shutterstock_145945508Blocked toilet? No plunger? Here’s what to do if the unthinkable happens.

Improvised tools

When your toilet bowl fills up or is slow to drain it is probably blocked somewhere, but the question is where? The first thing you can try is to use the toilet brush, in case it is only a minor blockage just inside the hole. Jiggle the brush around in the hole to try and dislodge whatever is in there.

If that doesn’t work, your next best improvised plunger is your household mop. Wrap the head in a plastic bag and use it in the hole like you would a plunger. Hopefully it will create some suction and dislodge the blockage.

No luck? Okay, time to try the trusty coat hanger. Take a wire coat hanger and cut it open with wire cutters. Fold it into a curved shape and poke the pointy end down the hole, but be careful not to scratch the porcelain while doing so. Wiggle it around and up into the S bend and if you encounter any resistance, wiggle it some more and see if you can extract whatever’s in there.

Bring out the chemicals

If improvised tools don’t do the trick, then it’s time to try the scientific approach. Dishwashing detergent is heavier than water, so pour some into the toilet bowl and allow it to settle down into the hole. Then pour some hot water on top of it. This will float on the cold water and help to push everything down further. The detergent will also act as a lubricant, so try poking around with your coat hanger again to see if it’s loosened the obstruction.

No good? Vinegar and baking soda produce a chemical reaction when combined, so pour some baking soda into the hole and then add vinegar. Let it froth and bubble for half an hour or so and it may dissolve the blockage.

Still no luck? Time to bring out the big guns, and it should be noted that this method should be used with extreme caution. Caustic soda is highly corrosive and will burn your skin if it gets on it. Carefully add one kilogram of caustic soda to a bucket of water, stirring slowly. When it is fully mixed, pour it into the toilet bowl, put the lid down and retreat for an hour or so.

You will need to wear rubber gloves and eye protection while doing this, and wash your skin immediately if any liquid splashes onto you. Caustic soda also produces fumes, so open all the windows and try not to breathe it in.

Hopefully, when you come back in an hour and pour some hot water into the bowl, your blockage will have miraculously cleared. If not, then it is likely to be something more serious down the line and that early morning call to the plumber is now inevitable.