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Plumber Costs: Unclogging a Toilet Drain (& How to Save When Getting Quotes) 

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Can you imagine going through your day without a functional toilet? Or to be more specific, a toilet that isn’t flushing properly? The moment you discover that your toilet is clogged, you know it’s going to be a crappy day (no pun intended).

Since you’re reading this, we’re assuming that you’re in this very predicament. Well, there’s no time to waste. It’s time for you to take the necessary steps to unclog your toilet drain.

On this page:

But before we proceed, let’s address one question that’s probably running through your mind right now:

Why does my toilet keep clogging?

Toilets get clogged for many possible reasons. Here are the most common ones:

Trap is clogged

Right below the toilet or any plumbing fixture is a trap that separates it from the drain line. Its most important function is to stop foul-smelling sewer gases from escaping into your home’s interior. It also traps debris or objects being drained from the toilet bowl. If large or solid objects somehow get into the drain, they tend to get trapped in the P-trap, resulting in toilet clogs.

Flapper is stuck

The flapper is what facilitates the flow of water from the tank to the toilet bowl. It’s the toilet component that makes flushing possible in the first place. When stuck, a flapper is restricted from opening entirely. This weakens the flushing mechanism, leading you to believe that the toilet is clogged.

To get the flapper unstuck, look first for the chain connecting it to the flush lever and untangle any knots. With this done, make sure that the chain extends all the way and that it allows the flapper to open entirely.

Blockage in the drain line

Material buildup, unsurprisingly, is the most common cause of toilet clogs. The usual culprits include bathroom wipes, condoms, cotton balls, disposable diapers, grease, tampons, dental floss, cotton swabs, and more.

Here’s the thing: most people are aware that these items don’t belong in the toilet, but some throw them in there anyway thinking it won’t do any harm. Some just don’t care.

To prevent toilet clogs, tell your family members not to dump non-flushable items into the toilet. The only material they should throw in there is tissue paper, and nothing else.

You’re using a first-gen low-flow toilet

If your toilet is quite old and it’s getting clogged all the time, chances are you’re using a first-generation low-flow toilet. These early models lack the pressure needed to clear your toilet’s trap and drain line, resulting in frequent blockages. If your toilet was manufactured during the 90s, you’re probably using one of these first-gen low-flow toilets. Replacing your toilet is not necessary, but if you’re not up to minimizing toilet use, you’re better off using a newer model instead.

Plumbing vent is clogged

The plumbing vent regulates the airflow in your plumbing system, preventing the formation of air vacuums that could lead to clogged drain lines. In other words, it facilitates the flow of water and waste through your drain pipes. Without that regulating mechanism, your pipe or drain line becomes an ideal environment for debris buildup.

Sewer line issues

If your toilet keeps clogging up despite your multiple efforts to clear it, your main sewer line is probably blocked. A clogged main sewer line is a plumbing issue you can’t afford to ignore. For one thing, it can affect all your plumbing fixtures, not just your toilet. Second, it can pose health risks to you and to anyone living in the same household.

Most sewer line issues are caused by tree roots. No surprise there considering that roots are naturally drawn to moisture. In such scenarios, the best option is to hire the services of a professional plumber.

Will a toilet eventually unclog itself?

If you only have a partial clog, then you have nothing much to worry about. After all, it’s still draining water, albeit slowly. The point is that it still gets the job done.

But it does make you wonder: Will the toilet eventually unclog itself? Should I wait it out?

And to that, our answer would be: Well, yes.

But there’s a but. Because while it’s possible that whatever’s causing the blockage will eventually dislodge itself, it does beg the question: Why risk it?

Why not deal with the issue while it’s still manageable? Why wait for the partial clog to become worse?

If you insist on waiting it out, you might be in for a nasty surprise.

How to fix a toilet that keeps clogging up?

A toilet that keeps clogging up can be a handful. Thankfully, most toilet clogs can be addressed without the services of a professional plumber.

The right method depends on the nature and severity of the clog. So without further ado, here are the different ways to unclog a toilet.

Use a plunger

Most clogs can be fixed with a toilet plunger. To get a toilet plunger that works like a charm, go for one that has an extension flange at the end. This is because extension flanges are designed to fit into toilets perfectly. Things are bound to get messy, so make sure to wear a pair of rubber gloves before you start.

