In general, clogging toilets are usually caused by one of three issues:
- Things are being flushed that should not be.
- There’s trouble with the toilet itself.
- There’s a problem with the drain line.
Let’s start with what should go into the toilet and what shouldn’t.
What should go in the toilet: human waste and toilet paper
What should NOT go in the toilet: everything else
The most common reason for clogging toilets is non-flushable items being tossed into the bowl. Tissue paper and paper towels are not made to dissolve as easily as toilet paper and should not be deposited into your toilet. Same goes for feminine products, cotton balls or swabs, and even those “flushable” wipes. Few of the “flushable” wipes on the market are as “flushable” as advertised and we often find them to be the culprit in drain/clogging problems. Sometimes we find toys or other random items causing toilet clogs that may have been dropped there by curious children.
On a related note, excess toilet paper use could also cause toilets to clog. Most of the time a few squares are sufficient to do the job. But many people use several times this amount, and some even compound the problem by wadding up a length of toilet paper. Also, two-ply toilet paper doesn’t dissolve as easily as single-ply, so try folding over two squares of single-ply toilet paper to add volume if you prefer.
We often find that the low-flow toilets installed in many homes 20 to 25 years ago have more problems with clogging than other types of toilets. Low-flow toilets are great for saving water and you may have been doing your small part to conserve water on our planet for decades. However, it may be time to install a new one with improved fixtures and technology that conserves even more water, while providing a far more powerful flush to more effectively move waste material through the drain.
Another common source of clogs may be found in the toilet trap behind the bowl. These traps are designed to stop accidentally flushed items (like jewelry) from flowing too far down the line to be retrieved. When items build up or get stuck in the trap, your toilet can clog with every flush. See the non-flushable items section above for the most common causes of trap clogs.
For the do-it-yourselfers out there, you can attempt to unclog your own toilet trap by using a flanged toilet plunger to push clogged material through the trap or by using an auger to break up tougher clogs. Like all DIY projects, know your limits, and know when to call in a professional to unclog and clean your drains.
Another issue that could lead to clogs is a stopped-up toilet vent. These vents are built into toilets to allow fresh air into your home’s plumbing lines, and to help your toilet build pressure for strong, clog-preventing flushes. You can tell if your clog is related to a toilet vent stoppage if your toilet gurgles, if it smells like sewer in the house, or if slow drains (other toilets, sinks or tubs) are an issue throughout the house. Since most toilet vents open onto a home’s roof, we do not recommend trying to fix these vents yourself unless you have experience doing so. If you suspect a clogged vent is your issue, it’s best to call Ben’s ProServ.
One of the biggest problems that can be the cause of constantly clogging toilets is a clog in your sewer or drain lines. Every toilet, sink, tub, and wash machine in your home has a drain line that leads to the sewer line that carries waste out of the home and into your municipal sewage removal lines or septic system. Debris from various sources can build up in the sewer line over time. The clogs that form in sewer lines can be formed by what goes down the drain lines from inside, and they can also be formed from outside your home when, for example, a tree root penetrates a sewer pipe allowing dirt and other debris to clog the line from outside. Sewer line repairs are jobs for licensed plumbers, who have the advanced imaging tools to diagnose and find the exact location of the issue, and the proper tools to fix even the most complicated problems.
If keeping things that don’t belong out of your toilets and using a plunger or auger doesn’t fix your toilet clog, it’s best to call Ben. The experienced, licensed, expert professionals at Ben’s ProServ will quickly determine what’s causing your recurring clog, fix it right, and get you and your toilet back into the proper flow. Call 856-347-3588 or visit BesttoCallBen.com.
Photo courtesy of Marco Verch