When your toilet clogs, your first instinct is probably to think back to all of the unclogging advice you've heard over the years. The problem is -- a lot of this may be bad advice that could make the problem worse or permanently damage your plumbing. Here's a look at four bad pieces of unclogging advice that you should not follow -- and what to do instead.
What Not to Do
Use drain cleaner
Drain cleaner is not intended to be used in a toilet. Not only could it splash out and cause caustic burns on your skin, but it can also damage your pipes, leading to more extensive leaks and plumbing trouble in the future.
Dump Boiling Water Into the Toilet
This is not so dangerous as it is simply ineffective. When your toilet is clogged, it's usually filled with water already. By the time the boiling water mixes with the cool water, it won't be warm enough to work its way through the clog as intended. Plus, if you spill boiling water on the plastic components of the toilet, you could melt them.
Stand On the Toilet
Toilets are not designed to support a human's weight when it's not distributed across the seat -- as it is when you're in a seated position. If you stand on the toilet as you plunge, the toilet may crack and break underneath you, resulting in dangerous porcelain shards.
What to Do Instead
Use a Plunger
Use a plunger with a flange-shaped head, rather than one with a plain, bowl-shaped head. (These are for sinks.) Make sure the water level is over the head of the plunger, and position the plunger carefully so that its head fully encircles the opening in the toilet. When it comes time to plunge, try to move the plunger as straight up and down as possible. Don't worry about plunging quickly -- but do make sure you put as much force as possible into each stroke.
If the clog does not clear away with a plunger, then it is time to call a plumber. They can use a pipe snake to remove the material that's causing the clog. Since a snake can cause pipe damage if used improperly, it's best not to attempt this yourself. There's also a chance that the clog is found further down in the drain pipe, in which case a plumber will need to use special equipment to reach it. For more info, call a plumber in your area.