We depend on efficient and hygienic plumbing for the day-to-day operation of our homes and businesses. When these systems fail, we need targeted solutions to keep our indoor spaces clean and safe.
At Works Plumbing, we understand how essential affordable, accessible plumbing services are within our community. We’re a trusted and reliable plumbing repair company in San Francisco. We arm our clients with the knowledge they need to make the right choices when problems arise.
In this blog, we talk about the common causes of toilet clogs and touch on what you should do to resolve a toilet backing up. For more information about plumbing maintenance and our services, browse our blog or schedule your consultation today.
Common Causes of Toilet Clogs
In many cases, property owners struggle to determine the source or cause of a clog. Clogs and damages in underground pipes, for example, may not make themselves apparent for some time.
Let’s review this comprehensive list of common toilet clog causes. This list will help you narrow down which kind of clog removal services you may need.
#1: Standard Waste Clogs
The most common cause of toilet backing up is basic human waste. When mishandled, waste and toilet paper will clog the main drain of a toilet.
In most cases, this type of clog clears well with a plunger. Call a professional if standard plungers don’t stop your toilet from backing up. Avoid risky DIY fixes like pouring chemicals into your toilet drain, using vinegar, or repeatedly attempting to flush the toilet.
#2: Paper Products
Next to waste products, paper products like toilet paper, paper towels, and napkins often clog toilet pipes.
Paper towels and napkins should never be flushed. Manufacturers do not design these products to be safe for sewer and septic systems. Their size and strength make them incompatible with narrow plumbing pipes and pipe bends.
In addition to paper products, you must never flush feminine hygiene products. These products do not break down in water. As a result, they can easily clog the toilet and septic system.
Each paper product clog has unique circumstances. Speak with plumbing professionals for a personalized diagnosis and repair plan.
#3: Object Caught in Trap
Sometimes foreign objects end up in the toilet. Whether it’s children playing games or something knocked from a shelf, any foreign object can lodge in the toilet’s drain.
An object clogging the toilet happens most frequently in a section known as the s-trap, or p-trap. This wiggly-looking section of the pipe keeps noxious gasses from sewer lines from escaping through your toilet bowl.
Any foreign object can become stuck in the trap. In most cases, snaking the line becomes necessary to remove the object.
#4: Insufficient Tank Water Levels
Another common cause of toilet clogs involves the tank’s water level. If your toilet is backing up, it may be due to your tank not having enough water to flush it.
Low tank water levels may result from several causes. Damaged water supply lines, broken tank seals, and other issues may prevent tanks from filling completely. Some toilet models may also have low flush strength.
The fastest way to diagnose a low water level issue is a professional inspection. Schedule one as soon as possible to prevent a minor leak from becoming a significant issue. An inspection can also lower the chances of your toilet backing up again.
#5: Scale Buildup in Pipes
Hard water carries high concentrations of minerals. These minerals deposit in pipes and appliances, building up over time.
In smaller pipes, scale buildup can create total blockages. These blockages may prevent your toilet from filling or may clog exit pipes leading away from your toilet.
Scale buildup requires professional cleaning or pipe replacement. Contact an experienced plumber in your area to learn which repair methods work best for your pipes and your budget.
#6: Flushable Wipes
Flushable wipes carry a very misleading name. Thanks to this marketing trick, many assume that flushable wipes will dissolve as quickly as toilet paper.
However, flushable wipes take much longer to break down. They don’t dissolve quickly, making it easy for them to become stuck in s-traps, toilet pipes, septic tanks, and more.
As with other types of clogs, plumbers must use snakes and other tools to physically remove the wipes from your pipe system.
#7: Overloaded Septic Tank
Manufacturers design septic systems to handle an anticipated amount of waste. Experts choose appropriately-sized residential or commercial tanks to accommodate a property’s waste.
However, these systems can become overwhelmed. This overload often occurs due to improper or excessive use.
Septic pumping may serve as a good solution. Ideally, property owners with septic tanks will obtain the necessary septic upgrades or change flushing practices.
#8: Broken or Clogged Sewer Line
Sometimes, the pipe connecting a home or business to the main sewer line breaks. When this happens, wastewater can’t leave a property’s plumbing system and begins to back up. When this backup occurs, toilets in your home may clog or back up as well.
Sewer line issues present significant challenges. Do not attempt to repair these lines yourself. Instead, speak with an experienced professional to learn which procedures, permits, and other steps may be necessary.
#9: Damaged Toilet Seal
Toilets affix to bathroom floors and drain pipes using a combination of screws and specialized seals. When these seals corrode or wear down over time, your toilet may not drain properly.
Seal issues may require a total replacement of the seal. Seasoned plumbing professionals have the tools and knowledge to perform this task quickly and affordably.
#10: Inefficient Appliances
Property owners often install low-flow toilets to make their properties more environmentally friendly or save on water bills.
However, low-flow toilets may not be appropriate for every situation. In some cases, replacing the toilet with a higher capacity model may fulfill plumbing needs without increasing water waste.
#11: Inadequate Plumbing Installation
Plumbers must consider factors like gravity, grade, and water force when designing and installing residential plumbing systems. Most new construction requires proper plumbing permits from city officials. However, some property owners rely on unlicensed and untrained plumbers to perform repair work.
Inadequate plumbing installations and repairs can lead to improper wastewater management. When water can’t flow out of your system into a septic tank or sewer system, it can lead to your toilet backing up, flooding, and plumbing backflow. All these outcomes carry significant risks.
#12: Obstructed Plumbing Vents
Plumbing vents allow the airflow necessary for successful wastewater management in a closed plumbing system. When these vents become clogged, your toilet system may not have enough air pressure to flush properly.
If visible debris blocks your vent, clear as much of the litter if possible. If the problem persists, schedule a plumbing inspection as soon as possible.
#13: Outdated Pipes
Construction and plumbing experts design plumbing systems to last a certain amount of time and handle a certain amount of traffic.
Over time, pipes break down, and building traffic may change. For example, businesses that once boasted a modest clientele could suddenly become immensely popular. In restaurants especially, this increased customer traffic puts extra strain on plumbing systems.
The only way to address outdated pipes involves plumbing replacement. Speak with a trusted San Francisco plumbing expert to create a plan that suits your property and budget needs.
#14: Sewer and Septic Flooding
In extreme weather, septic and sewer systems become overwhelmed quickly. As a result, the water entering the sewer or your septic field will prevent the system from taking on more. Consequently, your toilets, drains, showers, baths, and other plumbing fixtures may back up or clog.
Septic and sewer flooding requires emergency plumbing services. Speak to professionals to learn the steps to take to protect your home or business until help arrives.
How to Repair a Clogged Toilet
Any property owner should have access to various other-the-counter clog-fixing tools.
For most, a basic plunger will do the trick just fine. At all costs, avoid using caustic chemicals to clear toilet drains. Most of these chemicals were not designed with toilets in mind.
Snakes, a long metal tube used to grab clogs settled deep into pipes, prove effective for various types of clogs. However, misusing snakes and other tools can damage your plumbing system. If you rent your home or business, speak to the property owner before performing any such task yourself.
Work with Plumbing Experts in San Francisco
If you have a toilet backing up, the best solution comes from hiring trained plumbing experts. Working with trained plumbing experts protects you and your property. Professional plumbers also help you find efficient solutions that suit your budget and schedule.
At Works Plumbing, we serve clients in San Francisco, CA, through expert plumbing knowledge and affordable services. By browsing our blog, you can learn the possible dangers of pouring grease down your drains or schedule your plumbing consultation today. If your toilet is backing up, call Works Plumbing at (650) 761-9164 to get started.