Will a Toilet Eventually Unclog Itself? What Happens if You Leave it Clogged?

The toilet can clog for all types of reasons. Bulky toilet paper being forced down the trap way of the toilet can clog the toilet, foreign objects like metal and plastic, feminine products like wipes and sanitary towels, oils, and other forms of trash can also block the toilet.

Yes, a toilet can actually unclog itself, however, several factors come into play. They include the type of clog, the size of the clog, the type of toilet you have, and how long it’s been since you noticed the clog.

Leaving the toilet to unclog itself, is perfectly fine, but it can also be risky as the toilet may overflow or other waste and water outlets in the house could be affected too. Read more as we go into further details.

Factors that will determine if a Toilet can Unclog Itself.

As mentioned above, four main factors come into play. You simply can rule out all cases the same, therefore, these factors have to be considered;

  • The type of clog
  • The size of the clog
  • The type of toilet you have
  • How much time has lapsed

Type of Clog

A clogged toilet will unclog itself after some time if and only if the waste is biodegradable. If the blockage is from anything else, then the waste will likely remain blocked for as long as you don’t unclog it.

Biodegradable waste means its water solvent. Hence, it will eventually unclog itself after the water has saturated the waste enough for it to break apart and unclog.

Water pressure in the pipe can also put pressure on the waste eventually clearing the pipe. Biodegradable waste includes tissue paper and human waste.

Non-biodegradable waste such as metal, plastic, feminine products such as pads, tampons, diapers, wet wipes, and other types of tissue such as paper towels.

These products do not break down easily as the bacteria works much slower to decompose. Metal and plastic may never break down.

This means such clogs will not unclog themselves no matter how long you wait it out.

It’s crucial to note that some flushable items such as tampons and probably diapers are biodegradable but they could last as long as six months in the drain so it’s better to be safe than sorry. The best thing is to find a way to retrieve them to dispose of them properly.

Tissue Clogged toilet

Size of the Clog

The size and weight of what you have flushed down the toilet also matter since items such as small pellets of soap or those fabric conditioners may not clog the toilet, but a toothbrush, pegs, large chunks of soaps, and others might.

So it doesn’t matter if the item is small enough to go down the drain, it’s more about if the waste should be there in the first place. 

If you have a large-sized clog, you could use a plunger or a snake as it’s better than leaving it to clear itself. Smaller pieces of waste can however be left to unclog such as leftover soap, small pieces of plastic, and more.

The Type of Toilet

Different brands manufacturer their toilets differently. This is not about it looks but how the trap way is designed. Large trap way toilets such as those from American Standard toilets have large trap ways which can most certainly guarantee no clogs in your drain.

But other toilets have smaller trap ways that even struggle to pass water after a flush. Such type of toilets will have a harder time unclogging waste by themselves. They need more assistance such as using a plunger or a snake, or more home remedies like chemical, Epsom salt, or a plastic wrap.

How Much Time Has Elapsed

The reason you’re probably reading this article is to know whether if you keep waiting it out the clog will eventually dissolve. Well, if you have waited over three to five hours, you’re looking at a clog that won’t break apart by itself.

Most clogs only last a few hours after which the waste gives in and the pipes are cleared. But the longer it lasts, the less likely it is to dissolve itself.

Is it Bad to Leave a Clogged Toilet Overnight?

Yes, you could be accelerating the plumbing issue. The average time you can leave the clog unattended is about three to five hours, after that, the clog could mean it’s not a water-soluble biodegradable waste so it won’t be unclogging itself without assistance.

Leaving the toilet clogged overnight has no immediate side effects. That means you shouldn’t even have scents in the bathroom unless the clog happened with stool in it.

However, the toilet could begin to overflow with water or wastewater can start to back up in the toilet or other outlets. In this case, do not leave it overnight. Leaving the toilet overnight is a risk that could go both ways, but you’re most likely looking at worse case scenario than before.

What Happens if you Leave a Toilet Clogged for Days?

Overnight will be a stretch, days will be too much time and not worth it. As mentioned above, if the clog hasn’t resolved overnight or in a day, the waste probably isn’t biodegradable. That means you’re looking for foreign objects stuck in the pipe, that could easily affect other pipes in the house.

Unless you’re not at home those next few days to know if the toilet is still clogged. Don’t leave it unclogged that long, you could be causing harm rather than good.

Another thing is the fact that you could be staying in a rental apartment. That means several other people share the sewer line with you and could be affected if you leave the toilet unattended. Water won’t pass freely to the sewer and a blockage easily spreads to other outlets and houses in the apartment block.

What is Recommended?

You can leave the toilet to unclog itself. But after several hours, it’s recommended that you move to unclog the blockage with alternative methods such as;

  • Plunging
  • Use of a toilet auger or snake
  • Use of chemical or enzyme drain cleaners
  • Diy methods such as dish soap, shampoo, hot water, baking soda, vinegar, Coca-Cola, and plastic wrap/ cling film.

Either one of these methods above has its techniques for removing the clog in the drain. Don’t let the toilet remain as it is like the water coming from the other water outlets may get obstructed from reaching the main sewer pipe.

This means there will be water backing up to the other water outlets, and bad scents and toxic gases coming from the drains.

The worst-case scenario is a bust in the pipe as you continue to feed wastewater into the sewage pipes while there’s a clog in the drain.

Too much pressure will surely give way to busts especially if the house is fitted with plastic polypropylene or ABS drainage pipes.

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