Why Does My Toilet Keep Clogging?

Seven Reasons Why a Toilet Keeps Clogging

A clogged toilet is one of those household inconveniences you’d probably like to avoid. Because nobody likes to unclog a toilet. (Well, except maybe plumbers, and it’s not that we like it so much as that it’s our job.)  

But, like it or not, a lot of people spend a lot of time unclogging their toilets repeatedly. Presumably, that’s one of the reasons why you are reading this blog post. If you’re wondering why your toilet keeps clogging, there are basically seven reasons why your toilet keeps clogging:

  • What you’re flushing down the toilet is causing the clogging
  • You have an old low-flow toilet
  • Something is wrong with the toilet flapper
  • The toilet’s trap is blocked
  • The drain line to the toilet could be clogged
  • The water line isn’t supplying enough water
  • You have hard water; hard water deposits are building up in the toilet

1. You’re Flushing Stuff You Shouldn’t 

You’d be surprised how many people don’t know that the only things meant to be flushed down a toilet are waste and toilet paper. That’s it! If your toilet keeps clogging, Ask yourself (or, more to the point, ask a family member, and yes we’re talking about your kids) whether you’ve ever flushed one of the following items:

      • Dental floss
      • Paper towels
      • Medicine
      • Hair
      • Facial tissues
      • Sanitary products
      • Diapers 
      • Cat litter

If you (or anyone in your family) is guilty of flushing any of these, make them stop. Actually, they may not confess to doing it, because they may think who is really going to know, so just ask nicely that they refrain from flushing anything that isn’t waste or toilet paper. 

This will definitely help keep your toilet running more smoothly, assuming everyone in the household is in compliance. If clogging continues, there are other possible issues.

2. You Have an Old Low Flow Toilet

Do you have an old low flow toilet? While designed to help conserve water usage in compliance with federal government mandates, some low flow toilets, especially those made in the 1990s, have such low pressure that they are prone to clogging. This is because many manufacturers merely reduced the size of their tanks to achieve the required water reduction; unfortunately, the smaller tanks don’t clear waste efficiently. If you find you are always double flushing your toilet on a regular basis just to get it to perform, chances are you have one of those toilets. Double flushing, however, won’t always clear a clogged toilet.

If you have an old low-flow toilet that isn’t performing, it may be time to install a new toilet with more flushing power to prevent clogs. 

3. Something is Wrong with the Toilet Flapper

The toilet’s flapper allows water to flow from the tank into the toilet bowl. It needs to

open all the way in order to release enough water to enable a proper flush each time. Which could lead to material remaining in the toilet that leads to clogging and additional flushing to clear it. This is not only annoying but wastes water.

This is usually something easy to fix. In many cases, you can adjust the chain leading from the flapper to the toilet flush handle. When you flush the toilet, the handle lifts the chain up, which in turn lifts the flapper, allowing the water to drain into the toilet by force of gravity and push whatever is in the bowl down into the drainpipe.

Remove the lid from the toilet tank to see if the flapper is operating properly. If it isn’t opening completely, shorten the chain to see if that helps the flapper open completely. 

Use a plastic paper clip to insert in the chain link and hook it to the metal circle that connects to the toilet flush handle. Make sure there is enough slack to ensure the flapper closes after the handle returns to its original position, but now short enough to open the flapper completely. 

Flappers are typically made of rubber and over time can deteriorate. If the flapper still isn’t opening as it should check to see if the flapper hinges are loose or degraded in some way. You may need to replace the flapper with a new one.

Replacing a flapper isn’t really a big project, even for someone who isn’t particularly handy. It’s just a matter of draining water from the upper toilet tank, turning off the water supply, disconnecting and removing the old flapper, and installing and connecting the new one. 

But if this sounds like something you’d rather not attempt, we here at Benjamin Franklin Plumbers are happy to perform the work for you.  

4. The Toilet Trap is Blocked

The toilet trap is a curved pipe that sits between the toilet and the drain. It functions to keep sewer smells and gase from seeping back up into the toilet and into your home. Something that gets stuck into your trap (see Flushing Stuff You Shouldn’t above) causes a clogged toilet.

This is when you’ll want to whip out your handy dandy toilet plunger. Take the plunger and make sure it covers the entire toilet opening, then move back and forth. This suction motion should help remove whatever may be causing the clog within the trap.

If that doesn’t work, then it’s time to brush up on 7 Ways to Unclog Your Toilet. Otherwise, you may have a problem further down the line. 

5. The Toilet Drain Line is Clogged

If the trap is not the source of the toilet clog, you may have to tackle unclogging your toilet’s drain line. You can do this using a chemical solution that’s designed to open drains—just make sure it has lye in it.

When pouring a drain opener following the specific instructions listed on the back of the solution. If that doesn’t get rid of the toilet clog, it could be that the culprit is another drain line in your house, such as the line connected to your laundry room. Because this could also affect the sewage system, it may be best to call on a professional plumber to check each drain line if you think this could be the source of the problem.

6. The Water Line Isn’t Supplying Enough Water

Check your toilet tank to make sure there’s enough water in to perform a successful flush. If the water level seems low, you need to adjust your water supply line. 

You can raise the water level in your tank by using a screwdriver to turn clockwise the metal or plastic arm attached to the float inside your toilet tank. The higher the float rises, the higher the water level rises.

If your toilet utilizes a vertical fill valve, raising the water level is slightly different. Simply squeeze the clip on top of the metal bar that’s attached to the fill valve. Pull up the fill valve as high as you can before letting go.

It could also be the case that the fill valve has gone bad. If you hear a whistling noise from the toilet, or sounds of constant running water, you need to replace it.

7. Your Toilet Has Hard Water Build Up

Hard water deposits can impair a toilet’s flushing power. A sure sign of hard water is white buildup near the portholes under the rim of your toilet. If this is the case, follow the steps below to clear the buildup.

  1. Use a wire hanger to scrape off the deposits. 
  2. Prepare a mixture of 1 part muriatic acid, 10 parts water.  
  3. Pour this solution down your toilet’s overflow tube. 
  4. Wait 30 minutes, then repeat again to remove the hard water deposits.

You can expect hard water buildup to reoccur. If you wish to avoid the periodic task of removing it, consider getting a water softener conditioner.

Still Can’t Unclog Your Toilet? – Call a Plumber

If you still can’t unclog your toilet, it’s time to call in a professional plumber to repair or replace your toilet. Benjamin Franklin technicians are knowledgeable in all the latest technology and installation techniques. When you call us, the punctual plumbers, you can rest assured that we will be your partner throughout the installation process, helping you choose the right toilet for your needs.


We take to heart the words of our namesake, Benjamin Franklin, who famously said, “It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.”  We’ve built our company around bringing a higher level of excellence to every customer experience. Benjamin Franklin Plumbing and our licensed plumbers proudly offer an on-time guarantee and a 100 percent customer satisfaction guarantee to meet all your plumbing service needs. Because we’re locally owned and operated, our plumbers are familiar with the plumbing challenges you face. If there’s any delay in providing your service, we pay!

Benjamin Franklin Plumbing answers your service calls 24 hours a day at 800-259-7705. Or go online to request an appointment.