Have you ever flushed the toilet, only to have the water rise…and then not go back down? Have you ever flushed again, thinking that maybe everything would go down this time? If you have, you know what it feels like to watch the toilet water fill up, and you can probably remember the rising dread of wondering if it was going to overflow.

Worst. Feeling. Ever.

A clogged toilet is an awful thing. Whether you end up managing to unplug it yourself with a plunger or you have to call a plumber to come out for a visit, you may be wondering if there’s a way to stop it from happening in the first place. The answer is yes. In many cases, what you do can greatly reduce the amount of clogs you experience in your toilet. Here are some tips from our plumber in Kankakee about how to keep your toilet from clogging.

Low-Flush Toilets and Water Conservation

Unless you have an older house with fixtures that haven’t been replaced since before the 1990s, your home probably has low-flush toilets that use 1.6 gallons or less per flush. In 1992, the United States Energy Policy Act made it illegal for new toilets to use more than 1.6 gallons of water per flush. These toilets definitely do use less water and cut down on water bills.

However, one of the unintended consequences of the move toward more energy-efficient fixtures is that many toilets have reduced flushing power. When you have a large amount of solids in the bowl, having an ineffective flush is simply unacceptable. It’s never any fun to get a clog that requires you to have to get the plunger out, and sometimes you may even have to call a plumber if you’re unable to get it unclogged yourself.

Compensating for the Low Flow

There are several different possible situations that your low flow toilet might encounter on the way to a potential clog. Understanding all these scenarios is important to give yourself the best chance of preventing your toilet from clogging.

Amount of water in flush is insufficient to completely wash down all solids.

Clog prevention tips:

  • If your toilet has a dual-flush mode, be sure that you hold down the handle until the water has completely finished draining from the bowl in order to make sure your toilet does a full flush when there are solids in the bowl.
  • Get a toilet with a dual tank model that uses the help of air pressure (rather than just gravity) to empty the bowl.
  • Workaround: When you know that the amount of solids in the bowl are going to pose a problem for a potential clog, do this: Before you flush the toilet, fill a mop bucket with water. Press the handle to flush the toilet and then pour the entire mop bucket of water down the toilet bowl while it is flushing. This will give your toilet the little bit of extra assistance that it needs to flush correctly. (Only do this when you absolutely need to, not on every flush.)

Older drainage pipes in houses get clogged by solids further down.

This is an insidious one. We see this all the time in older homes with newer toilets. If your drainage system was built with the expectation of a higher water-to-solids ratio, then it’s possible that the solids do successfully clear your toilet, but then they get stuck further down. You can tell this is happening when the toilet bowl empties correctly but then fills back up to the “wrong” level (which may be slightly fuller than usual). This is a booby trap waiting to happen on the NEXT flush, when the toilet will probably back up.

Clog prevention tips:

  • Get a toilet with the maximum 1.6-gallon capacity and a dual-flush mode (if you don’t already have one)
  • Hold the handle down all the way for a full flush any time you have solds in the bowl.
  • Flush a second time if it looks like the solids passed successfully out of the toilet but got clogged further down. If the 2nd flush doesn’t empty correctly, use the plunger to clear the clog (much less gross when you’re plunging in relatively clear water with no toilet paper). The extra flush will also help to give your pipes the right water-to-solids ratio to clear the clog. (Again, don’t do this except when necessary to avoid wasting water.)

People are putting too much debris in the toilet.

Clog prevention tips:

  • Buy a septic-friendly type of toilet paper. This type of paper isn’t nearly as soft and cushiony, but it does break down much faster and can save you from clogs.
  • Demonstrate to your kids the right amount of toilet paper that they should be using.

When to call a plumber

Despite your best efforts, sometimes your toilet still might get clogged. It can happen to anyone. Once you do have a clog, the first thing you’ll want to do is to reach for the plunger. However, if the plunger doesn’t work, there may be a deeper problem.

  • A foreign item (such as an article of clothing) could have gotten flushed.
  • There might be a seemingly-unrelated cause (like a kitchen trap that has finally clogged shut).

If you have a stubborn clog that just won’t go down, don’t delay – call our friendly plumbers in Kankakee today! We’re there to help you get out of a stinky situation. Call us at (855) 220-5331.