There isn’t anything more embarrassing than a toilet clog, and many times a plunger just won’t cut the mustard. However, if you’ve read the plumbing info in the past you know we are big fans of keeping a toilet auger around. There are very few toilet clogs we have encountered that can’t be taken care of with minimal effort or stress with a 6ft toilet auger. So before you run to Google your local plumber, invest in a toilet auger first.
How To Use A Toilet Auger
Everyone has had that sickening feeling, you flush the toilet, the water quickly rises in the bowl and a range of emotions washes over you in a short time. Will the water pressure push the blockage down the trap before it overflows? Please let the water stop rising or God forbid you’re in a guest’s house. When facing a toilet clog that won’t budge, even after trying the silly cup plunger sitting next to the toilet (Cup plumbers aren’t meant for toilet clogs.), a toilet auger is a much a better bet for the job. A toilet auger is a tool that is designed to funnel itself through a toilet’s trap-way, to remove any obstruction or clog. The great thing about a closet auger is that not only can they clear the water closet trap way they can also remove a clog that has moved past the toilet into the waste line. If you have a 3ft toilet auger you can reach blockages about 2ft into the waste line, if you’ve invested in a 6ft toilet auger (Recommended) you can reach blockages about 5ft into the waste line. Why is a toilet auger so much better than a plunger? Because, many times when using a plunger all you’re doing is pushing the blockage past the toilet into your waste line. A toilet auger is breaking up the blockage so it can flow down the waste line.
Toilet augers are very similar to plumbing snakes, but they are a little different than an actual snake for removal of clogs. Snakes are usually outfitted with a coil or corkscrew-type of a tip to remove unwanted buildup and used in other devices than a toilet.
If you want to know how to use a toilet auger, you’re going to want to check out if its design is applicable for the clog and toilet’s plumbing structure.
Many augers may either have the following:
- A closed coil head to push through clogs
- An open coil head which hooks onto items
- A fixed head goes through narrower drains
You’ll want to know how to use a toilet auger in the event of a severely clogged toilet that is unresponsive, plungers, or other tools. Typically a toilet auger has an extendable flexible shaft with a protective guide tube, is constructed from metal, and has a crank handle at the end.
The length of a toilet auger may vary, so you’ll want to keep in mind the extent of a toilet auger’s reach when attempting to clear a toilet drain. Most toilet augers extend anywhere between 3 to 6 feet in length to remove clogs.
Extendable augers allow you to release more of the toilet auger’s cable into the toilet once you have it in position.
If a toilet auger has a steel cable core, it is more resistant to wear and tear and doesn’t leave you feeling like the auger is going to develop a kink or break off when it is in the toilet drain.
Some toilet augers may have interchangeable tips (Very rare) that allow you to switch up as needed to take care of the clog. Sometimes a clog needs to be pulled out instead of getting pushed through.
Utilize An Auger To Remove A Clog
After assessing the state of your toilet, you will want to break out your auger to tackle the clog. Make sure to keep a bucket close by in case of a mess. Having a bucket at hand is a better way to transport the auger after you use it on the toilet unless you like the idea of a tool dripping dirty water around the bathroom and house.
When setting up your toilet auger, you will want to have the cable pulled back into the tool, leaving only the head protruding through the tube. Insert the auger so that it is angled back and the head is facing up into the drain, to reduce leaving marks or damage to the toilet.
Set up your toilet auger so that the curved end is facing the direction of the drain. You will also want to give about 6 inches of slack with the cable between the space of the drain and the handle pipe’s end. Keep the auger’s screw taut before continuing.
Once you are sure that the auger is positioned in alignment with the drain, you need to push the cable through the toilet while turning it clockwise. Once you find that you can no longer turn the auger cable clockwise, begin pushing the cable forward.
Either you will feel the auger hook onto the clog, or it will push the clog through and break it up.
Once you hit paydirt, and the auger has made contact with the clog, you can remove it from the toilet drain. Feel free to apply the plunger to make sure that there are no residual materials that can cause another obstruction. Flush the toilet for good measure, and to make sure any dislodged clogs are removed.
