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Parts of a Drainage System and Causes of Clogged Toilet

You can probably put up with the occasional clogging of your kitchen sink, but having a clogged toilet is an entirely different story. There’s nothing more frustrating than dealing with a loo that won’t flush. It’s one of those serious home plumbing problems that you don’t want your family to experience even for just a day.

Unfortunately, toilet clogs aren’t easy to handle. The clean-up can be both lengthy and unpleasant. Apart from having to figure out what’s causing them, the repair needed can range from simple plunging to taking apart a portion or the whole drainage system. Here are some of the things you need to know when making decisions about your clogged toilet and other common plumbing issues.

Parts of the Toilet

The first step to fixing a clogged toilet is to identify the source of the clog. You can only achieve that if you have basic knowledge of the structure of the drainage system. Knowing its different components and how they function will give you an idea of where the source may be located. It can even help reduce the damage you have to inflict on your drainage system just to track down the source.

  • P-Trap

    – Ever wondered why the stinking smell of your home’s drainage system doesn’t leak out through your toilet? That’s the work of the P-trap, a P-shaped trap that connects your water closet to the drainpipe branches. Its purpose is to hold standing water to seal the drain system and prevent sewer gases from passing through.

  • Soil Stack

    – As you flush your toilet, the sewage is conveyed through the P-trap and the branch drain, then it falls into the house drain and sewer through the soil stack. This is a large-diameter vertical drainpipe that serves as the main conveyer of all sewage and wastewater produced in your home, including wastewater from all your sinks, not just the toilet.

  • Soil Stack Vent

    – To prevent backpressure within the drainage system, particularly in the soil stack and house drain, it has to be sufficiently ventilated. The soil stack is usually extended to the roof and kept open to outside air so that its upper portion may serve as a venting component.

  • House Drain

    – All sewage and wastewater transported through the soil stack ends in the house drain. This is the lowest point in the entire plumbing system of your home, which directly connects to the sewer.

  • Cleanout

    – The side of the house drain opposite the direction of flow normally extends upward with its end protruding from the basement floor. That end is temporarily closed with a cap or plug, which can be opened in case accessing the drainpipe is necessary. This extended portion is called the cleanout.

  • House Sewer

    – All kinds of plumbing waste go down the house sewer through the drainage system. This sewer is directly connected to the sewer main, which runs underneath the side of the road and conveys sewage and wastewater to treatment plants.

What Causes Blocked Toilet

Now that you have an idea of what makes up your home drainage system, it will be easier to determine where the clogging might be coming from. Generally, though, it might come from anywhere within the drainage system, so that’s where your focus should be, not elsewhere in the plumbing system. Checking the other systems comprising your home plumbing, such as the water distribution or gas system, may only be necessary if there’s a clear indicator of cross connection issues. Essentially, these are some of the main causes of clogged toilet.

  • Foreign Object Trapped in the Trap

    – When you flush the toilet and the water doesn’t go down, your best guess is that something must be stuck in the trap right underneath the commode, and in most cases, you’re right. You have to understand that the P-trap underneath your toilet is not a straight pipe, so flushing may not produce enough pressure to push hard objects toward the drainpipe. Even tissue and wipes may collect in the trap and prevent the flow of water.

  • Old Model Toilet

    – If you haven’t done any major renovation in your home for decades, it’s likely that your toilet belongs to the first-generation, low-flow models of the early 90s. These toilets were designed to flush with as little water as possible, which in turn minimizes the pressure needed to clear the trap. As a result, unflushed materials build up inside the trap and clog the toilet.

  • The Vent Stack Is Blocked

    – Another one of the obvious reasons why toilet is clogged has to do with air, not liquid. If after inspecting the trap and drainpipe you didn’t find any object blocking the path of water, the problem may be occurring from deep within the drainage system. An easy suspect is the vent pipe, considering that air is needed to maintain pressure in the drainage system. Without a vent, the drainage may suffer backpressure, which is a major cause of sewage backup. Make sure that the vent is free from clogs that block the path of air.

  • Clogged House Drain or Sewer

    – The problem may be coming from a much deeper source – the house sewer or drain. Roots of nearby trees may have invaded the sewer lines, trapping sewage and causing major clogging in the entire drainage system. It’s also likely that ground movement may have caused the sewer pipes to shift and sustain cracks. Over time, soil may have slowly entered the pipes through those cracks and clogged the system.

When you experience a clogged toilet, try to fix it using a plunger. If the clog persists after a few tries, it’s an indicator that you need a professional plumber’s help. Luckily, there are many experienced plumbing companies on the Sunshine Coast, such as FIXME Plumbing, that you can count on. In fact, toilet clogs are among their expertise so you can rest assured that they can deal with the problem effectively and safely.

Author: FIXME Plumbing