'Don't panic': Here's what to do when you've clogged someone else's toilet

Lots of embarrassing things can happen in a bathroom, but none are worse than clogging someone else's toilet!

So what do you when you're flushed — but the toilet's not? To bail you out of this awkward situation, we asked Mr. Rooter franchisee Jamie Smith of Baltimore for some professional plumbing tips. Even if you're not a gambler, he knows the surest way to get a straight flush.


"The first thing to remember when you clog the toilet in another person's house is to breathe, stay calm and don't panic," advises Smith with a chuckle.

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If the water looks like it's heading for the rim, shut off the water valve behind the toilet by turning the knob to the right. ("Righty, tighty. Lefty,loosey" is the plumber's mantra.)

If for some reason you cannot shut off the water valve, don't keep flushing the toilet because chances are that it will overflow and you'll be worse off than you were before.

Next, says Smith, look around the bathroom for a plunger. Unless you know what you're doing, once you find it, don't just start plunging. Take your time and use the plunger correctly. Otherwise, it can't do its job.

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Here's how to plunge like a plumber:

  • Make sure you get a good connection between the plunger and the toilet. (Plumbers call this a "good seal.")
  • Once the connection's established, begin plunging up and down with a good amount of force. Take care not to lift the plunger away from the bottom of the toilet bowl or you'll break the connection.
  • Be quick and repetitive with the plunging motion. This will establish a suction force that will push through whatever is blocking the drain pipe.
  • Keep an eye out for movement in the toilet which means the blockage is being pushed through.
  • Once you're sure the water is draining, turn the water valve on, allow the tank to fill, then flush the toilet. Swish the plunger in the fresh water for a quick cleaning before leaving. Flush again.

If all your efforts fail, or if there is no plunger in the bathroom, swallow your pride and discreetly tell the host about your dilemma. Ask for a plunger and volunteer to do the labor--after all, now you know how to do it like a pro.