Here are the steps to unclogging a toilet with a plunger:

  1. Make sure there’s enough water in the toilet bowl (just enough to submerge the plunger’s bell end). Pour more water if it’s still lacking.
  2. Ensure that the flange is extended all the way from the plunger’s bell end. Position the plunger so that the cup seals the rim of the drain hole completely.
  3. Gently push the plunger into the drain until the air is forced out. Once a seal is established, pump the plunger vigorously to redirect the air pressure down the drain. Continue doing this for at least 20 seconds. Once the plunger has been pulled out, the toilet should be already unclogged.

Note: If the toilet is still clogged after performing the steps above, alternate between gentle strokes and vigorous plunging motions.

Use baking soda and vinegar

If using a plunger doesn’t do the trick, a cleaning solution made of baking soda and vinegar will. So buy one of each in your nearest supermarket if you don’t have those yet.

Have the following ready:

  • One cup of baking soda
  • One cup of vinegar

Here are the steps:

  1. Make sure the toilet bowl is half-full before proceeding. Add some hot water if the water level in the bowl is low. If the water level is more than half-full, scoop some of the water from the bowl and dump it somewhere else until you have the right amount.
  2. Pour a cup of baking soda into the toilet bowl.
  3. Gradually pour the cup of vinegar into the bowl. Do it slowly to avoid spilling some on the bathroom floor.
  4. Let the mixture fizz for around 20 minutes.
  5. Observe.

The water will start to drain as soon as the clog has been eliminated. Changes in water pressure may also cause bubbles to form on the surface. Flush the toilet to finish the job.

Note: Repeat the entire procedure if the toilet is still clogged.

Use a dish soap

Believe it or not, some clogs can be cleared using nothing but dish soap and hot water. This cleaning solution is perfect for partial clogs.

The steps are:

  1. Pour one-half cup of dish soap into your toilet bowl. Wait for the dish soap to sink to the bottom of the bowl.
  2. Allow the soap to sit at the bottom for 30 minutes.
  3. Heat up a gallon of water in a pot (don’t boil because you may damage the toilet if the water is too hot)
  4. Slowly pour the gallon of hot (but not boiling) water into the bowl. Do this slowly so as not to overflow the bowl. While doing this, observe closely as the soap starts to unclog the toilet.
  5. If the above steps didn’t work, repeat them again. You can do it at night so you can observe the results in the morning.

Use a drain cleaner

If dish soap isn’t enough to do the job, it’s time for you to use a more potent solution—a chemical drain cleaner. Bear in mind, however, that drain cleaners contain chemicals that can be corrosive to animals, pipes, and the environment, not to mention humans. To be on the safe side, use enzyme-based drain cleaners instead.

There are many types of drain cleaners, so make sure that you’re using one specifically made for clearing toilet clogs.

Drain cleaners vary in potency, which is why it’s recommended that you refer to the manufacturer’s instructions printed on the back of the product before using one.

Use a toilet snake

If the clog is far too deep inside the drain for a plunger to reach, a toilet snake probably will. A toilet snake (or snake auger) is a plumbing tool specifically designed to snake its way through the curves of your toilet’s pipes, allowing you to dislodge or eliminate blockages.

Here are the steps to unclogging your toilet using a toilet snake:

  1. Position the toilet snake so that the auger bit is touching the mouth of the drain.
  2. Once the auger is in position, start cranking the handle clockwise. This cranking motion extends the snake’s length, allowing you to reach far deep into the drain line. Toilet snakes are made of flexible coils, allowing them to wend their way through the pipe’s contours.
  3. Once you feel some resistance, pull the snake back a bit while rotating the handle counterclockwise at a 45-degree angle, and then crank it clockwise again.
  4. Give the snake a little twist as you keep shoving to loosen up whatever’s blocking the drain.
  5. Crank the handle counterclockwise to pull the snake back.
  6. Check the auger bit at the end to see what you’ve collected
  7. Repeat the steps above until the clog has been completely cleared.

Tips to prevent clogging your toilet

As the old adage goes, prevention is better than cure. The same rule rings true for clogged toilets. Here are things you can do (and not do) to prevent clogs.

1. Take it easy on the toilet paper

Who doesn’t need toilet paper? Some people, however, get carried away in their efforts to clean up, causing toilet paper to accumulate in the drain line, which eventually leads to clogs. So save yourself the trouble. Take it easy on the toilet paper and use only the amount necessary to get things done.

