Clogged toilets have been around, well, since toilets have been around, so that means since Roman times.

It is unlikely, however, that Caesar had as much trouble with his toilets as we do today. Why? Because Romans avoided the 3rd most common cause of clogged toilets: toilet paper.

That’s right, it is believed that Romans used a reusable moist sponge instead of disposable toilet paper.

If excess toilet paper is the third most common cause of a clogged toilet, what are number two and one?

These would arguably be sanitary napkins paper towels, two products often found in the bathroom that aren’t designed to be flushed through toilet pipes, and also two more products that weren’t around in Roman times. Because of this face, we can be fairly confident that Cleopatra never asked Caesar how to unclog the toilet.

For the rest of us, for whom paper towels, sanitary napkins, and excess toilet paper often find their way into our commodes, plunging of course would be the first step in unclogging a toilet. If you’ve unsuccessfully tried plunging a few times and are still wondering how to unclog the toilet, you may have to call a plumber.

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The reason for this is that paper towels, sanitary napkins, and excess toilet paper, though they may pass through upon an initial flush, may get stuck further down in the sewage pipes. This is especially common in older pipes, which may have corroded, chipped, or flaked, making it easy for these products to “catch” in the pipe during the flushing process.

When a plumber inspects a more serious clog and he or she suspects that the problem may exist further down the line, they will bring a metal snake to help clean out the line. The snake will be introduced to the pipe through an exterior “clean out” access. If it is an especially tricky clog, the plumber may even use a snake equipped with a camera to determine exactly the cause of the problem.

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