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Top 5 Reasons Why Your Toilet is Clogged


Dealing with Frequent Toilet Clogs?

People don’t give the toilet the credit it deserves. Your throne is much more than a porcelain bowl of water. It’s a sophisticated plumbing fixture that depends on a complicated system of valves and gravity to send waste to the sewer.

What Causes a Toilet to Clog?

When a toilet clog occurs, it isn’t always because something too big went down the drain.

Here's a quick rundown of possible reasons your toilet is clogged:

  • Your main sewer line could be clogged or damaged, especially if you have problems with multiple toilets
  • You have an older low-flow toilet, which struggle to produce enough pressure to properly flush waste
  • You're flushing items you shouldn't, such as flushable wipes, paper towels, tampons, or dental floss
  • You have a blockage in your toilet trap or "S-trap," which works similar to the "P-trap" of a sink
  • You have a clogged plumbing vent, where gas escapes and air enters helping to maintain proper air pressure

Let's look at each of these below in detail.

1. The Main Sewer Line Has a Clog

Sewer CleaningMaybe the problem isn’t with your toilet at all. If you experience frequent clogs in multiple toilets, that’s likely due to the main sewer line. The main drain and sewer line could be broken or packed with waste, non-flushable items and toilet paper. Tree roots puncturing the pipe could be another culprit. Issues with your main drain and sewer line are nothing to put off. They can threaten the health of your family. Contact a licensed, experienced company to inspect your sewer line right away.

2. You Have an Early Model Low-Flow Toilet

Low-flow toilets were introduced in the 1990s in response to water-conservation efforts. They were well intended, aiming to use less than 1.6 gallons per flush, but they were poorly designed. Early models lacked the power to properly clear the bowl, requiring at least two flushes to get the job done. Instead of saving water, these toilets were using more than their standard-flushing counterparts. If you have one of these first-gen low-flow toilets, it might be time to upgrade. Today’s low-flow toilets with the WaterSense label are more efficient and have adequate flushing pressure.

3. Someone is Flushing Things that Shouldn't Be Flushed

Man unclogging toilet with a plungerPut simply, if it’s not waste or toilet paper, it has no business being in your toilet. Here is a list of things that shouldn’t be flushed:

  • So-called flushable wipes: They do not disintegrate like toilet paper, leading to clogs in the toilet or sewer pipe.
  • Paper towels: While they seem similar to toilet paper (and are occasionally used in a pinch), paper towels are more durable, made of higher quality wood pulp. They’re designed to absorb spills. All of which makes paper towels strong. They won’t breakdown like toilet paper. Throw paper towels in the trash, not the toilet.
  • Tampons: They do not dissolve fast, plus they can’t be processed by wastewater-treatment facilities. Toss ’em in the trash.
  • Dental floss: These strings can get tangled up with other debris, wreaking havoc on the sewer line.

If any one of these things is causing a clog, it’s best to have a pro come deal with it.

4. You Have a Blocked Toilet Trap

A toilet trap is a curved section of pipe built into the toilet. It’s filled with water to prevent sewer gases from entering your home. Any number of things can get stuck in the trap. It’s usually nothing a plunger can’t dislodge.

5. You Have a Blocked Plumbing Vent

damaged roof plumbing ventThere’s more to your plumbing than faucets, shower heads and pipes. Most modern plumbing systems have vents on the roof to help water flow through the drain and allow wastewater gas to escape. When vent stacks become clogged with leaves and debris, your plumbing will respond with slow-moving drains, gurgling sounds or standing water in your sinks and bathtubs. This is a problem that will need to be addressed by a professional plumber.

Why Does My Toilet Keep Clogging?

If you've tried troubleshooting your clogged toilet problems on your own and are still struggling to find a solution, it's time to call in a professional. More than likely, you have an issue with your drain lines or a clogged sewer that is impeding the flow of wastewater and causing your system to back up. If it seems like you're always needing to plunge your toilet, or that multiple flushes are needed to completely clear the bowl, it's probably time to have your sewer lines inspected. If you're in the Salem, Oregon area, Evergreen Plumbing & Mechanical LLC can help. We've been helping area homeowners with toilet clogs for years!

Call Evergreen Plumbing & Mechanical at (503) 714-7004 or contact us online to request service in Salem or nearby.