When we talk to tenants and owners about clogged toilets, images of plungers and buckets come to mind. While your common toilet clog can be unpleasant to varying degrees, what we are focusing on today is the uncommon toilet clog.
Toilets and the connected plumbing can become clogged with toilet paper, “flushable” wipes and cleaning products, hygiene items, and all kinds of other things that people believe are flushable. Let’s cut to the chase – if it’s not toilet paper (or what you are using toilet paper to clean), it shouldn’t be going down that toilet. However, there is a whole other tier of clog-inducing items that are worth mention – the items that you and I would probably agree are not flushable.
Non-flushable items can include almost anything fist-sized or smaller. You might think that the need to keep these items out of the toilet is obvious, but that isn’t the problem. The problem is that there are people among us (usually of the very young variety) who do not realize these are not flushable. In fact, I would venture to say that the people to whom I refer think these items are not just flushable, they are begging to be flushed. Herein lies the problem.
If you have children, know children, or might have children visit you in your home, it is worth considering the risk that they can pose to your plumbing. It might seem cute when they toss a rubber ducky in the “pond” of your toilet bowl, but when they toss a tube sock in and flush, it won’t seem so cute any more. One of our tenants found out about that firsthand when a child flushed a tube sock down a toilet which then caught in the cast-iron sewer line of the home. All of the toilets and tubs backed up with the contents of the sewer line. After a plumber repeatedly tried (unsuccessfully) to remove it, it finally had to be cut out. This means that the tenant had to pay for a section of the sewer line to be replaced.
While these kinds of situations are a risk that is highest for parents (and why items like these are a good investment) young visitors in an otherwise adult-only home can still be fascinated by flushing. Last week, one of our tenants noticed that her toilet was clogged. After thinking about what could have possibly caused the clog, she remembered that a friend’s child had been unsupervised in the bathroom. Bingo. After finally having to resort to removing the toilet and fishing around inside the plumbing for quite a while, we found the culprit – a hair clip that had been flushed. The sad fact is that instances of inappropriately-flushed items are not uncommon. We had a similar experience at another property recently in which the toilet had to finally be broken apart before we could tell that the flushed item was a makeup compact. While the toilet did have to be replaced, technically speaking the toilet didn’t have to be broken apart – we just had to do that if we wanted to know what was stuck inside.
While toilet lid locks might seem like overkill to some, they are an inexpensive solution to a potentially expensive problem. If lid locks aren’t your style, keeping all small bathroom items out of the reach of young ones and/or a serious talk with children of the right age can also go a long way. Replacing plumbing under a house or having a new toilet installed is not cheap. Any effort you put into preventing non-flushable items from going down the toilet will be worth it. The dubber duck might not get to go swimming in the flushable whirlpool, but with the money you are saving, you could get that duck a pretty nice pool of its own.
Bathroom image courtesy of freeimages.co.uk