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Why Does My Toilet Keep Clogging?

Nobody’s got time for a moody, misbehaving toilet that’s constantly causing trouble every time you try to flush. As any Ohio or Indiana homeowner can attest, our notoriously stubborn hard water has a knack for causing all sorts of clogging issues.

While the occasional clogged toilet may seem like a minor inconvenience, ignoring the warning signs can lead to even bigger plumbing problems like overflows, water damage, and expensive fixes down the line.

So what are the common culprits of toilet clogs? Hair, feminine products, and too much toilet paper are common culprits, sure. But water hardness and mineral buildup can wreak havoc too by leaving stubborn buildup along those drain paths. Sometimes the clogs strike deeper – tree roots, low-flow toilets, and even ill-fitted plumbing venting.

Rather than just resorting to a temporary fix every time your toilet clogs up, it’s best to find out the root cause. This will inform you on the best solution to solve your toilet’s flushing woes.

So, let’s take a closer look at the most common reasons toilets clog on a frequent basis so that you can get your household plumbing back in tip-top, free-flowing shape.

Unclogging Toilet

Common Causes of Toilet Clogs

No one likes dealing with a clogged and malfunctioning toilet. But before you can fix the problem, you need to understand what’s causing it in the first place. Let’s explore some of the most common culprits behind those annoying recurring clogs.

Excessive Toilet Paper Use

An often overlooked culprit – flushing just a little too much toilet paper down the pipes. While it may seem harmless, over time that excess paper can definitely start clogging things up. The thicker 2-ply toilet paper can also aggravate the problem because it takes longer to break down.

Knowing just how much toilet paper you need and not overdoing it is one key way to prevent toilet clogs!

Flushing Non-Flushable Items

There are plenty of non-flushable culprits that habitually get sent swirling despite all the warnings, including feminine products, “flushable” wipes, and other hygiene items.

Years of misconceptions about what can actually go down there safely have many homeowners inadvertently creating clogs and backups.

Remember that aside from human waste and a proper amount of toilet paper, nothing else should be going down your toilet.

Older Plumbing Systems

Speaking of restricted water flow, aged plumbing is often the root cause behind toilet clogging issues in many older area homes.

Pipes that have seen decades of wear start losing their inner diameter to scale and buildup. Rusted interiors create plenty of snags for materials to latch onto as well. These compounding effects frequently overwhelm aged plumbing’s ability to flush everything away properly.

Toilet Trap Clogs

Right under the toilet itself lurks what’s called the toilet trap – a curved section of pipe meant to provide a water seal that prevents sewer gases from entering your home. Unfortunately, this trap’s twisting design also makes it a prime spot for obstructions to get snagged up and start restricting flow.

Backed up food waste, hair, and toilet paper love accumulating down in those tight trap bends. Failure to clear trap clogs promptly often leads to a fresh round of toilet clogging.

Toilet Vent Clogs

Plumbing vents serve an important role in regulating air pressure so toilets can flush smoothly. When these vents get obstructed by debris, nests, or deterioration over time, it throws off that critical airflow balance.

Toilets struggle mightily to evacuate waste when the venting system can’t relieve air pressure properly. Vent clogs make for a whole lot of angry flushing and gurgling noises as your toilet fights against its plumbing.  Checking vents and unblocking them as needed restores that necessary airflow.

Sewer Line Clogs

While most toilet clogs originate in the toilet itself or connecting drain lines, sometimes the problem originates much deeper – a clogged sewer line.

These main pipeline obstructions impact multiple fixtures, causing anything from slow drainage to completely blocked pipes with wastewater backing up. Tree root infiltration cracking pipes and causing the intrusion is a common sewer line clogging culprit, as is the residue buildup you’d expect in aging terra cotta or cast iron sewer lines. Severe sewer clogs may also indicate a more structural issue like collapsed or broken pipes that desperately need replacement.

Specific Regional Issues Causing Toilet Clogs

Aside from the common causes of clogged toilets, there are also specific regional issues that homeowners in Ohio and Indiana need to be aware of. 

Seasonal Effects

Living in the Midwest, we know all too well how our seasons can take a toll on home plumbing systems. Those harsh Ohio and Indiana winters aren’t just inconvenient – they can spell disaster for pipes and drains if you’re not careful. When temperatures drop below freezing for extended periods, the cold becomes a perfect storm for clogged toilets.

Frozen pipes are often the core culprit behind wintertime backups. As water inside supply lines starts to freeze and expand, it can force toilet drain traps to become dislodged or cracked, leaving an easy entry point for obstructions. Those clogs then have nowhere to go once the pipes thaw again, resulting in stopped-up porcelain and plenty of plunging.

But winter isn’t the only seasonal risk factor. Our hot, humid summer months create an ideal breeding ground for active sewer lines. Tree and shrub roots gravitate towards those moisture sources, allowing them to infiltrate and puncture drain pipes over time. Before you know it, a mass of invasive roots is causing significant obstructions.

