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How to snake a clogged toilet

If your toilet is clogged and a plunger is not strong enough to remove the clog, you will need to use a toilet auger (or toilet snake as they are commonly known). Snaking a toilet can be tricky, even if you have had experience doing it before, and can cause damage to your toilet if done incorrectly. 

Low Flow Toilets

Low flow toilets are notorious for being difficult to unclog with a plunger for the following reasons:

  • The lower water level does not provide enough water to be able to create pressure behind the clog to push it through
  • Low flow toilets usually have an oval shaped area at the bottom that prevents a traditional plunger from being able to create the water-tight seal needed to plunge clogged matter free

As a result, you will likely find that you need to use a toilet snake to unclog a low flow toilet in your home.

Steps for Snaking a Toilet

  1. Look under the toilet to try to get a sense of how your toilet piping works. Different toilets can have different shapes, which will determine how you need to position the snake.
  2. Pull the snake back in so that the end of the coil is the only part showing. The rest of the snake needs to be within the plastic housing so that the porcelain of your toilet is protected. Otherwise, there is a high probability that you will scratch or crack your toilet.
  3. Put the snake into the toilet positioned so that the coil end points away from you and into the hole of the toilet. This can be difficult to see if there is paper down there, so it is best to position it properly before putting it down in the water.
  4. Then, with the snake positioned like a golf club in relation to your body, hold the top of the snake's housing shaft with one hand and push the snake in with the other hand on the handle.
  5. Once the snake is all the way in, the handle will bump up against the housing piece. Turn the snake clockwise several times and then counter-clockwise several times. Depending on the severity of the clog, you may need to do this slowly at first. Repeat as needed to remove a stubborn toilet clog.
  6. If you find that you need to use significant force, stop and carefully remove the snake from the toilet. You do not want to jam the snake in or force it to turn if it is very difficult to do so because you may be running up against a component of your toilet that can be damaged by overly rough treatment.
  7. When you are done, leave the snake in the toilet and retract the coil using the opposite motion as before. Once the coil is completely retrieved, take the snake out.

Remember, snaking a toilet needs to be done slowly and with the proper steps and approach for your specific toilet, or you can scratch of crack your toilet in the process. Some clogs are substantial enough that even if you do everything right, you will not be able to remove them because the toilet auger that you have is not long enough or strong enough for the job. Emergency plumbers have professional toilet augers that are much more robust than what is available at your local hardware store.

If you have a clogged toilet, give us a call and we will have a licensed plumber come out and remove a clog like a professional: 1 (800) 674-9130.

Additional resources:
Pro tips for unclogging a toilet
Common toilet problems
Situations that require an emergency plumber