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Unclog a Toilet Cost

The average cost of unclogging a toilet is around $400.

In this guide

Cost factors
Causes
Location of the clog
Professional unclogging methods
Labor
How to prevent future clogs
Additional considerations and costs
FAQ

How much does it cost to unclog a toilet?

The average person makes 2,500 trips to the toilet every year. No wonder things sometimes go wrong. Toilets are meant to last for decades with little or no fuss. But that doesn’t mean that they are always free of issues. If you notice that your toilet is becoming clogged more than once or twice a month, it may be time to have a professional take a look and see where the problem lies. After all, solving clogging issues now will inevitably save you both money and trouble in the future.

Toilet clogs can be caused by many different factors which affect the price of repair. In most cases, however, clogs are caused by foreign objects lodged in the fixture and it costs about $400 to clear using an electric auger or hydro jet procedure. This price includes dismantling the toilet and putting it all back together again at the end of the job.

Cost factors

There are a lot of things that can impact the price of a clogged toilet repair.

  • Number of clogs in the house. The more clogs in your home, the more it is going to cost you to repair. Multiple clogs usually mean a much bigger problem to be dealt with. In addition, the more appliances the plumber must review and clear, the more time it is going to take, which increases the bill.
  • Diagnosis. When the cause is not easily identified, the professional may suggest using a waterproof plumbing camera to see what is inside your sewer line 1. While the service can cost $300-$400, it does tend to safely and accurately uncover the problem.
  • The seriousness of the problem and correction method used. Pulling a child’s toy out of the toilet is usually fairly simple and will run between $150 and $300, depending on whether or not the plumber must disassemble (and reassemble) the fixture or simply snake the piping. Larger sewer clogs are more complicated to clear and run as much as $600 depending on how easy it is to access the clog. Sometimes a simpler method called hydro jetting can accomplish the task for about $400. Of course, corroded or damaged main sewer lines could cost thousands to fix.
  • Disassembling and reassembling the toilet. Taking a toilet apart takes time, and with most plumbing professionals charging $45-$150 an hour, anything that takes more time to complete the project is going to add cost to the repair job.
  • Accessibility of the pipes. Pipes that are easily accessible are easier and less time-consuming to fix. If, however, your plumber is forced to crawl underneath the house or dig up your yard to reach the clog, it’ll cost you more.
  • Type of toilet. Most households feature a standard style toilet, which is generally attached to the pipes in the floor. But, in some cases a more sophisticated toilet design can make it more difficult to repair. For instance, wall-mounted toilets may look tankless, but they really have a tank installed inside of the wall. This can make access more difficult. Tankless toilets are usually hooked straight to the pipe in the floor, making accessibility simpler. Plus they feature a wider pipe which is both harder to clog and easier to unclog.
  • Pipe materials. The cost of cleaning out a clogged pipe can be affected by what it is made of. For instance, galvanized pipes often break down over time, which may require replacing parts or all of the piping. They are usually replaced when a repair is needed (which increases the cost of the job). If you need to replace sections of the piping and want to do it with original materials, the type of pipe can have a big impact on your budget. For instance, plastic PVC piping cost about 37% less than other piping materials, with copper being the most expensive. Other materials that are commonly used in plumbing today include PEX and ABS pipes.

Causes

Toilet clogs can be caused by something simple, like using too much of the wrong kind of toilet paper, or something more serious, like your main sewer line becoming damaged or infiltrated.

In most cases, a blocked toilet is the result of someone flushing something they shouldn’t. Small children are infamous for flushing toys and other materials down the toilet, but they are not the only ones in the house to blame. Adults, too, sometimes flush things they shouldn’t, like feminine hygiene products, tissues, wrappers. Then there are things like toothpaste caps, hair accessories, and cotton swabs that accidentally fall into the toilet and get flushed. Even too much toilet paper (or poop) can clog a toilet.

Hard water 2 can also be the cause of toilet backups. It is full of minerals like calcium, which, over time, get deposited into the drain pipe, clogging it. Too much chlorine 3 can also be a problem. Chlorine is added to public water works to kill bacteria, but can damage the plastic or rubber parts in the toilet. This can keep it from flushing properly, preventing a complete flush-out of debris. This will ultimately cause leftover debris to become clogged.

Location of the clog

The cost of unclogging a toilet will depend a great deal on where that clog is located. Basic clogs found in the toilet, tank, or line running from the toilet itself are the simplest and least expensive to fix (averaging $150-$300). This is because they are easily located and can be cleared by using a basic auger or snake. For instance, a blocked trap, which is that curved section of the toilet which attaches the tank to the pipes in the floor or wall, is easily clogged due to its s-shape. It is designed to curve to keep sewer gasses out and water in. Unfortunately, it tends to “trap” items (like toilet tissue) as well as water and gasses, causing clogs.

Harder-to-reach clogs in the drain lines located throughout or under the house may require more than just a snake to clear them. In some cases a high-powered jet of water must be used to break up clogs. This type of hydro jet treatment requires specialty tools and knowledge, and can run $400 or more for the average clog. When multiple drain lines must be cleared, the cost can rise to about $600.

