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Plunging 101: How to Plunge Your Toilet Before It Overflows

toilet plunging

Whether it happens at your own home or someone else’s, an overflowing toilet is one of the most panic-inducing experiences. You may be able to fix a simple clog, but do you know what to do when the water level keeps rising and threatens to flood the bathroom?

Fortunately, it’s not hard to stop that overflow and take care of the clog once you know what to do.

How to Get the Bowl to Stop Filling

As soon as you notice the water level beginning to rise, you need to take action to stop the water flow:

Never Flush It Again

When faced with an overflowing toilet, panic makes most of us try to flush again and hope the water recedes. This will only increase the chance of flooding, however. The clog is keeping the water from going down, so you’re just adding more to the bowl.

Stop the Toilet from Filling Up

Once you see the water level rising, open the lid at the back of the tank and close the toilet flapper. This round rubber piece will have a metal or chain lever and sends the water from the tank into the bowl. When you push it closed, it seals the tank and keeps the water out of the bowl.

toilet over flowing meme
If you suspect the water bowl will overflow, wait to flush. Open the tank and get ready to close the flapper, then flush with your other hand.

Find the Toilet’s Water Shut-Off Valve

If the toilet has a water shut-off valve, this is a great way to stop the water from filling up in the tank. The shut-off valve is usually located near the space where the toilet mounts to the wall. Turn it clockwise to shut the water off completely.

Prepare to Plunge

Once you get the situation under control, you have the time to try to plunge the clog and get the water flowing again:

Empty Some of the Water, If Needed

If the bowl filled a lot before you were able to turn it off, you may need to remove some to plunge without causing a flood. Put on rubber gloves and use a bowl or bucket to take some water out. You only need a few inches to submerge the plunger without pushing the water level over the edge.

Use the Right Plunger

Most bathrooms have a standard plunger on hand, but it’s not ideal for unclogging toilets. Flange plungers, which have an elongated flange at the bottom, are a better choice to create a tight seal in the drain hole to really get at that clog.

how to use a plunger

Warm Up the Plunger

A cold, stiff plunger doesn’t create as good of a seal as a soft, pliable one. Run the plunger under some hot water to get it softened and start with a better seal.

Use the Plunger Correctly

There’s an art to using a plunger the right way. Most people focus on plunging downward, but pulling the plunger back up is a big part of loosening the clog with a back and forth movement.

When you get a tight seal, use strong, consistent up and down strokes without losing the seal. Don’t plunge haphazardly out of panic! You have to keep the seal. After a few times, you can try to flush again and see if the water drains. With some clogs, you may see the water drain as soon as it moves.

If it starts to overflow again, repeat the process of cutting off the water supply to the bowl and plunge again. Keep going until you loosen the clog – it may take a few tries.

For Tough Clogs, Try Natural Remedies

Want a plumbing secret? Sometimes, plumbers will help the clog removal with remedies like hot water and dish detergent. These two ingredients help the clog loosen up and make it easier to move. All it takes is a few inches of hot water and a generous squirt of dish detergent. You may even loosen the clog without any plunging.

Another option is baking soda and vinegar, but that can take some time. You mix one cup of baking soda and one cup of vinegar together and pour it into the bowl, then let it sit for eight hours. The chemical reaction between the two may break down the clog completely or make it easier to move.

What If the Clog Is a Foreign Object?

Plunging a clog made of waste and toilet paper is one thing, but if the clog is caused by something that shouldn’t go in the toilet – such as a child’s toy or a toothbrush – you don’t want to flush again. Plunge to dislodge the item, then take it out of the toilet. If you can’t get it out, call a plumber to snake the drain.

If your toilet gets clogged often, or you have a stubborn clog you can’t move, contact us at Adeedo to schedule an appointment!

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