A clogged toilet is one of the most unpleasant challenges a homeowner can face, and usually not one that can wait. While pouring a liquid drain cleaner such as Drano into the toilet to clear the clog may seem like a good idea, it is not advisable for several reasons.
Liquid Drain Cleaners
Liquid drain cleaners are designed to work on sink, shower and tub drains. They do not work well on toilets because of the way toilets are made. Liquid drain clog removers work by breaking up whatever debris is causing the clog. However, clogs in toilets usually form beyond the top of the S-trap, which controls how much water is in the toilet bowl. When you pour a liquid drain cleaner into a toilet bowl, the liquid will remain in the bowl, where it is not in contact with the material that has clogged the toilet. Since the drain cleaner does not touch the clog, it cannot dissolve it. Also, liquid drain cleaners are not formulated to dissolve the materials that usually cause a toilet to clog.
The manufacturers of Drano are among those that make a product that will help prevent a slow-running toiled from becoming clogged. The product contains microorganisms that break down toilet paper and organic matter that has become attached to the insides of pipes. Choked-up pipes are narrower than normal pipes and may prevent the water from flowing quickly enough to move the matter that is being flushed away through the toilet trap. Removing the gunk from the pipes therefore helps prevent clogs. Read the manufacturer's instructions to determine how much of the product to use and how often. Usually the product needs to sit in the pipes for six to eight hours in order to be effective, so it is a good idea to use it before you go to work in the morning or before you retire at night.
How to Unclog a Toilet
The best method for unclogging a toilet is generally the simplest — use a plunger designed specifically for the task. A plunger allows you to push the water in the bowl of the toilet down into the drain with force. You may have to plunge a few dozen times to finally clear the clog, but it is worth the effort, since this method is very inexpensive and avoids putting more chemicals into the public waste water system or into your septic system.
A final reason not to use a liquid drain cleaner in a toilet is that it will remain in the bowl, since you cannot flush the toilet. If you then decide to try a plunger to clear the clog, you run the risk of splashing the caustic liquid drain cleaner on your hands or arms or into your face.