Discover 6 Causes of a Clogged Toilet in Ottawa

Clogged toilet in a residential bathroom.
We've all experienced the panic that comes with flushing the toilet only to watch the water in the toilet bowl steadily rise. That sinking feeling where you know something's gone wrong and you're desperately hoping it doesn't spill over the edge and flood your floor.

With all the use your toilet gets in a day, let alone a week, month or year, it's no surprise that it clogs from time to time. But did you know that most clogs are preventable? And that some might actually be due to a different issue deep in your plumbing system?

Having a clogged toilet can be immensely frustrating—not to mention embarrassing. They're messy to remove, requiring tools like a rubber glove, plunger, plumbing snake or wire coat hanger, buckets and more. Some homeowners swear by DIY solutions, like filling your toilet bowl with dish soap or cups of vinegar. The bottom line is, blocked bowls are a pain.

Often, clogs happen at the worst times, like when your in-laws are visiting or you're hosting a birthday party for your son or daughter. While you can always call emergency plumbing services—such as those offered by Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Ottawa, the best approach is to be proactive. By discovering the source of the clog—particularly if it's a recurring issue—you can prevent messy cleanups and embarrassing situations. Read on to learn six reasons why your toilet is clogged.

1. You're Using Too Much Paper

One of the leading causes of clogs is too much paper put in the toilet bowl. Not only will you go through your rolls more quickly—which is bad for the environment and for your wallet—but it's also a headache to clean up. Often, small children are notorious for using far too much paper.
If you think you use a reasonable amount of paper but are still suffering clogs, it may be that there is congested paper down the line.

Pro Tip:

Sometimes it’s not a matter of congestion deep in your plumbing system but a matter of using the wrong type of paper. Tissue is supposed to dissolve easily when it touches water, but this is not the case with all brands. If the paper is too strong, it won't dissolve and you'll wind up with a blockage.

2. Something's Lodged in It

You'd be surprised at how often children's toys and other items wind up lodged in the bowl. It may sound like common sense, but only human waste, toilet paper and water are meant to go down the drain. You may think, “It's just a tiny bit of floss!” but be warned, it may cause a sewer system backup.

None of These Items Should Go Down Your Drain:

  • Wipes, including so-called “flushable” wipes
  • Kleenex
  • Floss
  • Paper towel
  • Q-tips
  • Cotton balls
  • Toys
  • Feminine hygiene products

3. Not Enough Water in the Toilet Tank

Most standard tanks hold between 6 and 13 litres of water. That's a lot! But it's needed to flush waste down the drain. If the tank isn't getting enough water, then it won't flush enough down into the bowl either. If this is happening, the most likely culprit is the toilet flapper. This controls how much water stays in the tank.

4. Your Water is Too Chlorinated or Too Hard

Did you know that Ottawa's water is considered “hard”? This means it has a lot of minerals in it, such as calcium. These minerals can get deposited within your pipes, causing issues with corrosion and creating clogged toilets. This is particularly an issue with older plumbing systems.

Chlorine is added to Ottawa's water supply to kill bacteria. However, it may cause issues with any rubber or plastic areas in your toilet—such as the flapper.

5. Problems With Your Pipework

Sometimes your toilet may work perfectly well, but there's a problem somewhere else in your plumbing system that's causing issues. For instance, if your main drain line is clogged, then your toilet may back up. Main drain lines (also known as sewer lines) can clog up due to an excess of items like:

  • Soap
  • Hair
  • Grease
  • Food scraps
  • Foreign objects
  • Tree roots

A good sign that you have a problem with the sewer line is if you notice other drains are clogged in your home. Alternatively, if each time you flush the toilet water backs up in your other appliances—such as your laundry or washing machine—that could indicate a clog as well. A clear sign of a backed-up main drain is if you smell sewage.

It's very important to call a professional plumber as soon as you see sewage line backup signs. This is the drain all the other drains in your home feed to, and the effects can be devastating if it floods.

6. Venting Issues

Proper airflow is very important for your drainage system to work correctly. It helps wastewater flow freely through the pipes, rather than forming a vacuum and forcing the water to a standstill. Sometimes clogged toilets might be caused by too much pressure in your home because of poor ventilation. If the ventilation pipe that runs up to your roof wasn't designed or installed properly, or if there's a blockage, it could affect your plumbing. Annual maintenance is an easy way to avoid that ventilation issue.

Hire Our Plumbing Pros Today!

Are you tired of dealing with clogged toilets? Or maybe your little one threw a bath toy down the drain? Whether it's a one-off or you're suffering from a frequently clogged toilet, it's time to call your local plumbing experts at Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Ottawa. Our experts have years of experience helping homeowners throughout Ottawa and the surrounding area, including in Gatineau, Gloucester and Lower Town—to name a few.

To book one of our pro plumbers today, we invite you to give our friendly office staff a call. We're open 24/7 to assist with your plumbing needs—even in an emergency.