Local Water Quality

You’ve also got to consider the unique mineral makeup of local water supplies throughout Ohio and Indiana. Thanks to the region’s limestone and dolomite bedrock, our water sources tend to be quite high in dissolved calcium and magnesium – also known as hard water.

According to Cincinnati’s municipal water quality reports, the average hardness measures over 150 parts per million across their service area. Indianapolis touts similar hardness levels of around 175 ppm. While not dangerous to consume, that mineral-rich hard water steadily builds up damaging scale and gunk inside residential plumbing over years of constant exposure.

These mineral deposits act as a magnet for all sorts of clogging debris and significantly restrict water flow. Combined with our seasonal plumbing woes, it creates the perfect storm for repetitive toilet clog issues that Ohio and Indiana homeowners have become all too familiar with.

Preventative Measures

While it’s frustrating to deal with a frequently clogged toilet, there are some simple preventative steps you can take to drastically reduce those aggravating backups. A little proactive maintenance goes a long way toward keeping things flowing freely.

Proper Flushing Habits

As homeowners in Ohio and Indiana, getting into good flushing habits early can go a long way toward avoiding constant toilet clogs. It seems simple, but limiting how much toilet paper gets sent down with each flush makes a major difference. Stick to using just enough to do the job – those massive wads provide the perfect base for obstructions to start accumulating.

The same goes for everything else making its way down your toilet. Feminine hygiene products, wipes of any kind (even those marketed as “flushable”), and household items have absolutely no business getting flushed. Make it a household rule – nothing except toilet paper and human waste should ever get sent swirling. And that means keeping bathroom trash cans readily available for proper disposal!

Parents in busy family households may need to be extra diligent about these flushing basics too. Curious kids may try flushing down different kinds of objects which can lead to major plumbing headaches.

Regular Maintenance

Aside from practicing good flushing habits day-to-day, setting routine toilet and plumbing maintenance schedules is your best defense against clogs.

At a minimum, flush toilets with a hot water-vinegar mix monthly to help dissolve early mineral buildup before it becomes problematic. A plunger can provide a forceful water surge to loosen gunk as well.

For a deeper clean and full plumbing inspection, it’s wise to have a licensed local plumber pay your system a yearly visit. These professionals have tools like hydro-jetters that can clear blockages quickly and effectively. Plus, they can quickly identify and address any other contributing issues before they escalate.

It’s also essential to give your plumbing pipes and fixtures a little extra TLC before winter’s big freeze arrives. Insulating exposed pipes, shutting off exterior spigots, and clearing drain traps minimize the risk of weather-related backups. A little prevention goes a long way!

Water Softening Solutions

For Ohio and Indiana homeowners constantly battling hard water, a quality water softening system represents one of the best long-term investments you can make for preventing toilet clogs. By removing those dissolved calcium and magnesium minerals, softeners eliminate the source of that stubborn pipe-clogging scale.

Softened water flows freely through supply lines and drains without that scale steadily accumulating. You’ll notice a marked improvement in water pressure and flushing performance with softened water. Mineral stains disappear from surfaces too.

Although a water softening system may be expensive upfront, it’s an investment that will pay off through fewer plumbing issues and better performance on water heaters and appliances.

DIY Solutions to Toilet Clogs

Before calling for professional plumbing assistance, there are several DIY methods worth trying first for minor clogs. With a little effort and the right tools, you may be able to avoid that service call.


The trusty plunger represents the go-to first line of defense against clogged toilets. But proper plunging technique is key for delivering maximum clog-busting power. For best results, opt for an old-fashioned cup plunger rather than the type made for sink drains. The cup forms a tighter seal in the toilet.

Start by pushing the plunger straight down into the toilet to force out excess water and make room for the plunge. Position the plunger at a slight angle to create effective sideways pressure. Then, vigorously push the plunger vertically up and down, maintaining that angled seal against the bowl. This forceful in-and-out motion generates vacuum pressure to dislodge the clog.

Be patient and persistent – you may need 15-20 sustained plunges to begin breaking up blockages. Rotate the plunger periodically as well to work on the clog from all angles. If water levels get too high, remove some with a cup before continuing your plunging regimen.

Using a Toilet Auger

Also called a plumber’s snake or closet auger, this specialized drain tool extends into curved traps and toilet drains that plungers simply can’t reach. Manually cranking the snake’s tightly-coiled metal cable bores directly through clogs.

To use, first feed the auger cable into the bowl as far down as it can go. Keep cranking and applying firm downward pressure to advance the snake’s end deeper. You’ll feel it grinding against the obstruction. Continue patiently cranking back and forth while pushing forward to eventually chew right through the clogged section.

