1. If you can, bail out as much of the water as possible from the pan into a bucket so that you can use a wire or plunger to try and shift the blockage.

Toilet plungers work in the same way as the smaller sink versions but the head is shaped to fit a toilet pan.

You can also hire plungers with a pump action handle that are effective at forcing water around the pan, clearing the blockage.

2. Next, lift the drain cover nearest to the loo to see if the chamber is full of water - this will be outside close to the pipes coming out from the bathroom. If there is water, the blockage is further along the soil pipe. Use drain cleaning rods or call out a drain cleaning company if the blockage isn’t in the toilet.

3. For compacted blockages, try using a flexible metal wire with a handle, called a toilet auger (you can get these at plumbers’ merchants). Feed the wire into the pan and wind the handle when the wire meets the obstruction. Pull out the blockage and flush the toilet several times.

4. Chemical cleaners can be useful for dissolving too much toilet paper or lighter blockages. Always wear rubber gloves and flush the toilet several times to remove the chemical.

5. Try to remove hard objects rather than pushing them further down the soil pipe and causing problems in the drains.

Janice Anderssen is Women24's Decor and DIY expert. Ask her a question here or visit www.homedzine.co.za for more tips.

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