Some Hot Water – Another simple fix, especially for partial blockages. Make sure the water level of the toilet bowl is low before you go throwing hot water in, remove excess water first if you have to. Pour some washing liquid into the bowl, wait 10 minutes and then poor 2-3 litres of hot (but not scalding) water into the toilet. Pouring water into your toilet causes your toilet to flush and the heat of the water can dissolve some blockages caused by toilet roll or waste. If the water level falls then it has worked, if not it might be time to fetch a plunger.

Chemical Unblockers – Don’t use these if your toilet is fully blocked, it’ll just mean you’ll have to plunge or snake the toilet with the chemicals sitting in it – this can irritate your skin, eyes or even respiratory system. These are best use for partial blockages that are not caused by a hard object and work by liquefying materials blocking your pipes.

Use A Plunger – The solutions mentioned above will generally work for a partial blockage but sometimes you just need to give it some welly. First off you’ll need to get the right plunger for the job, the flat ones that spring to mind when you think of a conventional plunger are good for sink and shower drains but there are better solutions on the market for use on toilets. Go for a plunger shaped like this one …


Next, locate the shut off valve, this is a little tap shaped valve that connects the wall to your toilet – see the photo below. If the valve is hard to turn spray it with some WD40 and try again, be careful with it though because they can break if you use too much force. No shut off valve? If you have a float inside of the cistern you can use something to prop it up to prevent the cistern from filling. No float? You’ll still have a flapper, this is a circular stopper attached to chain that you’ll see near the bottom of the cistern. The idea is just to stop water filling the tank so it doesn’t make a mess when you start plunging.


Before you start plunging, make sure the plunger is submerged in water and it is completely covering the pipe. You can add water from the sink to the toilet bowl if you need to. Start by slowly and firmly pushing down to create a seal and then pulling up sharply to dislodge the obstruction. Once you plunge a bit faster you should start to see the water draining, it can take a while to fully unclog a toilet so keep going! It might take a few rounds if there is hair or wet wipes causing the blockage.


Use a Toilet auger

A toilet auger (also known as a plumbers snake) is a long fexible cable with a handle on one end and a corkscrew tip on the other, they’re coated with rubber to protect the toilet from scratches.

To use the auger insert the corkscrew end into the toilet, keeping a hold of the handle, and push it as far into the U-bend as you can, if you can still see the cable then keep pushing. Next, rotate the handle slowly, don’t use too much force or the cable can coil back on itself.

Turn the handle in one direction until you feel some resistance, if you can’t turn it anymore then you’ve reached the blockage. You can now pull the cable out with the obstruction or use the snake to break up the obstruction into smaller flushable pieces.

If the cable can go deeper than before and you aren’t feeling any resistance, then you can remove it by rotating the handle in the opposite direction. If the toilet still isn’t draining, then repeat the process until it does.

Still blocked? Time to call SC Duncan, you’ve done your best.


8,193 Responses