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Clearing a Clogged Toilet

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There's never a good time for a clogged toilet, but it always seems to happen at the worst times imaginable. Fortunately, most clogs can be cleared quickly and easily with the plumbers' friend, a rubber plunger. By following these steps, you should be able to get that misbehaving toilet back up and running in no time.

First things first, make sure you use the right tool for the job. The idea is to use the plunger to push water, not air, so you want one that is going to form a tight seal. The small, cheap plungers with suction cups don't work well on most clogged toilets. They don't seal well, and they're more likely to shoot water back up into the bowl rather than push it down the drain. Your best bet is a large, heavy-duty plunger with a ball-shaped cup or a fold-out rubber flange.

Make sure there is enough water in the toilet bowl to cover the rubber portion of the plunger. In most clogged toilets, this shouldn't be an issue. In fact, if your toilet bowl is filled to the rim, you should probably give the water level 10 minutes or so to drop before plunging. If, for some reason, there isn't enough water in the bowl, do not flush the toilet again. Instead, use a pan or pot to pour water from the sink into the toilet bowl until the level is high enough.

Insert the plunger into the toilet bowl and press down slowly, making sure you get a good seal over the drain. Push in and out with the plunger as vigorously as you can, while taking care to keep the seal tight. Pushing creates pressure against the clog, while pulling creates suction in the drain. Eventually, this action should dislodge the clog and allow the toilet to drain. If the clog is loosened but doesn't come free, you can repeat the process. Leave the plunger in the toilet, and add water to the bowl. You may have to do this several times for particularly stubborn clogged toilet.

There are several other home remedies for dealing with a backed up toilet, such as snaking a wire hanger through the drain or pouring hot water into the bowl. However, if your blockage is so severe that a plunger can't help, it might be time to call in a plumber to deal with that clogged toilet.

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