Maintaining your home includes completing many tasks, some of which you might not really want to do. Falling into this category is unclogging the toilet. A blocked toilet can cause overflow, flooding, bad odors, and drainage problems in the future. Therefore, this is something that you need to tackle as soon as possible. One way in which you might do this is by using a toilet auger. Here is what you need to know about how to use a toilet auger.
What is a Toilet Auger?
A toilet Auger is known by many names, according to Angie’s List. These include toilet snake, plumbing snake, water closet auger, and plumbing auger. This is a tool that is used to unclog toilets and to remove obstructions from the drain. It has an auger bit at one end and a crank handle at the other. The middle section is a piece of long flexible material, which is usually metal.
Why Would You Need to Use a Toilet Auger?
A toilet auger is used to unblock your toilet. The reason that a toilet becomes clogged is usually that there is an obstruction in the way. This might be a build-up of toilet paper, a foreign object, or a sanitary item. A toilet auger is usually used when a plunger has not worked to remove the blockage. Similarly, if chemical drain unblocking fluids have not worked or you do not wish to use chemicals, then you might opt to use a toilet auger for the job. People will also use a toilet auger to remove a blockage instead of hiring a plumber or drain cleaning service. This saves you both time and money, while also being a more convenient option. Furthermore, you may have to wait until someone can come and fix the toilet, but if you use a toilet auger you have an immediate solution.
How Does a Toilet Auger Work?
The flexible shaft of a toilet auger passes through the u-bend and into the drain to locate the blockage. You can use the crank handle to operate the auger bit, which allows you to remove the blockage quickly and easily. It works by rotating the cable into the drain opening using a screwing action. Toilet augers have enough cable to reach into the trap configuration in the porcelain body of the toilet bowl, and this is where most blockages occur. Some can also reach beyond this to the main soil sack. Most will not reach as far as the main sewer line.
Why Is it So Important to Unclog a Drain?
Nobody likes messing about inside a toilet, but it is really important that you unclog your toilet as soon as you notice a blockage. ACC Storm and Water Damage says that you should do this straightaway for the following reasons:
- Hygiene- A blocked toilet is unhygienic, especially if it causes flooding as urine and feces can seep over your bathroom floor.
- Odor- A blocked toilet causes a bad odor that can take hours, and sometimes days, to get rid of after you have unblocked the toilet. The longer you leave the blockage, the worse the smell will get.
- Overflow prevention- If a blockage is not dealt with, then the water cannot drain away and this can cause overflow and flooding. In turn, this will lead to water damage.
- Reducing future problems- Blockages that are not dealt with will only get worse. What began as a simple blockage that you could easily remove yourself can quickly become a serious blockage that will need the attention of a plumber or specialist drain company.
Can You Unclog a Toilet with a Toilet Auger Yourself?
If you do not want to get the plumber out or you cannot afford to do so, then it is easy to unclog a toilet yourself using the following step-by-step guide.
How to Use a Toilet Auger
The Spruce describes how to use a toilet auger using the following steps:
- Pull up the handle so that the cable end is close to the bottom of the auger tube’s curved end to make feeding the tube in easier and to stop the toilet bowl from getting scratched.
- Hold the toilet auger housing with one hand and use the other hand to crank the handle.
- Gently crank the handle to work the cable into the toilet drain. Do this slowly so that you do not apply too much force as this can prevent the cable from moving through the drain and to double back on itself.
- You may find it necessary to reverse the cable’s direction several times to help it move through the drain easily. Do this by cranking one way until the cable stops moving, then switching to the other direction.
- Continue feeding the cable into the drain until the handle is tight against the top of the auger’s tube.
- Once the cable has reached its full extension, rotate the cable several times.
- If you feel resistance, this usually means that the toilet auger has found the clog and forced through it.
- Now that the toilet auger has gone through the clog, you need to pull the auger back out. You do this by rotating the auger’s handle and pulling the auger backward.
- Once the toilet auger has been removed, check to see if the clog has gone by flushing the toilet.
- It is best to flush the toilet several times to make sure all the blockage has gone.
- If necessary, you can repeat the snaking of the toilet auger to clear any remaining blockage.
- If the blockage does not clear, it is possible that it is further down the drain system. Therefore, you will need to find an alternative point to use the toilet auger.
- Try using the auger from the branch clean-out fitting.
- Clean and dry the toilet auger before storing it away.
