Can Plunging A Toilet Damage The Wax Ring? (Find Out Now!)

Matthew Mountain
by Matthew Mountain

The wax ring is one of the most important parts of the toilet, as this component helps keep the toilet steady while also serving as an effective barrier between the toilet and the sewer below. If your toilet’s wax ring is damaged, it’s likely you’ll experience leaks as well as the foul smell of sewer gas emanating from the drain pipe.

If you can keep your toilet’s wax ring in good shape by maintaining the toilet properly and routinely, the wax ring should last longer than a decade. But you can damage this important component by plumbing improperly, and such is the main subject of this article.

Yes, plunging improperly can damage the wax ring that is under the toilet. Specifically, if you apply too much force when plunging, you may knock the toilet off its wax ring, and when this happens a leak is likely to occur. A compromised wax ring will also allow sewer gas into the bathroom, and you’ll know this is the case if you smell a foul odor after plunging.

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Don’t Do These Three Things When There’s a Clog

If your toilet is clogged, then the clog will prevent you from using the toilet. In such an instance, it’s likely you’ll want to clear the clog by any means necessary. But you shouldn’t have this mindset when approaching a clogged toilet, as there are several ways you can damage a toilet—and quite significantly in some cases—while trying to unclog it.

You don’t want to leave the toilet clogged but you should also avoid extreme measures that will adversely affect the toilet. If you don’t think you can unclog sufficiently on your own, get in touch with a professional plumber, as they’ll handle removing the clog for you. Below are three things you should avoid when facing a clogged toilet.

One: Don’t Use Chemical Drain Cleaner (Drano) To Clear a Clog

Although their name implies they can clean any kind of drain, drain cleaners shouldn’t be used to clean a toilet drain. While some say Drano is an exception, it’s best to avoid all drain cleaners when facing a clog.

If drain cleaner is used to clear a clog, a chemical reaction will start the moment the drain cleaner meets whatever is causing the clog. Sure, the drain cleaner will most likely clear the clog, but the reaction required to do so can make the porcelain crack. And in some cases, a crack may be so significant that you need a whole new toilet—all just because of a little Drano.

If you pour drain cleaner in the bowl and this attempt to unclog the toilet is unsuccessful, you’ll now have to plunge the chemical-streaked water, and doing so can splash the mixture around. If it gets on your skin or in your eyes, you’ll feel a harsh burn and require washing.

In general, you should steer clear of using chemicals to clear a clogged toilet drain, especially when you know the clog is deep in the drain pipe.

Two: Don’t Plunge Aggressively

Plunging is the simplest and arguably most effective way to dislodge a basic clog, but a clog that’s deep in the drain will probably necessitate using a snake. Even though plunging is simple enough to be executed by pretty much anyone who has the strength to hold a plunger, it’s possible for one to plunge too aggressively and damage their toilet.

Aggressive plunging, in other words, is when one thrusts down too hard on the toilet during plunging. Aggressive plunging can actually break the wax seal that’s between the toilet and the floor, causing a leak and a foul smell.

You should focus more on position than force, for if the plunger is in the right position, then it won’t take a lot of force to create the pressure which is needed to break up the clog. If you can completely seal the hole in the toilet’s bowl with the plunger, you will only need to press down with a little bit of force to achieve the desired result.

Three: Don’t Use the Wrong Plumbing Snake

Using the wrong snake can also adversely affect your toilet’s drain pipe. The snake is a plumbing tool that’s good for when there’s a clog deep in the drain pipe, but not knowing how to use one of these properly could cause you to scratch the porcelain and/or damage the drain pipe.

You could also get the snake stuck in the pipe, and if this happens then you’ll have two things clogging your toilet. Plunging should be attempted before the snake is brought out.

And if you don’t feel comfortable using a snake, get help from a professional plumber. All professional plumbers know how to use a drain snake, and it’s likely that the plumber you hire will have a modern snake, perhaps one that runs on electricity. These tools are powerful and efficient, which is why they’re often used to break up clogs.

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How to Plunge Properly

Plunging may seem like a simple task, but there’s actually a specific plunging technique that should be followed when you go to remove a clog. This technique is briefly explained below:

  • The first thing you need to do is place the plunger in the toilet bowl, making sure that the lips of the plunger are completely submerged under the water.
  • Next, you’ll need to make sure there is a complete seal, as a complete seal will ensure air doesn’t have the opportunity to escape when you press down. If air is able to escape, there won’t be as much pressure, meaning your plunge will be weak and likely ineffective.
  • Once the plunger is in the proper position, push down gently and then yank up quickly. If, when you push down, you feel a lot of pressure, this means that the water in the pipe is being pushed against the clog. In short, the more pressure you feel, the more likely it is the clog is about to break.

Note: There are instances when too much pressure is actually a bad thing, such as when the clog is dense or caused by a single solid object. If you feel too much pressure upon plunging, it’s best to try the snake.

Matthew Mountain
Matthew Mountain

Matt loves everything DIY. He has been learning and practicing different trades since he was a kid, and he's often the first one called when a friend or family member needs a helping hand at home. Matt loves to work with wood and stone, and landscaping is by far his most favorite pastime.

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