One of the most embarrassing plumbing mistakes is accidentally clogging your toilet. It can be difficult to fix because of the many possible causes.

The good news? Most toilet clogs can easily be avoided with a little bit of prevention. Many more can be cleared up in a matter of minutes with vigorous plunging. For more complicated causes, however, it may be necessary to contact a local plumber.

These are some of the most common reasons your toilet could be blocked:

You Flushed the Wrong Stuff

The toilet is only for human waste and toilet paper. Flushing anything other than those parameters (e.g. cotton balls, cotton swabs or feminine products, diapers, and dental floss) is a risk.

These items will not break down or move like toilet paper if they get stuck in the drain line. If you feel the urge to flush other things, don’t. Talk to your children about what is flushable if they are.

A Jam in Your Trap

A trap is a U-shaped bend that is in all drain pipes and remains full of water. This water acts as a barrier to prevent foul odors from escaping the sewer line.

Although the trap in your toilet is very effective at keeping this job from happening, it can also make it a perfect place for a blockage to form. Even if you are careful about what you flush down the toilet, a buildup of too much toilet paper could cause a blockage.

Ineffective Flapper

You will see a rubber gasket in the bottom of your toilet tank lid. The flapper is what allows the water from the tank to drain into the bowl during flushing. You may experience a weak flush if the flapper does not open completely. This can lead to clogs because the bowl contents are not pushed down far enough. It is simple to fix. The flapper is attached to the flush arm by an adjustable chain. To shorten the chain, move it a few links and then try a test flush.

Older Low-Flow Toilets

Low-flow toilets have been a popular choice for water-conscious homeowners for many years. However, the original versions were not as powerful as those available today. Just like the flapper example above, low-flow toilets might not flush as hard as they should to get the contents through the pipes. You may need to upgrade if you are having problems with any of these older models.

Hit the Roof

If your toilet doesn’t flush properly, it could be that the problem isn’t with the drainpipe but rather in the vent. To allow fresh air to enter the plumbing system, fixtures usually vent to the roof of a house. This allows for the replacement of the water-draining vacuum. This can lead to slow, gurgling, or blocked drains in the bathroom, as well as clogging of the vent with leaves and debris. Professionals are best for this job because the vent must be removed from the roof opening.

The Bottom Line

The sewer line must be the cause of the problem if the source is not in the toilet, drain pipe, or vent. It is possible to have a serious problem in a sewer line that is located beneath private property. This can often lead to a lot of digging and labor.

The problem with your sewer line is not always due to the water that’s being pumped through it. Tree roots can cause pressure on the lines and eventually lead to a break. Ask your plumber to inspect the sewer line with a camera.