15 April, 2013

Mommyplumber

Or how to unclog the toilet without calling the plumber.

If you have kids, or spouses or house guests, at some point you will be faced with the dreadful sound of rising water in the toilet bowl and then silence. In my house it's followed by a call to action: "Mommyplumber!" Let's face it, the one that wields the plunger is the one with the true power around the house. So here's how to... unclog a toilet.

1. Arm yourself with a proper plunger. It should have a long thick painted wood handle, be made out of thick sturdy rubber and look like a bell. The ones with a funnel piece on the bottom don't work as well. The plunger should cost no more than $10 because it is usually a one time use tool unless you're lucky enough to deal with clean water (yeah, right!). You will also need:
a large garbage bag to store the plunger while working and to dispose of it later;
loooonnnngggg rubber gloves;
several plastic bags, one inside another for "removal";
a garbage can lined with a plastic bag with no holes in it;
one wire hanger.
2. Remove all rugs and magazines off the floor.
3. Send kids (or whoever else) to a different part of the house. You do not need an audience and if things go over the rim, it's easier just to worry about your own feet and no one else's.
4. Prep your area: have the garbage can right next to the toilet to contain drips, put on your gloves, open the garbage bag for plunger storage.
5. Examine your target. Anything that is not water needs to be manually removed. I know it's gross, but think of the $500 you're saving by not calling the plumber. This is where the multiple garbage bags come in, it's like picking up dog poop: same principal of wearing the bags on your hand, grabbing the offending floater, and reversing the bag out. For hard to reach things and for wads of toilet paper that's falling apart use the wire hanger. Stretch the hanger out into a long stick with a hook: off you go fishing.
6. Wait for the water to drain somewhat on its own. If it's not, you have to plunge while it's still sloshing in the bowl. Don't be too eager: watch for sloshing over the rim.
7. Stick the plunger in and make sure you have a good seal around the small opening. Stand with your legs apart and your kneed slightly bent. Get a good grip on the handle. Plunge 30 times in rapid succession before yanking the plunger out.
8. Turn off the water to the toilet tank. If your valve is old and you think it'll explode skip this step. Plunging will be a little messier but at least your floor will thank you.
9. Flush. If you turned off the water, the tank will not refill so you're left with a dry tank.
10. Anything that swims up will need to be removed.
11. Plunge again. The sequence of plunging and flushing (make sure you turn the water on to fill your tank and then turn it off for a dry bowl) needs to continue until you hear the sudden gurgling sound followed by a waterfall sound of water draining all way down the pipe inside the floor. The further the clog down the line, the longer you have to plunge.
12. Once the toilet flushed normally, clean the bowl with toilet cleaner. I prefer Clorox, I pile it on and let it sit and eat all the germs.
13. Dispose of your waste, the hanger, the plunger (if it was operating in a non-clean water), and your gloves into the plunger garbage bag. Toss in the garbage.
14. Air out the bathroom.
15. Clean the floor.
16. Scrub yourself clean.
17. Pray it will never happen again.
18. Pat yourself on the back.
19. Have a glass of wine.
20. Go buy a new plunger because it will happen again.

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