In most cases, using this method to unclog a toilet with a toilet auger will work. If not, you may need to use an alternative method or resort to getting in the experts.
Are There Any Precautions You Need to Take When Using a Toilet Auger?
Unclogging a toilet with a toilet auger is a safe activity, so you need to take very few precautions when doing this home maintenance task. However, it is recommended that you wear rubber gloves to keep your hands clean during the process. This is because the water can splash, and the water is often contaminated.
Can You Make Your Own Toilet Auger?
Plumbers and drain specialists recommend that you do not put anything homemade down your toilet and that you use only specialist tools or hire experienced people to do the job for you. However, circumstances may mean that this is not an option. If you cannot afford to buy a toilet auger or hire someone to come and unclog your drain, then it is possible to make your own toilet auger. According to Do-It-Yourself, you will need the following equipment to make the toilet auger:
- Semi-stiff steel cable the same thickness as the drill bit
- A powerful hand drill
- Metal wire cutter
- Measuring tape
You can then make your own toilet auger using these steps:
- Measure the amount of steel you need and cut the length using the wire cutters. The length of steel depends on the length of the waste pipe.
- Attach the steel cable to the hand drill. You can do this by slotting the steel cable over the fitting where the drill bits are normally fitted.
- At the other end of the steel cable, create a hook.
- Put on your rubber gloves before moving on to the next stage as the water may splatter.
- Shove the steel wire into the toilet and turn on the power for the drill.
- Spin the steel cable handle clockwise. You can also use your hand to spin the cable instead of your drill.
- Push the steel cable until you feel resistance as it reaches the congestion.
- Push down a little while spinning the cable and then pull back a little while still spinning to scatter some of the congestion.
- Keep pushing down and then drawing back a little at a time so that you scatter more of the congestion.
- Next, push through the final part of the congestion.
- Reverse the direction that you are turning the steel wire so that you can draw the congestion up to the front of the waste pipe.
- You will need to get either a bucket or bag ready, along with some old cleaning rags.
- As you yank the steel wire back through the congestion and draw the clogging to the front, wipe away any toilet paper or other substances from the wire and dispose of them into the bucket or bag.
- Repeat this process as many times as is necessary to remove the whole blockage.
- If you are unable to remove the blockage using your homemade auger from the front, access the drain from a different point and try again.
Are There Alternatives to Using a Toilet Auger?
A toilet auger is not the only option if you want to unclog your drains as there are many different solutions to this problem. The following are some of the alternatives suggested by Toilet Travels:
- Toilet plunger- A plunger creates suction, that helps to shift the blockage. However, there is a difference between sink plungers and toilets plungers, so it is important to use the right tool for the job.
- Chemical drain unblocking fluids- Chemicals work by disintegrating the blockage. However, there are some substances and materials that you cannot disintegrate using chemicals. It is important to note the there are some disadvantages to using chemical products. First, they are potentially hazardous to your health. Second, they are damaging to the environment. Finally, they can damage your pipes.
- A wire coat hanger- Straightening out a wire coat hanger is sometimes a quick, cheap and effective way to unclog a toilet. Push the hooked end of the coat hanger down the hole and wriggle it around. A useful tip is to put tape around the wire to prevent scratching your porcelain bowl.
- Vinegar and baking soda- Combining vinegar and baking soda will have a similar effect to using a chemical unblocking fluid as it will disintegrate toilet paper blockages. The advantage of using a mixture of baking soda and vinegar over chemical alternatives is that there are less negative impacts. So, it does not damage you, your toilet, or the environment. Furthermore, it is a cheaper option that expensive chemical drain unblocking fluids.
What If Using a Toilet Auger Does Not Work?
If you have tried using a toilet auger and it does not work, you should try some of the alternative methods of unclogging the drain yourself. If you have exhausted all the options without success, then you have no alternative other than to hire a plumber or drain specialist company. Contact them as soon as possible so that the problem is quickly resolved without causing further issues.
Using a Toilet Auger – The Final Verdict
A toilet auger is a useful tool that you can use to unblock your toilet yourself. This will save you the cost and inconvenience of hiring a plumber or using a specialist drain service. It is an easy tool to use to unblock your drains simply and quickly. This method has many advantages over the alternatives and will help you to avoid the many problems associated with a blocked toilet. In most circumstances, using a toilet auger is an effective tool, although it is not a guaranteed way to fix a toilet. In some situations, you may find it necessary to take further action and look for alternative ways to unclog your toilet.