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6 Ways to Plug a Toilet You Should be Using

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Sewer gases coming from your toilet drain aren’t just smelly; they’re dangerous. Those toxic gases can cause several health problems.

If you are removing an old toilet or live in a flood-prone area, knowing how to plug a toilet is essential! Here are some ways to get the job done.

#1: Pressure Plugs

Your easiest and most affordable option is to use a pressure plug. These are small conical plugs made out of either wood or rubber. 

The simple tool works on very basic principles. The conical shape lets you wedge the plug into the floor drain. The pressure on the sides of the drain keeps the plug in place and create an airtight seal.

The first thing you’ll need to do is turn off the toilet’s water shutoff valve. Then, you must remove the toilet completely. Check out this video for some step-by-step instructions on how to do that.

Make sure that you remove the toilet flange and get rid of any excess wax. The wax ring is notoriously difficult to clean off. But, removing residue will ensure that your pressure plug sticks.

Now, you’ll need to take note of the size of your toilet drain. The standard diameter of toilet drains is three inches. But, it’s not uncommon to see four-inch drains in older homes.

Take some quick measurements and pick up a pressure drain that works for your situation. These plugs aren’t expensive at all. Plus, you can pick them up at most home stores.

When you’re ready to plug the drain, simply pop it into place. Then, tap on the top gently with a rubber mallet. This will force the plug further down the pipe.

Only drive the plug deep enough to create a tight seal. Don’t force it down too much! Doing so will only damage your drain!

A pressure plug is a temporary solution. If you plan on keeping the toilet sealed for more than a few hours, you may need additional bracing. 

Pressure can build up in the drain. Over time, the plug can loosen and shoot off the toilet’s floor drain. Use plywood and standard lumber boards to brace the drain against your ceiling to prevent this.

#2: Inflatable Test Balls

A favorite among plumbers and contractors is the inflatable test ball. It’s also referred to as a bladder plug or a cleaning bladder. Whatever you call it, this option offers a lot of versatility.

You can use it in a couple of different ways. If you need to prevent gases from getting into your home, just pop it into the toilet floor drain. 

It’s also great for preventing backflow caused by flooding. Rather than plugging just the drain, you can use it to protect all the drains in your home. To do that, you would need to insert the plug into the sewer clean-out fitting.

Inflatable test balls are a bit more complex than standard pressure plugs. You’ll need access to a pneumatic air compressor.

The plug consists of an inflatable rubber balloon. Once you insert the ballon into the drain, turn on the compressor. The balloon inflates and creates a tight seal to stop gases and liquids from flowing through.

#3: Screw Caps

For a more permanent solution, consider using a screw cap. Contractors use caps to protect the plumbing before installing fixtures.

Screw caps work on nearly any type of pipe. Whether you have standard PVC or copper drains, it’s not difficult to find a suitable cap. Though, your toilet drain will need a threaded opening.

Not all drains will have proper threads. If they do, it’s likely beneath the toilet flange. Removing the toilet flange should provide access to the raw pipe threads.

Once the flange is out of the way, you can screw the cap on to create a permanent plug. Before you do that, apply some Teflon tape or Pipe Dope. This ensures that the plug is completely airtight.

#4: Twist Plugs

Twist plugs are a more modern solution to sealing off the toilet drain. Like standard pressure plugs and screw caps, you must remove the fixture to gain access to the drain hole.

These plugs are self-sealing. Some models may utilize standard wingnut. Others have a large screw that you must tighten with a screwdriver.

Either way, twisting the plug causes the rubber seal to expand. When fully tightened, it creates a very tight seal that stays in place.

#5: Using a Rag

Here’s a temporary solution that can provide some short-term protection from sewer fumesThis isn’t a technique that you can use for longer than a few hours. It’s meant to buy you some time as you’re swapping out an older toilet with a newer one.

Many plumbers and contractors use this method instead of a standard plug. Check out this video:

Basically, you stuff a dense rag into the drain! It’s simple enough and will prevent you from dropping anything into the hole.

Bunch up the rag to the approximate size of the drain. Then, stuff the rag into the drain while still leaving some of it sticking out. Make sure that the rag is tight enough to prevent fast airflow.

#6: Slice Valves

Also known as gate valves, slice valves install at the main sewer line. They’re often used on drains for pools and hot tubs, too.

The valve stops the flow of liquids and gases immediately. It’s a good fail-stop to have in the event of an emergency. Whenever you need to plug your toilet, just lower the valve outside.

Slice valves require professional installation. Most are PVC. Though, heavy-duty metal valves are available as well if you need something more robust.

Blue gate valve


Did you enjoy our list of solutions on how to plug a toilet? Applying these tips can help keep your home odor-free. More importantly, plugging the toilet will keep you and your family safe from harmful gases.

Let us know what you think in the comments below. If you liked the article and found our tips helpful, give it a share!

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