Not every clog starts in the bathroom. Blocked plumbing vents can also be the problem. When you are battling a clogged toilet, you rarely think to check the roof, but sometimes the problem starts there. Roof vents help to keep air flowing through the system (and allowing air vacuums to form), but when they become clogged by leaves, sticks, or even snow, they can keep a toilet inside of the house from flushing correctly. The cost to clear vent stacks is usually less than $200.

The worst toilet clogs are caused by a jammed up or broken main sewer line. Sewer lines outside of the house can become blocked, which will keep waste from exiting. The most common cause of a blocked sewer line is tree roots. If you live in a house built before 1950, the odds are good you have at least some lines made of fired clay. These sewer lines tend to deteriorate over time, making it easy for tree roots to infiltrate them, causing blockages. This is a hefty-priced repair, costing $600 to several thousand dollars since it is the hardest to find. In most cases, a camera must be inserted into the main sewer line 1 to enable the plumber to locate the clog. Once found, the pipes must be uncovered from the ground, which involves a digging crew, and then the pipe fixed. With so many variables needed to complete this type of job, the cost can easily escalate.

Professional unclogging methods

Once your plumber has figured out where the clog to your toilet originated, he will be able to choose the best remedy for fixing the problem. Here are some of the most basic toilet-unclogging remedies he has to choose from:

Sewer snake

Sewer snakes can be a great method for clearing away small,or even medium-sized, clogs. The plumber simply inserts the snake into the drain and continues to feed the line until it reaches the blockage. Once found, a small auger attached to the end of the snake helps to dislodge the debris. While it can be an effective method for unplugging a clogged toilet, it usually is not a permanent solution since it isn’t able to scrape away debris stuck to the sides of the pipe. The typical cost for snaking one toilet is $150-$200.

Electric power auger

Electric power augers 4 are electric plumbing snakes 4 which may be able to clear away clogs faster than manual style ones, but they can also cause damage to your pipes. A professional plumber knows what size and style of electric auger to use to help preserve the integrity of the pipe, but remember that these tools are powerful and older or weakened pipes may not be able to handle the intensity of the clean-out. The typical cost for using an electric auger on one toilet is $300.

Hydro jetting

Sometimes your toilet clog is caused by a buildup in the pipes. This can be leftover feces, grease, soaps, or even hair. When a snake or auger is unable to break it free, a hydrojet may be useful. Using a high-powered spray of water, the plumber is able to pressure wash away any buildup within the pipes, clearing away clogging materials. While it does best on greasy buildups, it doesn’t always work well on other types of clogs. Additionally, if you live in an older home with older pipes, the pressure from the hydrojet can actually cause them to break or leak. The typical cost of this method is around $400.

Opening the clogged pipe

In the event a snake, electric auger, or hydro jet doesn’t fix the problem, your plumber may opt to open up the pipe and manually take out the blockage. This is usually only done when you and the plumber are certain a lodged object is to blame for the toilet clog. Sometimes a small camera is inserted through the drain to locate the blockage, with the plumber opening the pipe at the nearest seam 5. A messier and more complicated clearing method, opening the pipe takes more time and also requires welding or replacing that section of the pipe. When it comes to unclogging a pipe in your home this way, you can expect to pay around $600.

Labor

Many people mistakenly believe that they can handle unclogging a toilet themselves. While this may be true for small plumbing emergencies, more often than not, a professional who knows how to deal with a variety of plumbing problems is needed. First, plumbers are trained to detect and fix all sorts of plumbing issues including corroded and leaking pipes, clogged vents, and broken drainage or sewage lines. Secondly, they have the proper tools for doing the job quickly, efficiently, and safely. Trying to handle his job on your own may end up costing you hundreds or thousands more and cause your household even more headaches.

Depending on what is causing the toilet clog, your plumber may charge a flat fee (usually around $150) that includes labor and materials, or may opt to charge an hourly rate of $45-$65.

Typical toilet repairs take less than two hours, but larger ones like drain line repair, which require pipes to be fixed or replaced could take a day or more and require other professionals to be called in (like an excavator or landscaper).

How to prevent future clogs

A clogged toilet can be a real hassle, and the best way to prevent dealing with this messy situation is to learn what can and cannot be flushed. Basically, the only two safe things to flush are human waste and toilet paper, and even too much of either of these can cause a problem.

Be sure to use only enough toilet paper as is needed to get the job done. Avoid those large wads of paper. While the outer amount will disintegrate in the water, the hard-packed wad can sit in your drain, eventually clogging it.

Be sure to never flush anything else down the toilet, since it can block the pipes. If possible, remove shelving placed above the toilet. It is common for items to fall off and into the toilet where they are accidentally flushed; causing blockages.

One of the best ways you can prevent future clogs is to keep an eye out for slow drains. This is the first sign that something is keeping the water from flowing properly. Attack those slow-draining toilets right away and avoid a clogged appliance later.

