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How to Unclog a Toilet

There's never a good time to plunge a toilet, but clogs seem to happen at the most inopportune moments. Fortunately, you can clear most clogs yourself without having to pay a plumber. Follow these steps, and you should have the problem cleared up before the in-laws come over for dinner.

1. Flush only once. If it's not flushing the first time, don't flush again. This will cause more water to be pumped into the toilet bowl. If you let the water in the bowl sit for a while, it will usually drain at least a little bit, although it may be very slow.

2. Put on a pair of rubber gloves. Toilets are inherently unsanitary places to work, but a good pair of rubber cleaning gloves will protect you from the germs within.

Protect the floor

3. Protect the floor. What's worse than a clogged toilet? An overflowing toilet. Prevent or stop overflow quickly to avoid a disgusting mess and damage to your house. Place newspapers on the floor. Minor splashes and spills are bound to occur when you're unclogging the toilet. Several layers of newspaper around the toilet will help protect your floor.

4. Add a little dish soap (a few squirts) to the toilet. Be careful about using this method in an apartment complex, though.

Pour half a bucket of hot water into the bowl

5. Pour a pot or half a bucket of very hot water from about waist level into the bowl. The water should not be hotter than a hot tea you can drink comfortably, but not boiling. A little water won't work, you want to raise the temperature of the water passing around or pressing on the clog. Let that sit for a few minutes. If the water has not gone down, do it again or move on to the plunging method.

Water weighs 8.35 pounds per gallon and the extra weight will help to clear the clog, or erode it away if some amount of water is getting through. But be very careful. Turn off the water supply to the tank and make sure the tank is empty before filling the bowl. If the bowl is full of water and the handle gets pushed, you will have a flood around your feet.

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