One of the most common and frustrating recurring plumbing problems in many Madison area households is toilet clogs. While some clogs are easily fixed with a plunger, other clogs are more stubborn and require the assistance of a plumber to clear. Clogs are usually temporary inconveniences, but frequent clogging is indicative of more significant problems within your toilet or pipes. Luckily, there are many easy ways to prevent toilet clogs and keep your toilet and plumbing in great shape.

Only Flush Waste and Toilet Paper

A common mistake that many people make is flushing various items down the toilet such as tissues, gum, cotton balls, baby wipes, feminine hygiene products, kitty litter, and more. Toilets are only designed to handle water, human waste, and toilet paper. Everything else poses a clogging risk for a variety of reasons.

To make matters worse, flushing certain items and substances has a negative effect on your plumbing or septic tank. For example, grease congeals when exposed to cold water, causing it to gum up pipes and septic tanks. Harsh chemicals also kill the bacteria in septic tanks that help them break down waste, causing massive backups and contaminating the nearby soil.

Avoid Storing Items Over and on the Toilet

Many households have items stored above or on the toilet tank like candles, potpourri, tissue boxes, bars of soap, and other decorations or toiletries. These items very frequently fall into the toilet on accident and sometimes wind up getting flushed without anyone realizing it. To avoid these accidental clogs, don’t store anything on top of the toilet or on shelves above it.

Don’t Use Too Much Toilet Paper

While toilets are designed to flush toilet paper, too much toilet paper in a single flush easily causes clogs. In fact, excessive use of toilet paper is the leading cause of most toilet clogs. Limit your toilet paper usage to about three squares. If you’re concerned about situations in which you’d need more toilet paper, there are some tricks that you can try to reduce the risk of clogs while still meeting your needs.

Fold the toilet paper instead of crumpling it into little balls to reduce the surface area of the paper in the pipe. Use a higher quality and more absorbent toilet paper to maximize effectiveness while reducing usage. To avoid the need for toilet paper entirely and prevent many clogs, it’s a great idea to install a bidet.

Avoid Toilet Fresheners

Hard toilet fresheners that sit on the rim of the toilet break apart as they’re used. Pieces of the freshener get caught in the pipes and cause clogs. On some occasions, the entire freshener may fall off and cause a stubborn hard clog in your pipes.

In-tank liquid fresheners allow the chemicals to sit in the toilet tank for extended periods of time, which causes corrosion and other damage to the tank and pipes.

Fresheners that are dropped in the bowl, dissolve, and are flushed away within hours cause damage to your toilet and pipes that may lead to clogs, especially if they use harsh cleansers like bleach. To keep your toilet looking nice and smelling fresh without the added damage to the plumbing and septic system, clean your toilet with a simple baking soda and vinegar solution.

Upgrade From Old Toilets

Toilets that are more than 20 years old tend to have issues generating enough water pressure to flush effectively. Your old toilet can appear to be in perfect condition but still function less efficiently than average when compared with more modern toilets.

If you don’t tend to flush anything besides normal human waste and toilet paper and still suffer from regular clogs, your old toilet may be to blame. Modern toilets will not only provide you with much better water pressure to create a more powerful flush, but they also use less water overall and are more efficient, which allows you to save money on your water bills.

Double Flush

If you don’t have the means to replace an old toilet at the moment, flushing twice is a good way of preventing clogs when you have a toilet that has low water pressure. When you flush with a toilet that has low water pressure, the toilet paper and waste may be out of sight in the bowl while it remains in the pipes close to the surface. The next flush containing paper and waste will collide with the previous waste and cause a clog.

In order to clear this waste entirely and help prevent a clog the next time you need to use the toilet, it’s best to flush once more with a clear bowl of only water to help move the waste along. Ideally, however, you should opt to replace your old toilet with a more efficient model as soon as possible to avoid wasting water.

Check the Supply Valve

Low water pressure can be an issue in newer toilets as well. The problem doesn’t usually stem from the toilet itself in these circumstances. The water that is fed to the toilet from the supply valve may be inadequate because the valve isn’t open enough. Check the valve and open it more to see if that increases the water pressure in your toilet when filling the tank and flushing the bowl.

Be Wary of Hard Water Buildup

Most homeowners know of the damage that hard water causes to kitchen and bathroom fixtures, but it also poses a huge problem for your pipes. When mineral deposits build up, it is incredibly easy for clogs to form. If you suspect that you have hard water issues causing clogs in your pipes, consider having a water softener system professionally installed.

Get Your Plumbing and Septic Checked Regularly

Regular inspections on your plumbing and septic tank are helpful for preventing clogs and spotting many plumbing issues before they become catastrophic problems. You can do some basic inspections on your own by keeping an eye out for leaks, looking for septic backup in the yard, and taking note of other issues when they arise. However, having a professional come down to do a thorough inspection will allow you to find and fix many issues that may be causing clogs.

Replace Old Plumbing

Old homes come with old pipes that may be rusty, pitted, and rough. The rust, pits, and rough spots easily snag onto hair, food particles, waste, and other materials that flow through your pipes, which easily causes clogging. It’s a big job, but having a professional plumber replace old plumbing is the best option to prevent frequent clogging and massive plumbing issues in the future.

If you’re experiencing frequent clogging issues or other plumbing problems, our experienced professionals at Southport Home Services will provide you with the best service to fix any plumbing issues. From emergency plumbing repairs to installing water filtration systems, bathroom fixtures, and sump pumps, our technicians will provide you with high-quality, non-intrusive, and fast service.

We also offer bathroom remodels; gas line repair and replacement; HVAC repair, installation, and maintenance; installation services for air purifiers, humidifiers, and dehumidifiers; and much more. For additional information on any of the services we provide in the areas in and around Wausau, Madison, and Caledonia, Wisconsin, contact us at Southport Home Services today.

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Thomas Suchla
Thomas Suchla


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