Once through, spin the auger in both directions to more fully break up the debris. Then slowly retract the snake, using a plunger to help flush out any remaining particles if needed. Move methodically and avoid abrupt yanking that could stress the toilet’s plumbing.

Homemade Drain Cleaner

Sometimes all it takes are some common household ingredients to tackle minor toilet clogs. A classic baking soda and vinegar solution makes for an effective, eco-friendly homemade drain cleaner.

Simply pour about 1/2 cup baking soda directly into the toilet bowl. Then slowly pour in 1 cup plain white vinegar as well. This triggers a satisfying fizzing chemical reaction that helps dissolve organic matter like hair and paper. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes to fully work before giving the mixture an extra boost by pouring a kettle of hot water into the bowl from waist height. The added force helps propel everything through.

Hot Water and Dish Soap

Even just a simple hot water and dish soap solution can sometimes demolish minor toilet clogs, especially those caused by built-up gunk rather than solid obstructions. The heat helps dissolve fats and oils that get stuck, while the detergents work to emulsify and break down the grime.

Start by boiling a few cups of water. Mix in a few squirts of regular dish soap – enough to get it nice and sudsy. Then very carefully pour the hot soapy mixture directly into the toilet bowl, aiming to get it down that drain opening as much as possible. Let it sit for 20-30 minutes to fully penetrate the clog.

After letting it work its magic, try giving it a few firm (but not overly aggressive) plunges with a standard cup plunger. The combination of heat, soap, and agitation can provide enough power to help dislodge lighter obstructions. Repeat the process as needed until you regain free-flowing drainage.

Of course, these DIY remedies may not be enough to bust through every single toilet clog, especially more severe blockages. But for basic backups, these home unclogging methods are worth a try first!

When to Call a Professional

Even with diligent preventative measures and savvy DIY techniques, stubborn toilet clogs are sometimes inevitable, especially in older Ohio and Indiana homes.

If you find yourself battling the same clogged toilet again and again no matter what you’re doing, it’s time to call in professional reinforcements.

When a toilet starts regurgitating sewage or overflowing onto the floor, it’s an obvious plumbing emergency requiring prompt professional assistance. However, some less dramatic but still concerning signs may indicate it’s time to call in the experts before things escalate. 

Pay close attention if you notice sluggish drainage from multiple fixtures around the home. Odd gurgling sounds emanating from the plumbing system can signify an underlying obstruction as well. These subtle issues often point to a more serious, widespread blockage that homeowners may struggle to fully resolve on their own.

Our region’s harsh winter conditions can easily exacerbate clogged toilet situations too. When subzero temperatures stick around for days, keep an eye out for frozen pipes that restrict water flow and become clogged once thawing occurs. And we all know what a headache burst pipes after freeze/thaw cycles can create for plumbing systems!

Rather than risking costly water damage from overflowing backups or attempting dangerously complex repairs yourself, it’s wise to ask for assistance from experienced local professionals before issues escalate. 

Attempting to muscle through such systemic clogs risks causing additional damage and headaches down the line. Seeking professional plumbing support at the first indicators can help pinpoint and properly address the root cause before it spirals into a catastrophic situation.

The good news is that we at Bassett Services have provided Cincinnati, Dayton, and Indianapolis households with unparalleled plumbing repair and maintenance services for over 40 years. Our reputable plumbers leverage state-of-the-art equipment like internal video cameras and hydro-jetters to quickly pinpoint and eliminate the toughest toilet and drain clogs.

But we don’t just treat the symptoms – Bassett’s pros take a big-picture approach. Our technicians thoroughly inspect and test your home’s plumbing system to identify any underlying causes contributing to chronic toilet backups. From correcting venting issues and unclogging main sewer lines to recommending permanent solutions like pipe re-lining or replacement, we’ll ensure long-lasting clog-free performance.

Restore Proper Toilet Performance

There’s no avoiding toilet clogs entirely as a homeowner, but understanding what causes those pesky backups puts you ahead of the game. You will be equipped to implement preventative measures and address issues promptly whether it’s excessive toilet paper usage, inappropriate items being flushed, hard water buildup, or aging plumbing that’s causing the problem.

For minor clogs, you can do simple DIY methods like plunging, using a toilet auger, or homemade drain cleaners. These DIY solutions are often very effective at dislodging obstructions, saving you from having to call a professional plumber.

But once you’ve exhausted your DIY skills without success, it’s time to call in the professional plumbing reinforcements. Some signs of more severe blockages include slow drainage from multiple fixtures or persistent gurgling sounds. If you notice these things, don’t attempt to do things on your own because you might cause inadvertent damage instead.

Don’t resign yourself to clogged toilet struggles. Promptly address the issue by contacting certified plumbers who can fully resolve the problem and implement lasting solutions. Call Bassett Services at (317) 360-0054 to experience our unrivaled plumbing repair and maintenance services. We’ll get things flushing freely again fast!

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