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Here's How to Figure Out Why Your Toilet Keeps Clogging

Trying to fix a clogged toilet by hand - Williams Comfort Air Heating, Cooling, Plumbing & More

When a toilet keeps clogging, there are several potential causes of this issue. What you flush down, problems with your drain lines, and issues with the toilet itself are all possibilities. The Indianapolis plumbers of Williams Comfort Air detail the reasons a toilet keeps clogging and shares solutions to help you avoid this problem at home.

What’s to Blame When Your Toilet Keeps Clogging?

Frequent toilet clogs are a sign something is not right – the issue typically has to do with your plumbing, your toilet, or what goes down it. Common causes when a toilet keeps clogging include:

  • You have an older model low flow toilet
  • Items that shouldn’t be flushed have been flushed
  • Too much toilet paper use
  • The toilet trap is clogged
  • The toilet vent is blocked
  • Your sewer line is clogged

Our Indianapolis plumbers review the common reasons a toilet keeps clogging, what you are able to do to remedy clogs, and when you need professional services.

Older Low Flow Toilets

If your home is equipped with early model low flow toilets, the fixture itself could be the reason your toilet keeps clogging. Some older low flow toilets simply do not have the pressure needed to consistently push material through the trap and drain. Poor flushing pressure leaves material behind which results in constant clogs.

What to do:

Replacing your older low flow toilet is a sure-fire way to eliminate constant clogs caused by lack of flushing pressure. However, if replacement is not an option, reduce the amount of toilet paper you use and materials flushed to help prevent toilet clogs.

Low flow toilets manufactured in the mid-1990s are typically first-generation models, which are prone to this clogging issue. If your toilet is an older low flow model, check out new low flow fixtures and make upgrades throughout your home to increase flush pressure and reduce toilet clogs. Your plumber is able to help you select new toilets that conserve water and install them in your bathrooms.

Flushing Non-Flushable Items

The only items meant to go down your toilets are human waste and toilet paper. When households begin to send other types of paper or hygiene products down with a flush, a toilet keeps clogging because it is not meant to dispose of these items. 

This type of constant clog issue affects all sorts of households. Many people have been misinformed about what can and cannot go down the toilet – so-called “flushable” wipes are some of the biggest offenders plumbers see today! Some people have gotten into the habit of flushing all bathroom waste down the toilet for disposal, including Q-tips and cotton balls, so the toilet keeps clogging. Non-flushable items are a common clog hazard in households with young children who are curious about the toilet.

What to do:

If a clog forms due to improper items in the drain, use a flanged plunger to dislodge the clog. If this does not work, use a toilet auger to break up material and clear the drain.

Take the time to remind your family members what goes down the toilet drain and what needs to be kept out. If you have young children, teach them the toilet is not a play place and their toys and other things are never to be put into the toilet and flushed. 

Excessive TP Use

Yes, toilet paper is made to go down the drain without causing clogs – when you use proper amounts. When too much toilet paper is used, it doesn’t dissolve properly, so it sticks in the toilet or drain lines and the toilet keeps clogging.

Also, some types of 2-ply toilet paper don’t always dissolve well, which leads to clogs. While it feels more comfortable to use, it creates more problems for your household.

What to do:

Most consumers use 8 to 9 squares of toilet paper per wipe, when in fact, 3 to 4 squares will do the trick just fine! Encourage household members to reduce their toilet paper usage to prevent toilet clogs. As you potty train young family members, it is helpful to mark the proper length of toilet paper on the wall or cabinet down from the dispenser to help them use the right amount each time.

Instead of using ultra plus toilet paper, try folding your toilet paper sheets to create the thickness you desire. Always fold toilet paper for use rather than balling it up, as this practice contributes to clogs. With more conscientious use of your toilet tissue, many toilet clogs are prevented.

Clogged Toilet Trap

Most homeowners know about a sink’s P-trap, but do you know that your toilet has a trap, too? Instead of a P shape, the toilet’s trap is an S shape and sits between the toilet bowl and the drain line. Just like a sink’s P-trap, the purpose of the toilet’s trap is to catch objects and prevent them from moving to the drain line to cause a clog.

Due to its purpose, this is a common area of the fixture where items get stuck. Excess waste and toilet paper or non-flushable items can become lodged in the toilet trap after they are flushed. When there is a significant mass stuck in the toilet trap, the toilet keeps clogging as normally flushed material is more likely to catch and clog.

What to do:

If you believe a blockage sits in your toilet’s trap, try plunging the toilet to move the clog along. Use a flanged toilet plunger to force water through the trap and move the clog. 

If plunging does not work, a toilet auger is another option to clear the clog. Insert the auger into the toilet drain and move it forward until you hit resistance – if resistance occurs just beyond the toilet bowl’s drain, a clog in the toilet trap is likely. Rotate the auger to break up clog material and grasp on to pull the remaining material out of the drain. If you are unable to clear the clog, it’s time to call a plumber for drain cleaning services.

Blocked Toilet Vent

You probably do not realize it, but your home’s toilets are connected to a vent that exits your home, typically through the roof. The toilet vent allows fresh air to enter your home’s plumbing system, which increases the pressure of flushes. 

If a toilet vent becomes blocked, the toilet loses flushing pressure. With poor pressure the toilet keeps clogging more frequently, and clogs become a consistent problem. A blocked toilet vent creates other household issues, such as gurgling noises from the toilet, slow drainage throughout the home, and sewer odors indoors.

What to do:

Toilet vents commonly become blocked at their opening on the roof, or where they connect to your sewer line inside the home. If you suspect a blocked toilet vent is the cause when a toilet keeps clogging, your first step is to check the roof.

  1. Use a ladder and a spotter to safely climb onto your home’s roof and locate where the toilet vent penetrates through the roof (it’s usually above where your main bathroom sits).
  2. Remove the vent cap to check for debris that have entered the vent. Reach into the vent to remove any debris you are able to touch.
  3. Use the spray nozzle on your garden hose to send water down through the toilet vent. Some blockages are cleared this way, but if the water backs up out of the vent opening, the blockage has not moved through the line.
  4. Insert a toilet auger into the toilet vent – your auger should be at least 20 feet long or it may not reach to the vent/sewer line connection. Rotate the auger to bust through the obstruction and then remove the auger.
  5. Flush some water down the toilet vent to verify the blockage is cleared. If water continues to back up, you need the help of a plumber.

Clogged Sewer Line

Some clogs are able to fully exit your plumbing fixtures and individual drain lines, but become trapped in the home’s main sewer line. Clogs in the sewer line cause problems with drainage across the entire home, and are difficult to correct on your own.

Sometimes, sewer lines become clogged due to outside sources, such as tree root penetrations, sewer line breaks, and sewer line infiltrations. These issues make it so your toilet keeps clogging, as they impact drainage and your plumbing system’s ability to move waste out of your home. Sewer line repairs are needed if this problem is present.

What to do:

Unfortunately, sewer line clogs must be corrected by a plumber. Ignoring sewer line clogs means your toilet keeps clogging and eventually, more damage is done to your home’s plumbing system. If you suspect a sewer line clog, you need to call a plumber to schedule drain cleaning services.

Prevent Toilet Clogs with Williams Comfort Air

If your toilet keeps clogging and you are unable to identify the issue causing this consistent problem, it’s time to call in the pros. Our licensed Indianapolis plumbers assess your home’s plumbing system to find the source behind a toilet that keeps clogging, and perform the professional services needed to eliminate the issue. Whether you need fixture replacement, drain cleaning, or sewer line repair, we are here to help with all your plumbing needs. Call Williams Comfort Air today to schedule plumbing services for your Indianapolis home.

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