Additional considerations and costs

When it comes to fixing a clogged toilet, there are a lot of things that can impact the price. Here are a few extra things to think about:

  • Permits. Some municipalities require service providers to obtain a working permit in their borough. Other than that, no other permit or license is usually necessary for indoor work. Keep in mind, though, that if your clog originates from the main sewer line and you must dig it up to handle the repair a building permit may be needed. Be sure to check with your local zoning office before commencing this type of work.
  • DIY. Many people make the mistake of believing that a clogged toilet is an easy fix. While it is true that small clogs can be handled on your own, in most cases it is advisable to call in a plumber. Certain chemicals can be used to help attack the clog, but be careful, these products are corrosive and can burn the skin or cause breathing issues. If used improperly they can even damage your toilet and pipes, and they should never be used around children! Also, before trying a snake to unclog the drain yourself, be sure you know how to use the device. Otherwise you may crack the pipe, causing an even bigger problem.
  • Address the problem soon. The longer you wait to solve the problem, the worse it is likely to get. Why? Because small clogs trap even more debris causing bigger clogs. Particularly if the problem is being caused by a sewer line break, not dealing with it promptly can lead to stopped water flow throughout your house; cause gross backups; and even allow bacteria back into your home.
  • Precautions. Even the smallest toilet clog can make a big mess. If the toilet is overflowing, it is usually a good idea to shut off the water at the back of the tank. If, however, you notice other clogs forming throughout the house, or sewage is seeping into sinks and tubs, shut off the main water supply until the plumber arrives.
  • Sewer line repair or replacement. If the cause of your blocked toilet turns out or be a damaged sewer line, you will need to repair or replace it right away. This can cost anywhere from $600 for a small repair, to thousands for a full replacement. Replacing part or all of the main sewer line is usually required when old clay pipes have eroded and collapsed, or the roots from a nearby tree have infiltrated the line. The job requires a variety of steps (and professionals) to complete, including someone to expose the line under the ground ($200-$500), a plumber to replace the piping ($45-$65 per hour), and a landscaper to fix the yard after the job is done at a cost of $45-$75 per  hour, plus materials.

FAQ

  • How much will a plumber charge to unclog a toilet?

The typical cost to unclog a toilet runs from $150-$600.

  • How much do plumbers charge per hour?

Depending on your geographic location, the cost of hiring a plumber usually runs from $45-$65.

  • How much should a plumber charge to replace a toilet?

The average price to purchase and install a new toilet is $350.

  • How much does it cost to unclog a main sewer line?

The average cost to unclog a single clog in the main sewer line is $400, with multiple clogs costing about $600.

  • Will a toilet eventually unclog itself?

Very small clogs caused by too much toilet paper will eventually unclog themselves, but this is rare. Most blockages require some assistance to clear.

  • Can vinegar unclog a toilet?

Yes, vinegar mixed with baking soda does work in breaking apart small clogs.

  • How do you unclog a toilet without a plunger?

When the water in your toilet is rising and you need a quick solution, you can always try basic DIY methods while you wait for the plumber to arrive, such as pouring hot water and slippery soap, or baking soda and vinegar into the toilet. You can also unravel a metal clothes wire and then gently lower it down into the drain to help push the clog out of the way.

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Remodeling Terms Cheat Sheet

Definitions in laymen's terms, cost considerations, pictures and things you need to know.
See full cheat sheet.
glossary term picture Sewer Line 1 Sewer line: Principal pipe in a sewage system
2 Hard water: Water that is high in mineral content. It often leads to a buildup of scale
3 Chlorine: A chemical added to the water in a swimming pool to kill bacteria and microorganisms that can make people sick
4 Augers: (Also known as Plumbing snakes) A thin, pliable tool used to clear difficult clogs in plumbing systems
5 Seam: A fold, line, or groove where two pieces of material join together

Cost to unclog a toilet varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

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Labor cost by city and zip code

Compared to national average
Athens, GA
-9%
Atlanta, GA
+24%
Austin, TX
+13%
Cary, NC
-5%
Centereach, NY
+17%
Chicago, IL
+40%
Dallas, TX
+10%
Deltona, FL
-23%
Denver, CO
+1%
Detroit, MI
+16%
Farmington, NM
-19%
Fords, NJ
+36%
Greenville, MS
-39%
Hampton, VA
-18%
Highland, IN
+11%
Hobbs, NM
-15%
Honolulu, HI
+35%
Lafayette, LA
+20%
Lancaster, CA
+4%
Las Vegas, NV
+7%
Leonia, NJ
+31%
Mesa, AZ
-2%
New Haven, CT
+22%
Onalaska, WA
-10%
Redlands, CA
-1%
San Diego, CA
+11%
Seattle, WA
+9%
Smyrna, GA
+10%
Sugar Land, TX
+63%
Tampa, FL
-2%
Tucson, AZ
-19%
Washington, DC
+23%
Labor cost in your zip code
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Methodology and sources