Plunging 101: How to Plunge Your Toilet Before It Overflows

Nothing brings on panic and stress quite like an overflowing toilet – especially if you’re in someone else’s home. If you don’t know how to react in this situation, it’s even worse.

Thankfully, knowing how to plunge a toilet before it overflows can help you keep your cool in the situation and avoid a big mess with a flooded bathroom.

Stop the Water Flow First

As soon as you see a toilet begin to overflow, you have to stop the water from entering the bowl and exacerbating the issue.

Don’t Just Flush Again

It’s common to want to flush the toilet repeatedly to stop the bowl from filling up, but you’re only adding more water with nowhere to go. You’ll quickly end up with a flooded bathroom, so don’t flush.


Toilet Overflowing

Close the Tank Flapper

Once you notice the toilet is overflowing, open the lid to the tank and close the flapper. This small rubber piece allows the water to flow from the tank to the bowl by opening and closing a valve. It’s often easy to locate as its bright and attached to a metal or chain lever. Close it to stop the water flow.

If you’re worried that the toilet may overflow before you flush, you can open the tank and prepare the flapper, then flush with your other hand. Then, you’ll be able to stop the water from getting out of control.

Find the Toilet’s Water Shut-Off Valve

If the toilet has a water shut-off valve, this is the easiest way to stop the water flow in the bowl. While not all toilets have one, you’d find it near the wall where the toilet sits. Turn the valve clockwise to turn it off.

Get Ready to Plunge

Once the water flow is turned off, you have time to focus on plunging to resolve the clog.

First, Take Water Out of the Bowl

If the bowl filled a lot before you shut off the water, you may need to take some out to avoid it overflowing once you submerge the plunger. Grab some gloves and a bucket to scoop out a little water.

Use a Flange Plunger

Standard plungers are often used in bathrooms, and they’ll work fine in a bind. But if you have a choice, a flange plunger is the best for a toilet clog, as it has a specialized design to fit tightly into the drain. This tight seal is what it takes to create suction that moves the clog.

Warm Up the Plunger

Sometimes, a plunger that’s cold will be stiff and makes it difficult to create a seal. If that’s the case, run the plunger under hot water for a few seconds to warm it up and make it more pliable for a better seal.

Learn How to Use the Plunger Correctly

Plunging may seem like common sense, but many people focus their movement on the downward stroke of the plunger. This is only done to create suction, so when you pull back up, the clog can move. Both of these motions are important for loosening the clog.

How To Use A Plunger

Once you form a seal, use strong, steady strokes up and down to keep the seal tight and dislodge the clog. You don’t want to break the seal while you’re plunging, so don’t rush it. After plunging a few times, you may see the water drain on its own. If it does, you can flush and your work is done.

If that doesn’t happen, you may need to test it every so often. Try flushing the toilet again to see if the water drains. If it doesn’t, stop the bowl from filling up with the flapper and try plunging a few more times.

Use Household Remedies

Plunging is by far the best way to remove a simple clog on your own. You can’t rely on liquid drain cleaners like Drano, which will damage the porcelain.

Household remedies can be helpful and are totally safe for the toilet. Plumbers often use hot water and dish detergent to dissolve a clog and get it moving. It only takes a little of both to help with the plunging process.

Another option is baking soda and vinegar, which is gentle enough to work on the clog. The chemical reaction between these two substances is great for clogs, but you may need to wait eight hours to see results. Only use this option if you have the time.

Do You Need a Plumber?

Plunging can be done on your own in many cases, but you may want to bring in a plumber if there’s a foreign object in your toilet. These objects shouldn’t be flushed, even if you loosen them, so call a plumber to auger your drain.

Dealing with a stubborn clog? Contact us at Service Champions to schedule an appointment!