The difference between a blocked toilet and a blocked drain – How to tell the two apart


It is quite certain that many of us have experienced the frustration of a blocked pipe at some point in our lives. It must have been a toilet that won’t flush properly or a drain that is very slow to drain the wastewater. To find out the reason behind a blockage, one must first understand the difference between a blocked drain and a blocked toilet. Let’s explore the difference and will suggest some quality guidelines to differentiate the two apart.

The location of the problem

The first and foremost step is to identify the location of the blockage. If it’s a blocked toilet, you can find the issue within the toilet bowl. On the other hand, if it’s a blocked drain you can find the signs further down the drainage system.

Common signs and symptoms of a blocked toilet

The signs and symptoms of a blocked toilet are different from a blocked drain. They often include:

Water rising to the toilet rim when flushing: If the water level is too high inside the bowl after flushing then this is a strong symptom of a blocked toilet.

Slow Drainage: if the water is draining very slowly from the toilet, it is a bad sign of a blocked toilet.  It might be because of something blocking the passage of water near the S-trap or P-trap.

Gurgling sound:  If you are hearing a gurgling sound every time you flush, it could be because of a blocked toilet.

Common signs and symptoms of a blocked drain

Multiple fixtures affected: if you notice water backing simultaneously across your sinks, showers, and bathtubs, it is a strong indication of a blocked drain.

Foul Odours: Clogged water and trapped debris inside the drain pipe will eliminate bad odours in and around the house. If you notice this, you can rest assured that you have a blocked drain.

Water Overflow: If you notice water overflowing from a shower drain or gully trap, it is a sign of a blocked drain.

The common cause of blocked toilets:

Disposing of non-flushable items like diapers, sanitary products, wet wipes, excess toilet papers, small toys, etc. Since these things are hard it will not disintegrate with water and will easily get stuck inside the S-trap & P-trap.

The common cause of blocked drains:

Blocked drains are often caused by the accumulation of various debris like soap scum, hair, grease, food particles, and tree roots.

How to tell if you have a blocked drain – Signs and symptoms to look out for


In conclusion, understanding the difference between a blocked toilet and a blocked drain will help you to identify the problem precisely and take effective measures. We advise you to contact a drain technician if you are uncertain about the blockages.