When you’re stuck indoors sheltering in place, the last thing that you need is a clogged toilet. This can make an already difficult situation even worse, and it may be a source of concern that makes you worry. But, you can relax, you can take this time to learn a little more about adopting habits that prevent toilet clogs in the first place. This knowledge will help you in the current crisis and for years to come, and it may help you to avoid some hefty future repair bills too!
Adopting Great Habits
People usually feel better when they can take control of a situation, even if it’s in a minor way. So, channel any sheltering in place anxiety into something productive. Adopting better flushing and toilet cleaning habits may seem trivial, but they can really help to improve the condition of your plumbing system. When you put the following habits into place, you should notice that toilet clogs are rare event in your home.
Take Care When Flushing
This is probably the single most important tip that you will receive on this entire list. If you only remember one thing from this article, please don’t flush anything down your toilet except human waste and toilet paper. These are the only two materials that your toilet and drain line are designed to handle. Every other item should be placed in the trash where it belongs.
Many people actually flush all kinds of items down their toilet, such as used diapers, hygiene products, toilet roll inserts, used tooth floss, and even kids’ toys (this is usually an accident). One of the worst items in recent years has been so called “flushable wipes” that you use to clean the toilet and then flush away. These are a notorious cause of toilet clogs that many people believe are safe to flush.
Now, this could be perceived as bad news if you’re sheltering in place and running short on toilet paper. Perhaps you want to use kitchen paper or some other kind of paper as an alternative? Don’t flush any items like that down your toilet; this can include: paper napkins, cloth, and even old newspapers. These types of materials are not designed to break apart like toilet paper when flushed. A piece of soft kitchen paper may see insubstantial, but in your drain line it can form a formidable clog that’s hard to remove. Make sure you have a few spare packs of toilet paper stored in your home, don’t worry about shortages; toilet paper is make locally because it’s too expensive to ship cargo that is too light.
Cleaning the Toilet Bowl
Another key preventative measure is regular toilet cleaning, but some people don’t clean their toilets in the right way. Simply circulating some store bought toilet cleaning product or bleach around the bowl will not suffice. Under the rim of the toilet, there is a series of jet nozzles that supply the water when flushing occurs. These need to be cleaned because if they become blocked, the flushing is less powerful. This makes toilet clogs more likely over time as they become blocked with material, such as bacteria, rust, sediment, and mineral deposits.
Start by applying your chose toilet bowl cleaning product to the ridge that’s located at the top of your toilet bowl. Then let is run down to cover the internal surface of the toilet bowl and then into the water. Take a toilet cleaning brush and run it up into the ridge and then down into the water and repeat this process around the entire bowl circumference. If the cleaner runs out, apply some more to make sure you get plenty of cleaning power action. This action will clean the bowl and the jet nozzles to make the chance of a toilet clog developing far less likely.
Make the Flush More Powerful
This may seem complex for someone with no plumbing background, but it’s easier than you might imagine. There are a few ways to do this, the first we’ve already covered with the toilet bowl jet nozzle scrubbing discussed above. After that cleaning, if you still feel that your flush is on the sluggish side, you can check for a clog by adding around a gallon of water to the toilet tank and giving it a flush. If the toilet is still flushing, albeit slowly, you may have a partial clog that can be plunged or snaked clear. Another simple technique is to adjust the refill float to make more water enter the toilet tank after the completion of each flush.
Another way to improve the strength of your toilet flush is to adjust the flapper mechanism. The flapper is used to control the time that the toilet tank and toilet bowl are left open. A better way to think of the flapper is that it will control the length of the entire flushing process. Obviously, longer flushes will be more powerful, and the flapper can be adjusted using eh chain that connects it to the flushing handle. When you adjust the flapper, don’t introduce too much slack because you will weaken the flush instead. If you’re not confident at working on your toilet, contact a certified plumber
and ask them about a health checkup for your toilet(s).
Time is of the Essence
A toilet clog can only get worse over time, so finding and fixing them should be a priority. When you clean your toilet using the method detailed above, keep an eye on the strength of the flush. Does the flush seem short or weak, or does the toilet run for too long after it has been flushed? Grip the toilet gently but firmly and rock it from side to side. Does it seem solid, or is it moving? Can you see any leaks at the base of the toilet, or is the sealant worn away? Answering these questions will help you to detect clogs and leaks earlier, making a cheaper repair possible.
By Giovanni Longo President Flood Brothers Plumbing
Giovanni Longo is a 3rd generation master plumber who has been practicing his craft and trade in the greater Los Angeles area for well over a decade and a half. A plumbing and hydraulics-engineering innovator, Giovanni’s particular world-class expertise focuses on dealing with challenging sewer system designs as well as resolving complex commercial and residential draining issues. As a certified Flood Mitigation expert, he is also well versed in a wide variety of water damage and remediation solution.