WHY DOES MY TOILET KEEP CLOGGING?


Why does my toilet keep clogging blog article.

26 Mar, 2022

Plumbing problems present some of the most stressful issues for homeowners. And one of the biggest culprits is the toilet. It’s not unusual for a toilet to clog occasionally, but what does it mean if your toilet always clogs?

A toilet clogging repeatedly could indicate an underlying issue with your toilet, a much deeper problem within your plumbing, or it could be that you’re simply not treating it with the care it deserves. Let’s delve into the nitty gritty of what causes a toilet to clog and why it keeps happening.

Why Does My Toilet Keep Clogging?

Before we address a continually problematic toilet, let’s answer one important question: Why do toilets clog in the first place? There are several causes of a clogged toilet and often, the best method for how to fix a toilet that keeps clogging up is simply making changes to your bathroom habits. It rarely means you need to replace your whole plumbing system (although we’ll address this later on, just in case).

Diagnosing the problem is the first step to pinpointing the solution. Once you find the cause, there’s usually a simple fix that doesn’t require the services of a professional plumber. Let’s discuss why a toilet clogs easily and what you can do about it.

You Have an Older, Low Flow Toilet

The look of a toilet might not have changed much, but the way it works has. People who live in older homes are most likely to have a low flow toilet, developed in the 1990s. If you have an early model, your toilet clogs often because these toilets lack the pressure necessary to push material down the trap and into your drain.

When toilets lack flushing pressure, the material tends to be left behind. Over time, this can lead to a toilet clogging repeatedly. Unfortunately, the only real fix for this problem is to purchase a new toilet. Today, all modern toilets come with the necessary flushing pressure to whisk any material away every time.

Unfortunately, purchasing a new toilet isn’t cheap. So while you save up, an effective temporary fix is simply reducing your toilet paper usage.

Flushing Non-Flushable Items

If your toilet keeps clogging, you may want to consider exactly what is being flushed. Toilets were meant to handle human waste, toilet paper, and nothing else. However, it's a common misconception that it’s okay to flush paper or hygiene products too.

Unfortunately, many households are misinformed by brands about what can and cannot be flushed. For example, many wipes are marketed as “flushable,” even though they certainly are not. Cotton balls, feminine products, and Q-tips are other household items commonly found in toilets.

While flushing a non-flushable item once is unlikely to lead to problems, regularly flushing what shouldn’t be flushed will lead to blockages. In many cases, a plunger will remove many of these blockages. More severe blockages can also be dislodged with the help of an auger. If the build up has gotten really bad, you may need to call a plumber. 

Excessive Toilet Paper Usage

Toilet paper is designed to be flushed, but your toilet can only take so much. Toilet paper is thin, so it can easily dissolve in the water, but it cannot dissolve properly if there’s too much of it.

Toilet paper will eventually stick to the pipes and drain lines. Some types of toilet paper are more prone to blockages than others. Certain brands of two-ply toilet paper are known for failing to dissolve correctly, leaving your toilet more prone to clogging.

The answer is simple: use less toilet paper. The truth is most people use more toilet paper than they need. Balling up toilet paper before wiping only means you need to use more of it. The most efficient way to make the most of your toilet paper is to fold and wipe.

Adopting more conscientious toilet paper use can prevent clogging, as well as save money.

Clogged Toilet Trap

The P-trap on a bathroom or kitchen sink is something most homeowners are aware of. Your toilet also has a trap, which could be a contributor to why your toilet clogs often.

Unlike the sink, a toilet has what’s known as an S-trap corresponding to its shape. It’s what connects the toilet bowl with your drain line. The purpose of the S-trap is to prevent oversized items from getting into the drain line and causing a blockage.

So it should come as no surprise that this is where items commonly get stuck. It could be a non-flushable item, too much toilet paper, or simply excess waste. If your toilet constantly clogs, there’s a reasonable chance that the S-trap has a lot of matter stuck inside.

Unclogging the S-trap may be the answer to why your toilet clogs easily. Plunging should move most clogs along. Again, look for the flanged toilet plunger to increase the water pressure and dislodge any blockages.

A toilet auger is also a valuable item to remove the clog. Just insert the auger into the drain and move it forward until you notice resistance. Should you find the resistance just beyond the drain, the chances are you have an S-trap problem.

Begin rotating the auger to break up the material and grab any remaining material from the drain. If this doesn’t work, you’ll need to contact a plumber.

Blocked Toilet Vent

Most homeowners don’t realize that modern toilets are connected to a vent typically found on the roof. It’s responsible for allowing fresh air to rotate through your plumbing system, which increases the pressure of every flush.

If a toilet vent experienced a blockage, the flushing pressure of your toilet will suffer a noticeable decline. A lack of pressure stops flushing, which is why low flow toilets are so ineffective. Blocked toilet vents are most characterized by gurgling noises emanating from your toilet, slow drainage throughout your home, and the distinct smell of sewage.

Toilet vents usually get blocked by dirt and debris on the roof. If you want to fix the problem yourself, you’ll need to grab a ladder and find your vent. You’ll usually find it just above the main bathroom.

Remove the vent cap and look for any debris. If you see anything, pull it out. You should feed your garden hose, with a spray nozzle, to the roof and spray some water into the vent to drain any remaining debris. If the water fails to drain, it could indicate a more severe blockage.

