I have a toilet that doesn't work... When you flush the handle, the water fills the bowl up but it does not drain. The tank on the back does drain and refill with water so I know that is not the problem. I have tried plunging the thing with no improvement. I have tried snaking it and from time to time, it looks like the snake does not go up the pipes, I can see it coiled around inside the drain pipe. We have tried to use drano for two days and nothing seems to help. I know that hiring a plumber is the best answer but at this moment in time, hiring a plumber is not affordable and not in the family budget. Can anyone help with any other suggestions?

  • 3
    When you trip the flush lever does the water level in the bowl rise up to the rim of the bowl almost to the point of overflowing? Does this overfilled bowl eventually, given enough time, return to the normal level?
    – Michael Karas
    Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 9:33
  • Snakes are designed for a given diameter of drain pipe. If it's coiling up, the snake you're using is designed for a smaller pipe and you need to get a larger one, particularly one designed for toilets.
    – BMitch
    Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 13:21

3 Answers 3


What you describe is a "clogged toilet". Plain and simple.

You say "snake", but have you specifically tried a "closet auger" that's made for toilets?

enter image description here

They are normally 3ft, but if you look, you can find a 6ft model that has an extendible snake. The snake part of these is much thicker than a standard drain snake and the long, bent handle starts it on the right path.

  • +1 for the proper style snake, the snake coiling up in the base of the toilet indicates they are using too small of a snake.
    – BMitch
    Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 13:20

Do you have kids in the house? You might want to ask if they know anything.

@Iggy is right. It's probably something stuck in there that's not normal waste.

If a snake can't get through whatever it is will have to come out the way it went in so you'll have to remove the toilet from the flange and turn it upside down.

You can do it with one person. Just be very careful to support the tank so it doesn't crack as you maneuver it upside down. Once upside down rock it forward and back to get it to clear the bends in the pipe. The obstruction is probably in the first sharp bend.


Assuming you're not new to the place & this has only just started happening...I've had toilets that couldn't flush urine. You can try a kid with a small hand & arm or a coat hanger to see if anything can be retrieved.

Or, a garden hose as your snake & can even have it turned on to help in dislodging the likes of a bracelet or hoop earring. Round hollow things flip to restrict at the top of the toilet's bend as the water tries to rush through.

If you or a neighbor can change out a toilet, a new toilet seal is cheap & you can pull the whole toilet to check & correct absolutely everything. Make whomever's it is sleep with it for a week.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.