Keep Your Auger Clean
After you remove the auger, it is best to clean it with bleach before you put it back into its tubing. To protect the auger from corrosion, it is helpful to wipe off the tubing with a towel before rewinding it into its original position.
A dirty and corroded auger is less likely to last for long, and in the event of a clog, it will have diminished performance.
Remember Some Key Points About Using An Auger
A toilet auger is a blunt force tool that requires some careful handling. Toilet augers can and will scratch up vitreous china easily, and if an auger cable breaks inside the drain or toilet, removal of the toilet may be the only solution to retrieve the broken portion of the auger. It’s important to note, let the auger do the work. You don’t have force the auger into the blockage by using extra muscle to crack on the handle. This tends to bind the flexible metal snake and can cause the rod to break or get bound up in the waste line.
It is possible to remove a toilet on your own, but you will have to be prepared with a new wax ring and a few other items to replace the toilet when done. If you do not feel confident about removing a toilet to retrieve an auger, do contact professional plumbing services.
When using a toilet auger, keep a few things in mind:
- Avoid excessive force when pushing the auger cable through, it may risk damaging the toilet or pipes. Use slow controlled motions to feed the auger into the drain, and remove it to prevent accidents. Depending on the design of the toilet auger, it may have the potential to recoil back and cause injury.
- If the toilet auger is unsuccessful removing the clog, you may want to call for professional plumbing services to come in and help. It is also helpful to keep some troubleshooting ideas in mind when using a toilet auger to clear a clog. If you want to know how to use a toilet auger, you’ll want to have some patience to get things done right.
Sometimes when using a toilet auger, you may encounter a toilet trap that opens up into a void. When faced with this scenario, it may feel like your auger is in a dead end area. It can feel like the auger is not doing its thing when used in older toilet models with a 5-gallon bowl, and the auger may not be getting far enough into the toilet trap to meet the clog. Hence recommending the longer 6ft version.
When it feels like the auger is going nowhere and you are fishing around, a drop head is a better fit. Be prepared to pull the auger back in reverse as needed, to push through to hook onto an obstruction before continuing to move forward. Don’t be tense, stay flexible, and consider changing the angle or direction of your approach. It is possible to cause damage to the bowl, trap, pipes, and the auger if not careful.
It is a good idea to partially flush the toilet to allow some of the water to clear the trap when using an auger. Doing this will enable you to see if the trap is clear and helps keep the cable clean before pulling out.
After using a toilet auger, aside from giving it a flush without anything in the bowl, it may be helpful to try flushing a small amount of toilet paper a few times. You want to make sure that there is no more build up, or that the drain is not slow to remove water.
Any sign of delay with flushing a few sheets of toilet paper may be a sign that there is still an obstruction in the toilet. If a toilet auger is unsuccessful with the removal of a clog, you may have to prepare yourself to remove the toilet.
Dealing With A Stuck Toilet Auger
Some toilets have narrow pathways, and when not careful, a toilet auger can become stuck. If a clog wasn’t troublesome enough, getting a toilet auger out without damaging the porcelain, or breaking the tool can seem daunting.
As you unwind an auger into the toilet, you’ll want to be flexible enough to unwind the auger in the opposite direction in case it becomes snagged. Moving an auger gradually into a drain, and carefully guiding it into the toilet drain is critical to success.
If your auger becomes stuck, you may have to alternate between unwinding and winding the tubing and put up with extending and re-extending the device several times. Eventually, this technique usually frees up the auger pretty quickly, allowing you to pull it out of the drain. Sometimes the tubing can fold in on itself or develop a kink.
In the most extreme cases, you may have to remove the toilet from its base.
Rent An Auger Rather Than Buy
You may be able to rent an auger if you’re in a pinch, however, because they are relatively inexpensive the cost of a rental is probably pretty close in price to purchasing.
Be aware of any stipulations attached to the use of the auger, any incurred risks or damages to the toilet auger or your property, and the time and price for the rental.