Although your toilet is designed to dispose of toilet paper without a hitch, it has its limits. If you toss too much toilet paper in at once, you might end up dealing with a partially or entirely blocked toilet. Now, since the toilet is clogged, it’s out of commission.
While this might not be an overly big deal in homes with multiple bathrooms, it can create a significant problem in single-bathroom homes. So, if your toilet is suffering from a toilet paper clog, here’s what you should do.
What Causes Toilet Paper Clogs?
While it might seem strange that your toilet is clogged from using toilet paper, there are a few things that could cause this. First, you might’ve thrown in too much toilet paper at once. This is the most common reason for toilet paper clogs, as large amounts of toilet paper can easily block the plumbing.
It stretches and twists as it attempts to flush out of the toilet bowl and through the plumbing. It can form a tight ball that entirely or partially blocks your drain, becoming too much for the system to handle. To avoid this issue, flush smaller amounts of toilet paper.
Alternatively, it could result from a drain that was already partially clogged. In most cases, small amounts of toilet paper aren’t enough to clog the drain. However, if there was something in the drain, partially blocking it, the toilet paper could complete the blockage.
Once it encounters the object, it can become lodged in the open part of the pipe, completing the blockage. So, to avoid this, don’t flush anything but toilet paper and human waste. Feminine products, wipes, and other similar items shouldn’t go down the toilet, as they can become lodged in the plumbing and create a partial or complete blockage.
If you continually send these items down the toilet, they can build up and create a massive problem. Generally, this type of issue requires professional assistance, as plunging and snaking the drain won’t break up the clog.
Will Clogged Toilet Paper Eventually Dissolve?
Generally speaking, clogs made of water-soluble materials will eventually dissolve. For toilet paper clogs, there’s a chance they might slowly dissolve after a while. In some cases, they might clear themselves after a while. The toilet paper will absorb water, potentially breaking down as it becomes saturated.
As it breaks down, it’ll allow water to flow through the plumbing, aiding in further dislodging the clog. Toilet paper is designed to be water-soluble, so it won’t wreak havoc on your plumbing system.
Of course, this isn’t always true. Sometimes, the clog might be severe enough that it won’t go away on its own. In that case, you might need to offer assistance in dislodging the clog.
How Do You Unclog A Toilet Paper Clog?
If you suspect toilet paper is blocking the plumbing and preventing your toilet from flushing, there are a few methods you can try. Before you call a plumber, try these options.
Give It Time
As mentioned, some toilet paper clogs will remedy themselves after a while. Sometimes, it can take as long as an hour for the paper to become saturated enough to break down. So, if your toilet is clogged and flushing doesn’t work, give it about 30 minutes to an hour.
After a while, try flushing the toilet again (if the water is nearly overflowing, don’t try this – it will only make a mess). In some cases, the toilet paper clog will be dissolved enough to allow proper water movement. As the water flushes through the system, it might sweep away the remnants of the clog to the sewer, leaving your plumbing lines free of blockages.
Use Dish Soap
If you don’t have a plunger or drain snake, try using dish soap. Simply pour about ¼ cup of dish soap into your toilet bowl and wait about 10 minutes. This will give the soap plenty of time to migrate down to the clog.
Now, pour hot (not boiling) water into the toilet and wait another ten minutes. After ten minutes, flush the toilet again to see if the clog moves through the pipes.
Note: Be cautious when pouring hot water into the toilet bowl. If it’s too hot, it can cause the toilet to crack (especially if it’s made of porcelain). Never pour boiling water into the toilet bowl.
Plunge The Toilet
If flushing the toilet doesn’t remedy the issue, the next best thing is a plunger. Be sure to use a toilet plunger (there are other types of plungers, like sink plungers), as they’re designed to fit over the hole in the bottom of the toilet. If the plunger cup doesn’t completely cover the hole, it cannot create the suction necessary to dislodge the clog.
All you’ll need for this method is a plunger (plus a few towels if there’s water on the floor). Fit the cup of the plunger over the hole in the bottom of the toilet. Push it firmly down over the hole to create a tight seal, then plunge the toilet vigorously several times.
After plunging the toilet a few times, remove the plunger to break the seal. If the water swirls down the toilet bowl, lowering the water level, you’ve cleared the clog. However, if it doesn’t work, you might need to try this method several times.
In some cases, the clog might be firmly stuck in place, so the plunger might not work. So, if you can’t get the clog to dislodge after several tries, try the following methods.
Use An Auger
A plumbing auger might be the solution if a plunger doesn’t do the trick. Also known as a plumbing snake, this tool utilizes a long cable to break up clogs. For this method, you’ll feed the cable into the outlet hole at the bottom of the toilet.
You’ll need to be careful, as plumbing snakes can easily damage the inside of the toilet and can even break the toilet pipes. So, carefully feed the snake into the toilet until you feel it meet resistance. Rotate the auger’s handle to break up the clog, then carefully retract the cable to remove whatever caused the blockage.
Note: Be very careful when using an auger on a toilet, as they can do more damage than good if used improperly. If you’re unsure how to use it or don’t feel comfortable doing so, leave this job to a professional plumber.
Use A Chemical Product
Although we recommend steering clear of harsh chemicals to remove clogs, you can use a drain-safe chemical product to break up the clog in your toilet. Ensure you choose a product that is safe for use on toilets (and septic systems, if you have one).
Once you pick a product, follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the label.
Call A Plumber
If all else fails, it’s time to call a plumber. While you could remove the toilet to address the issue, that project can be tricky and is often unnecessary for toilet paper clogs. So, if you’ve tried plunging the toilet, using a drain snake, and chemical clog removers to no avail, enlist the help of a professional.
On average, homeowners spend approximately $350 for a plumber to snake the drain and test the system. In severe cases (usually when there’s a foreign object, like a toy), it could cost upwards of $700 to remove the blockage. On the low end, you might pay as little as $100 for a simple drain snaking.