Why Does My Toilet Keep Clogging?

February 2, 2022

We’ve all had to face a clogged toilet at some point in our lives. But does it seem like your toilet has you grabbing for the plunger almost weekly—maybe even daily? If so, this problem might not be happening for the reason you think.

Below, we’ll explain some of the top reasons why a toilet can clog on a regular basis.

1. Something is wedged in the drain or trap.

Some clogs can be a lot more stubborn than others and require more than a plunger to remove. Your toilet’s drain doesn’t have a lot of room for objects to pass. It’s possible that the way could be blocked by wet wipes, paper towels, a diaper, feminine hygiene products, or even a child’s toy.

While other drain types (like sinks and showers) can be relatively easy to snake, there’s a higher risk of damaging your toilet without the right tools and experience. To clear this blockage, we recommend involving a plumber.

Remember: the only things that should go down your toilet are “number 1,” “number 2,” and toilet paper. Even items similar to toilet paper (like paper towels and napkins), can easily clog the drain.

2. There’s too little water in the tank.

When you flush the toilet, it’s a combination of gravity and the force of the rushing water that pushes your business down the drain. It’s possible that your toilet might not be unleashing enough water for a powerful flush. This could be happening for two reasons:

  • The flapper won’t open all the way, obstructing the water flow. Adjust the length of the chain connected to the flapper so that the flapper opens completely when you flush.
  • The water level in your tank is too low. Add water up to the fill line so that you’ll finally have enough water with which to flush.

In some cases, your toilet’s float (a bobbing device that sits on the water in your tank) will prevent you from filling the tank to the fill line. If the float is set too low, you can adjust its height with a screwdriver.

3. The toilet is clogged with mineral buildup.

A lot of homes struggle with problems relating to hard water—water with a heavy concentration of calcium, magnesium, and other minerals. When these minerals solidify, they form a hard crust on your plumbing fixtures and pipes. This buildup can cause clogs to occur more easily.

Typically, you’ll only see a mineral buildup issue in a really old toilet. The best course of action here is to replace your toilet. You may also want to consider installing a water softener to prevent other limescale-related problems down the road.

4. Your low-flow toilet is an old model.

Low-flow toilets have come a long way in terms of effectiveness. In the early 1990s, federal law mandated that toilets could use no more than 1.6 gallons per flush. Consequently, there was a rush to create low-flush toilets for the masses—and a lot of them were just terrible. Many would require multiple flushes to avoid clogs but would frequently clog anyway.

If your low-flow toilet is from the 1990s, you can save yourself a lot of frustration by upgrading to a new, water-smart toilet. Low-flow toilets have significantly improved over the years, particularly models with the WaterSense label.

5. Something is blocking a vent pipe.

The vent pipes in your drain system allow sewer gases to escape to the outdoors. This prevents the gases from building up in your drains, and it also makes a suctioning force that pulls water and waste through the pipes.

Occasionally, something on your roof can block the main vent pipe, like a bird’s nest, a ball, or a dead animal. If something is blocking the vent, you’ll need someone to access your roof, locate the vent pipe, and clear the blockage.

6. There’s a problem with your sewer line.

Your home’s drain pipes all converge into your home’s sewer line, which then meets up with the city’s sewer system. As your sewer line ages, problems can occur that can prevent waste from passing through to the city sewer. The pipe can break due to ground movements or invasive tree roots. The pipe can also become clogged. When a clog occurs, waste has nowhere to go but back up into your home.

Pro Tip: If your home’s sewer line is the culprit, you’ll typically experience problems from multiple drains in your home, not on your toilet.

Having trouble with a toilet in your home? Our Boston plumbers are ready to help! Contact Winters Home Services today to schedule your service: 617-221-5899.