The Best Tools to Unclog a Toilet

The ideal tool to unclog a toilet depends on the location and severity of the blockage. Although a wide variety of rooting, plunging and flushing tools effectively unclog toilets, each tool's solution to the problem is unique and applicable only under particular circumstances. If you learn about the tools suitable for unclogging toilets, from common to rare, you can choose the tool that provides the quickest and cleanest solution to your plumbing problem.


The classic plunger is often the best tool for unclogging a toilet, particularly if the blockage recently occurred. The standard plunger consists of a rubber suction cup attached to a straight pole. To use a plunger, a plumber simply places the plunger's cup over the toilet bowl's drain opening and pushes the plunger's handle up and down. As the plumber pushes up and down, the cup alternatively sucks and pushes fluid into the drain to dislodge a blockage. However, if a toilet is full of waste water, a plunger may cause the waste to spill over the bowl's edge.

Closet Auger

As suggested by its name, the closet auger drills through blockages. The standard closet auger consists of a flexible metal line attached to a hand crank. A screw-like tip at the end of the metal line rotates as a plumber turns the auger's crank. The screw tip burrows into clogged material, breaks it up to clear the pipe or grabs the material to allow the plumber to pull the clogged material from the pipe. The closet auger is specially designed to enter a toilet through its bowl, as opposed to the general purpose drain auger, which typically enters a drain system through a pipe. Closet augers are the best choice for removing persistent clogs that are too tough for a plunger.

General Purpose Drain Auger

The general purpose drain auger, also called a "sewer snake," is identical in function to the closet auger, but designed to enter drain plumbing through openings in the pipe system called "clean-outs." A clean-out is essentially an access point constructed to allow plumbers to clear or clean out clogged drains. In properly plumbed homes, a clean-out occurs near every toilet. Therefore, general purpose drain augers attack a clog from the opposite direction as a closet auger. Additionally, the rotation of many general purpose augers is powered by a motor. Motor-powered drain augers are best for removing long-standing clogs that both plungers and closet augers fail to fix.

Flushing Tools

If plunging and rooting tools cannot access or solve a clogged toilet, flushing tools provide an alternative route to addressing a blockage. The most common type of flushing tools attach to water hoses and send powerful blasts of water through a drain system. Flushing tools typically enter the drain system through roof-top drain vents. A flushing tool's hose attachment often has a bladder-like function; water fills the balloon-like bladder to a high pressure and suddenly releases the liquid in a powerful burst. This burst of water rushes through drain pipes and dislodges clogs. To effectively use a flushing tool, the plumber must locate the closest vent above the clogged toilet drain.