How to Use a Toilet Auger: A Step-By-Step Guide

A toilet auger is a basic bathroom tool, but you probably don’t use it frequently. That’s why we get this question a lot: How to use the toilet auger?

Some would say it’s simple — just put the tool in your toilet and drill. But there’s more to it than that, so we’ll show you a step-by-step guide on using your toilet auger.

How to Use a Toilet Auger

Toilet augers are simple tools that fix a clogged toilet more efficiently than a toilet plunger. This is because, unlike plungers, they can go deeper into the drainpipe and eliminate hard-to-reach clogs.  

The tool has different names — a plumbing snake, a closet auger, and even a toilet drain drill. Some use these names interchangeably, but we’ll stick to the most common to avoid confusion. 

The thing that matters most is that toilet augers are easy to use. 

Before getting to work, remember that toilet augers work best with clogs from human waste and toilet paper. They go through the clog and quickly break it up.

You can also use augers to pull out kid’s toys or other hard objects that fall into the toilet drain. However, if there is a problem with the entire neighborhood’s sewer system, your auger probably won’t help. 

In this case, you’d see brown water in the toilet even the sinks and tubs. Your utility provider would have to address the issue as they have the tools and know-how to deal with the problem.  

But this is a specific scenario — dealing with a clogged toilet is something you can do all on your own. See our eight steps to using a toilet auger below.

Step 1: Turn Off the Water Supply

The first thing you’ll need to do is turn off the water supply. When you’re dealing with a toilet clog, the last thing you want is to accidentally flush and cause an overflow of the toilet bowl.

You will find the water shutoff valve behind the tank — it has a small knob suitable for turning clockwise. Turn the shutoff valve to close the water supply.

If doing this is too hard, use penetrating oil to loosen the knob. We suggest spraying WD-40 because it untightens even the sturdiest metal parts in just a few minutes. After that, it should be easy to turn off the water to your toilet.

Step 2: Remove Waste From the Bowl

If your toilet smells like urine, or if you see waste in it, do your best to remove the dirty water and debris from the toilet bowl before moving on. Use a small bucket to empty the toilet, but make sure to wear rubber gloves. 

Collect waste carefully and remember to ventilate the bathroom. 

It’s an ugly task, but it will save you from overflow and spilling waste on your floor.

Sometimes, anything could be in the bowl — from cat litter, to feces, to baby wipes. You can use a toilet brush to clean some debris, and a small bucket to help you remove hard waste from the toilet bowl.

Step 3: Push the Auger Into the Toilet Bowl

Thus begins the auger show! 

First, you need to insert the toilet auger into the bowl so that you can start breaking up the clog. Grab the middle part with your left hand while holding the handle with your right hand. It helps you control the tool while pushing. 

There’s a short distance from the bottom of the bowl to the first bend of the toilet trap, so don’t push too hard when starting.

The plumbing snake has a sharp spiral top that breaks through clogs, but it can also damage the bowl’s pipes and porcelain surface. Your job is to insert the auger into the drain and give it a slight push.

Let the drill go as deep as possible without pressing it too fiercely. The good thing is that toilet augers have a couple of protective casings to help protect your toilet — a rubber elbow and a middle tube. 

Step 4: Rotate the Handle

The auger cable is long, but you can control it using a handle. This lets you rotate your tool to push it down into the toilet drain.

You can rotate the handle in the clockwise direction to increase the pressure of the flexible cable. But be sure to do it gradually — if you use too much force at once, you risk drilling through the plumbing pipes.

Step 5: Wiggle the Drill When It Reaches the Clog

The toilet auger works by breaking up the clog and extracting it from the drain using a spiral-shaped end. Any clog leftovers will travel through the drainpipe and go straight into the sewer.

Your auger cable will likely halt when it reaches the hard clog. This is a sign to wiggle the flexible cable and push it forward slowly to break up the waste blockage. 

Once the clog is broken up, the drill will continue its journey down the drain before you remove it.

Step 6: Pull Out the Tool

Now that your toilet drain is free of blockages again, you’ll see the waste disappearing rapidly from the bowl. This means you can pull out the toilet auger by rotating it.

Remember not to pull it too hard — your drain pipes are curved, so you could damage them with sharp metal edges of the toilet auger. This is particularly important if you have PVC pipes because they crack easily. 

Be patient and pull out the auger slowly. 

If you notice that the auger is stuck, don’t pull it harder. Instead, do the opposite and give it a slight push. This should free it and allow you to remove it without resistance.

As the cable is coming out, you’ll see leftover waste coming with it. Be prepared for this — it’s unpleasant, but it shows that your auger did a fine job unclogging the toilet.

Step 7: Test Your Toilet

It is now time to test your toilet. Your toilet auger broke up the clog in the outlet drain, but you need to flush at least once to make sure. Flush the toilet and watch carefully — the water should go out quickly because you removed the clog. 

But that’s now always the case. If the water still drains too slowly, you should repeat the drilling process.

After that, there should be no clogs whatsoever. Your pipes will once again be clear enough to reliably handle feces, urine, and toilet paper.

Step 8: Clean the Auger

After everything it’s been through, you can imagine that the toilet auger needs a thorough clean. Use water and your favorite detergent to disinfect everything — dish soap should work fine, but you can use other cleaning products as well.

After that, use a piece of dry cloth to wipe and dry the auger cable — this will make the tool clean and ready for use whenever it may be needed. Remember to secure the tool — you can place it in its package or cover it with a rag. 

That way, you won’t get hurt if you bump into this sharp tool.

Finally, put the toilet auger in a place where you can find it quickly in case of any future toilet emergencies (like your garage).

Why Does Your Toilet Clog?

Your toilet probably clogs because you throw non-flushable objects in it. Human waste and toilet paper can hardly clog the toilet because they are organic and water-soluble. However, almost all other items have clogging potential.

Here’s a list of possible culprits:

  • Q tips get stuck in the toilet trap, creating blocks and stopping other waste from passing through
  • Paper towels seem flushable, but they do not break down in water quickly enough to move through your pipes
  • Food and hair are organic, but they also dissolve too slowly and will clog your toilet
  • Hygiene products like tampons and condoms are not water-soluble and are notorious for easily clogging your toilet

If you want to prevent clogging, don’t flush anything else but toilet paper — it’s the only thing that dissolves properly. All other items will force you to use the toilet auger sooner or later.

The Bottom Line

Do you know how to use a toilet auger? It’s not as hard as it may seem!

The drill only takes eight simple steps to unclog your toilet, so don’t hesitate to give it a try. You’ll see it’s easy when you grab your toilet auger and remove that annoying clog from the drainpipe.

FAQ

Do augers work in a toilet?

Yes, augers work in a toilet because they break down clogs with ease. With its sharp and spiral-shaped end, the auger runs through the drainpipe and removes hard waste blockades from it.   

Can the toilet auger make the clog worse?

It is highly unlikely that a toilet auger will make a clogged toilet even worse. The purpose of the plumbing snake is to drill through the clogs — and the tool is so sharp that it spears through even the hardest of debris.

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