When you have a clogged toilet, but you don’t need to use it right away, you might wonder if you can just wait and let the clog sort itself out. Will a toilet eventually unclog itself? It sure would be nice, but it’s fairly rare for a toilet’s clog to clear up after a few hours. It can happen, but only in select circumstances. Here’s what you need to know about whether your toilet will unclog itself.
Which Clogs Might Clear Themselves?
When a toilet has a clog made of water-soluble materials, it has a chance of slowly dissolving in the water and freeing up the toilet to work properly again. So, clogs that are primarily made of toilet paper can clear themselves. So can clogs made of feces, which is mainly composed of water and will, on a long enough timeline, dissolve.
The issue is that many toilet clogs are made of materials that are not soluble in water. Fats, oils and starches from foods won’t break down. Neither will so-called flushable wipes, diapers, menstrual products, and many of the other common toilet-clog culprits.
It’s also not true that enough pressure from the water on top of the clog will force it to clear itself. You need to apply pressure to move a clog, and sometimes all this does is get it stuck further down the pipe, where it is harder for your plumber to access. If a clog doesn’t dissolve, it will need some effort to be removed.
Why You Shouldn’t Wait to Handle a Clog
Waiting to deal with your toilet’s clog for a few hours can be harmless. But, waiting longer than that can cause some issues that you probably want to avoid, including:
- Overflows: Some toilets have small leaks that run all of the time. If your clogged toilet does, after a few hours, you may return to a toilet that is overflowing, even though you didn’t flush it.
- Bacteria growth: The water sitting in your toilet can be contaminated with bacteria. By allowing it to sit around for hours, you’re giving the opportunity for the bacteria to multiply. This can be a health hazard, especially if the toilet overflows after the water in it has been sitting around.
- Smells: Of course, a toilet clog will likely begin to smell unpleasant if you leave it alone for a few hours.
- Worsening clog: If your clog is made of mostly non-water soluble materials, it can become worse and more compacted overtime. The small number of water-soluble bits leave it, and the fats or oils in the pipe fill in the gap.
Sometimes clogs that appear to have resolved themselves have just turned into partial clogs as the water-soluble bits break away from the parts that are not water-soluble. There’s a high chance that a new clog will form from the particles that stuck around.
When you have a toilet clog, it’s always best to reach out to the professionals to get a safe and complete solution to your problem.