Toilet clogs are frustrating, especially when the cause seems to be a recently replaced wax ring. The wax ring must be replaced every time the toilet becomes unstable or if the toilet is lifted away from the flange. Since the cause of the problem likely isn’t the replaced ring itself, you’ll want to take steps to address the problem without moving the toilet and without damaging the ring.
If you notice your toilet has started clogging after you’ve replaced its wax ring, these are the likely causes that will need to be addressed:
- Incorrect Wax Ring Installation
- Solid Blockage
- Air Pressure Blockage
- Drainage Problems
Using the methods outlined in this article, you may be able to get your wax ring and toilet functioning without having to call a plumber.
Was the Wax Ring Installed Correctly?
So, your toilet won’t flush after a recently replaced wax ring. The toilet may have been functioning perfectly before the replacement, but now it is not draining.
The recent installation of the wax ring seems to be the culprit. However, a damaged wax ring will usually result in puddles around the toilet base, not a clog.
Review the wax ring installation procedures to see the replacement was performed correctly. You can find detailed instructions here. If you have a new wax ring and puddles are not an issue, you can move forward.
Is There a Solid Blockage?
At first, it may seem unlikely that the clog is due to a solid blockage in the toilet itself or the surrounding bathroom plumbing. It will still help to perform these steps, as this may also solve an air pressure blockage. There are two simple ways to address a solid blockage without removing the toilet:
- Using a toilet plunger
- Using a drain snake
Using a toilet plunger gives the fastest results. The act of plunging will force air pressure through the drain. This pressure can disrupt a solid blockage but can also solve the problem of an air pressure blockage.
A more stubborn solid blockage can be removed using a drain snake. This tool consists of a long, thin arm capable of bending through the turns in a toilet drain. The snake you choose should be long enough to reach through the entire toilet to the drain on the floor, ensuring no block in the toilet itself.
A proper drain snake offers the advantage of gripping claws at the end of the snake’s arm. When the snake encounters a block, the snake’s handle can be turned to close the claws, gripping the offending material. This irritant can now be retrieved and disposed of.
If you need a visual to see how to use a toilet plunger or a drain snake, then check out this video. You’ll get several tips to make sure you remain safe and that you get the best results for your effort. Please note, we are not recommending the use of chemical cleaners. These are dangerous chemicals and will sit in a clogged drain; this becomes a safety hazard when exploring other methods.
Don’t Forget to Test!
Once you’ve performed either method, you can test the drainage by removing the toilet tank top and manually lifting the rubber plunger to allow a little bit of water into the toilet bowl. Both of these methods require equipment and can get a little messy.
Is it an Air Pressure Blockage?
You’ve tried the methods above, and your toilet still won’t flush. We now turn our attention to air pressure blockages, which can occur whenever work is performed on plumbing.
The drainage system of a bathroom should be ventilated to the outside to equalize air pressure. You can see these vents on the roofs of buildings. If the vent or its pipes are blocked, air pressure will stop water flowing into and away from the pipes. When the root cause is an air pressure blockage, it can affect nearby water drains such as a bathroom sink or a shower. This is a good time to check these drains as well.
Ask the following questions:
- Are you noticing any drainage issues in a nearby sink or shower drain?
- Is the sound of gurgling coming from any of these drains?
- Have you noticed backup coming from these drains?
- Do you smell sewer odors coming from any drain?
If you answered “yes” to any of the questions, you might very well be looking at an air pressure blockage. The following methods can be used to equalize the system and improve drainage throughout:
- Plunging and Snaking the Toilet Drain – These methods have already been covered. Try to exhaust these methods before moving on as they might eliminate a pressure blockage resulting from the wax ring install.
- Snaking the Plumbing Ventilation – This is similar to snaking a drain. The same tool used to snake the drain can be used for snake ventilation provided it has sufficient length.
When snaking a ventilation system, a drain snake is inserted into the outside vent until a block is encountered. The gripping claws on a snake are especially important because they allow the blockage to be pulled out of the system. Vents open to the outside of buildings, and plenty of items that don’t belong in plumbing can accumulate within.
Keep in mind that snaking the ventilation requires access to the vents themselves, often located on a building’s roof. If you’re uncomfortable with climbing out on your roof, you will want to consider calling a professional plumber now.
Once the ventilation is clear, don’t forget to test a small amount of water in the toilet bowl. For a full description of how a bathroom’s ventilation system works, including steps on how to unclog it, click here.
Please note, if you suspect that the problem is an air pressure blockage (especially if there’s gurgling in the drain), see to it immediately. Air pressure blockages can be a health hazard.
Is the Problem Further Down the Drainage System?
By now, we’ve moved beyond blockages in the toilet and the surrounding bathroom plumbing. The following are examples of other problems that can occur that will likely require professional help to resolve:
- Tree roots
- Cracks or holes in pipes
- Sewer system blockage
At this point, you should probably call a professional. They are capable of diagnosing and solving the issue using professional-strength tools and materials. They’re also willing to go places that might make you squeamish such as a rooftop or into the sewer.
Blockages can occur from time to time. Hopefully, this article has given you the confidence to solve the problem on your own without damaging your newly installed wax ring. For further prevention, consider the following:
- Solid blockages can be avoided by inspecting the toilet during the replacement of the wax ring. Once the toilet is secured, don’t flush any trash down the toilet, and keep the toilet lid closed to prevent accidentally dropping items into the toilet.
- Air pressure blockages can be avoided by keeping the plumbing ventilation unblocked. See that the vent has adequate protection. Clear any debris from the vent opening.
Remember to follow all safety guidelines. Happy plumbing!