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7 tips to help you prevent and deal with a blocked toilet

A blocked toilet is not something you want to have to deal with. It is unpleasant, messy and can do a lot of damage. And while it’s rare for flushing toilets to block, it is best to do everything you can to reduce the possibility of it occurring.

Luckily, there are lots of preventative measures you can take to make sure that you keep your toilet limescale-free and in good flushing order. We’ve listed the top 7 things you need to do to prevent your toilet from blocking, as well as tips on what to do if it does start to clog up.

1. Careful what you put down there

Most blockages occur because something has been put down the toilet that should not have gone down there. So the very best way to avoid your toilet clogging is just to be careful and to make sure everybody in your household is aware that the toilet is not just a dustbin: you can’t throw everything away in there!

Guests also need to be aware of the dangers of a blocked toilet and this is where it can get a bit embarrassing. It’s hard to tell guests how to use the toilet and, if an accident does happen, guests may be too embarrassed to admit that they’ve dropped something inappropriate down there.

To avoid confusion and embarrassment, why not hang up a sign? Just to remind your guests and the rest of your household that things like sanitary towels, cotton balls, wet wipes and dental floss can cause blocked toilets and should be put in the bathroom bin instead.

Finally, if you are routinely experiencing problems, you might also consider changing your type of toilet paper. Thick 2-ply papers which purport to be more comfortable, can sometimes cause toilet cloggage, if a lot is used in one flush.

2. Regular cleaning

Regular cleaning and maintenance of your toilet is also a factor in keeping it from getting blocked. To ensure that the toilet is flushing with its full force (and therefore less likely to block), clean under the rim of the toilet bowl. The small holes where the water enters the bowl are located up here and can get blocked over time.

Once in a while, it is also a good idea to clean inside the cistern of your toilet (the toilet tank). if it is easily accessible. Toilet clogging problems can start here, if the build-up of algae gets to the point where it prevents the free flow of water, or if the mechanism starts to bung up. Using an in-tank tablet such as Bref Duo Cubes helps prevent the build-up of algae, but in addition is a good idea to empty your toilet tank and give it a good scrub once every year or so.

3. Keeping your toilet limescale free

Limescale is the main cause of unsightly brown stains on your toilet bowl and can contribute to toilet blockage by restricting the free-flow of material through the water trap (U-bend).

All water, but especially so-called ‘hard water’, contain minerals (such as calcium, lime, magnesium and iron) that are prone to stick and deposit themselves on the sides of pipes and toilet bowls. Limescale is formed as water evaporates and leaves these minerals behind. The deposits then attract dirt and bacteria as they slowly build up, layer by layer.

Not only is this limescale unsightly and unhygienic, it is also the cause of the narrowing of pipes and, thereby, potential blockages. The extent to which this is likely to be a problem for you depends on how hard the water is where you live. Even in areas with relatively soft waters, descaling your toilet is a good idea; in hard water areas it is essential.

Prevention of limescale build-up can be secured by the constant use of toilet rim blocks, as well as cubes in your toilet tank. These help fight the build-up of limescale in the first place and are very easy to install and maintain. The in-tank cubes are especially effective as they fight limescale build-up in your tank and in the small delivery holes under the rim of your toilet bowl, as well as the main part of the toilet.

If things have already past the point of no return and you want to know how to get rid of limescale in your toilet, then you need to get to work with Bref 10x Effect Power Gel. This acid-based toilet cleaner will cut through the stains and, with a bit of scrubbing, quickly remove all but the most hard-on limescale.

4. Always flush properly

The flushing toilet operates on the principle that a large body of water is released at once and therefore whisks away material in the toilet bowl and pushes it safely through the U-bend/water trap at the bottom. If the amount of water is inadequate then the force of it may not be sufficient to complete this process and something may get stuck.

Environmental concerns have led to ever tighter sanctioning of water usage in our toilets, with dual flush systems common, and many households placing bricks in their water tanks. These measures are usually successful, but it’s good to be aware that, if you do experience blockage after installing a water-saving device, then this could be the cause.

5. Early intervention

If something falls into your toilet, don’t be squeamish, dive in after it! It may sound horrible, but a few moments unpleasantness could save you a lot of trouble. Once that hair brush or toothpaste tube has disappeared up the other side of the U-bend, you’re going to have a big job getting it out.

Always keep a plunger by your toilet.
By the same token, it’s good to keep a plunger in your toilet at all times. Use it as soon as you think the toilet might be blocking, or when you know something has gone down there that should not have. A quick pump with the plunger will probably unclog any issues and have the drains running freely again.

Don’t flush the toilet when you have a problem!
It’s so tempting to try again when you flush the toilet and, instead of going away, the material in your toilet starts rising towards you. But this is the very worst course of action. At least wait until the water level drops down again, before you re-flush. Best, is to get straight in with a plunger and try and tackle the problem directly.

6. When to seek professional help

If a plunger isn’t doing the job and your toilet continues to be continually blocked, then it’s probably time to call in a professional, and the sooner the better. A blocked toilet is not only unhygienic, it is also a potential flood risk for you and your neighbours.

The dangers of a blocked toilet.
If a toilet overflows badly, it can wreck floor coverings, seep out into the rest of the house or even through floors to other rooms or flats. The liability is potentially substantial in the very worst case scenarios.

More commonly, a blocked toilet will just make a mess, smell bad and cause you considerable inconvenience and expense to get cleared.

A timely intervention by a professional could save you a great deal of trouble.

Blocked toilet?
Avoid unpleasantness and damage…
Know how to deal with it fast and safely

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