You can also try using your toilet auger via your vent. Make sure it’s a minimum of 20 feet long, or it will not be able to reach your sewer line. Rotate your auger to break up the blockage and flush some water down the toilet to verify that your vents have been cleared.

If the problem hasn’t resolved itself, it’s time to get in touch with a professional plumber.

Clogged Sewer Line

More severe blockages may indicate a problem with the sewer line, meaning a clog may have made it out of your fixtures and into the main sewer line. Clogged sewer lines are among the most serious plumbing issues. If this is why your toilet keeps clogging, you will notice drainage problems across your whole house.

Sewer line blockages don’t always indicate a mistake on your part. Infiltrations, breaks, and tree root penetrations are some of the outside sources that could cause problems for your household. You cannot fix the sewer lines yourself and you should contact a professional immediately. The longer a sewer line clog is allowed to endure, the more damage it will cause to your home plumbing system.

Not Enough Water in the Tank

You could be doing everything right, but your home’s water system is responsible for the problem. Your toilet requires large amounts of water to create the pressure necessary to consistently force matter through your drain and into the main sewage line.

If you don’t have enough water coming into your toilet, you may find that the tank is not filling up correctly. While your toilet will still flush, you won’t get the correct amount of water coming into the bowl.

An easy way to diagnose this problem is to check the knob on the water supply line. It should be open all the way. In some cases, you may need to contact a plumber to check the rubber float in your tank. It is not uncommon that it could be set too low.

Lack of Fiber

This one may seem unusual, but your diet can also impact how well your toilet will perform. People who lack fiber in their diet often produce waste that is solid and more likely to get stuck. People with heavy meat-based diets tend to experience this problem more than others. Adding extra servings of fruit and vegetables to your diet can clear your internal plumbing and make your toilet (and digestive tract) much happier.

There’s a reason why some people who suffer from severe dietary problems often need to invest in a power-assist toilet to get some extra flushing power. If you need a toilet with some extra power, you’ll be happy to know they don’t cost significantly more than regular toilets. However, it’s important to note that power-assist toilets use more water.

How to Prevent Your Toilet From Clogging

If you want to stop calling your plumber saying, “help, my toilet keeps clogging!” then you need to take preventative steps to stop the problem from happening in the first place.

While you already have some basic tips for stopping many of the most common factors in blockages, such as using less toilet paper and avoiding flushing foreign objects, here are some more advanced tips to stop blockages in their tracks. 

Know What is Flushable

Begin by educating yourself on what is flushable and what isn’t. There is tremendous confusion regarding this issue because some manufacturers of hygiene products claim that their products are designed to be flushed.

Truthfully, many of these products can be flushed in the sense that they’ll disappear from your toilet bowl, but they will significantly increase the chances of blockages in the future.

Stick to human waste and toilet paper, and nothing else. If you have children, take the time to teach them what should and should not be flushed.

Keep Your Toilet Tanks Clear

It’s not uncommon to see people storing soaps, toilet paper, ornaments, and other items on their toilet tanks. Not many people are aware that this actually increases the risk of clogging.

Many people inadvertently knock these items into the toilet bowl. They may fall down the drain before you notice. Always keep the toilet area clear to reduce the risk of experiencing a significant clog or even damage to the toilet itself.

Plunge Regularly

Any plumber will tell you that most blockages result from a sudden influx of items but a gradual buildup. Large blockages could result from months’ worth of toilet paper. Proactive action can stop problems from occurring before disaster strikes.

Get into the habit of inspecting your toilet and its drainage every six months. Plunge your toilet at least twice per year. You may be surprised at how much it can improve the performance of your toilet.

Many people don’t realize that they’ve lost pressure or their toilet has degraded until it stops entirely. Regular maintenance is the best way to go. If you are worried or have any concerns, it’s also worth calling a plumber for an inspection.

Be Aware of Slow Drains

Slow and weak flushes are a common symptom that a clog is forming in your drain. Rather than waiting until your toilet stops flushing entirely, address the problem immediately.

Again, use a flanged plunger to remove any blockages. If the problem fails to resolve itself, use a toilet auger and see what you can find. You should never use a flat plunger for a toilet. The lack of protrusion means they cannot form the airtight seal required to force water down the drain at high pressures. Anyone struggling with a regularly clogged toilet should invest in a flanged plunger.

Apply the Double Flush

Flushing is not a magical button that takes away all your problems. A single flush can only handle so much at once. Although everything might have disappeared from the bowl, it doesn’t mean that it has cleared the S-trap, the fixture, and the drain.

Apply the double flush to ensure everything is gone when your toilet is particularly full. In practice, double flushing is an excellent habit to get into regardless. Just be wary of your water bill. 

Call the Experts

If you’re asking yourself Why does my toilet keep clogging when I’ve tried everything?”, it’s time to call in the experts. 

Any number of reasons could cause the problem, and many of them can be solved on your own. However, if your toilet regularly experiences the same problems, it may be time to call in the help of a professional. Valley Service is your go-to local plumber, serving Fargo for over 40 years. 

Get your toilet back to its best with premium plumbing services. To learn more about our services, contact Valley Service today.