2. Clean your toilet with vinegar and baking soda regularly

If you want to keep your toilet’s drain line free of clogs, you must do it in a way that won’t damage its porcelain surface. A non-toxic cleaning solution such as vinegar and baking soda works like a charm in such situations.

3. Always keep the toilet lid closed after use

Non-flushable items may find their way into the toilet bowl if you’re not careful, even more so if you have kids around the house. You don’t want your daughter’s squeaky duck to end up in the drain line. Thankfully, there’s an easy way to prevent stuff from being dropped into the toilet: always keep the toilet lid closed after use. That’s it.

4. Don’t dump non-flushable items into your toilet bowl

You are only allowed to dump two things into the toilet bowl: tissue paper and human waste. As already stated in an earlier section, you mustn’t dump feminine products, diapers, dental floss, baby wipes, and paper towels in the toilet.

5. Do a diagnostic test every six months

If you want your toilet’s drain line to get rid of waste efficiently, you need to regularly check if your toilet’s mechanisms are functioning properly. To ensure that everything’s in proper order, do this consistently: remove the tank lid and flush the toilet. Is the flushing sound any different from before? Is the flapper sealing the opening of the flush valve at the right moment? Whatever irregularity you find in the toilet’s mechanisms, you must carry out the necessary repairs while the issue is still manageable.

6. Always keep a toilet plunger around

If the water’s draining slowly when you flush, chances are you’ve got a partial clog. Thankfully, partial clogs can be addressed immediately using a toilet plunger. to your trusty toilet plunger, you can fix the partial clog in a few minutes. No bathroom should be without it.

Should you call a plumber?

If all else fails, calling a plumber is the way to go. After all, going the DIY route can only do so much, and there will be times when you have to leave it to the professionals.

Here are good reasons to call a plumber:

  • You don’t know what you’re doing. The worst you can do is to try to fix something you know nothing about. It makes more sense to pay someone who can do it for you.
  • You suspect the clog is a symptom of a bigger problem. Is the clog persistent? That’s a sign you’re dealing with something more complex than a simple clog. It could be a sewer line issue or a permanent damage in the pipes, and those are issues you can’t DIY to your heart’s content.
  • The toilet is backing up water. Once the toilet has started backing up water, you know you’re not dealing with a simple clog. While should be enough to do the job, you run the risk of damaging your drain line or toilet if you don’t know how to use it. Having a professional do the unclogging for you helps you do away with such risks.

Cost for a plumber to unclog your toilet

We get it: You’re dying to hire a professional plumber, but the potential costs are giving you pause. To better manage your finances, you need at least a rough estimate of the costs involved.

Allow us to break that down for you.

If you’re dealing with a minor clog (meaning the clog is only partial and not too far deep down the drain line), prepare to pay between $50 and $150. These jobs only require the use of a toilet plunger or a cleaning solution, after all.

If the clog is solid and too far down the toilet, plumbing costs will range between $300 and $500. Such jobs typically require the use of a toilet auger (or toilet snake).

In cases where a short section of drainage pipe needs to be replaced, the costs will fall between $1,000 and $2,000.

If the entire drainage system is severely damaged and needs to be replaced, be ready to pay a hefty amount. Of course, the amount largely depends on numerous factors, such as size, design, and materials used. If you want a more conservative estimate, $5,000 will be enough. But if your home is prone to basement flooding, installing a sump pump to go along with the new system is recommended, adding a few more thousand dollars.

Getting quotes from competing contractors

Now that you’ve reached this far into this article, chances are you’re at least half-convinced to hire a professional plumber to unclog your toilet for you.

There’s no shortage of competent contractors out there. It’s just a matter of finding the right one.

So, how do you find the right one?

For starters, don’t hire the first contractor you talk to. Instead, get as many quotes as you can. The more choices you have, the better chances of you finding the contractor who can address your specific needs and charge you a fair rate.

Getting quotes can be time-consuming, though. And since some contractors charge for quotes, it’s going to put a little dent in your wallet as well.

But how would you like to do away with all the necessary legwork in one fell swoop?  We’ve got just the thing.

All you need to do is fill out our form above. Once the form has been submitted, you’ll receive up to 4 quotes from competing contractors in no time. It’s all free, and you’re not in any obligation to accept any of the offers if none are to your liking.

Want to have your toilet unclogged once and for all? Fill out our form now!

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