Most parents probably read this heading with a little smirk and shake of their head. “Yep, been there before.” Chances are that at some point your child will flush something they shouldn’t down the toilet. Here are some tricks you can try before calling a plumber.
Well…What Was it?
The first thing you need to do is try to identify what your kid put in the toilet. Then you can make an appropriate plan of action. If it’s something that will eventually degrade, such as paper towels, you can use a plunger. However, if you were to plunge something solid like say, a toothbrush, you might only jam it further into the pipe.
Another trick for degradable items is dish soap and hot water. Pour in a fair amount of dish soap. It will help break up the clog and create a lubricant around the pipe. Be patient: it needs time to get down there. Then put in some hot water, let it sit for a while longer, and flush the clog away. Viola! A clean toilet.
Fish or Snake it Out
For those items that can’t be plunged, such as toys or jewelry, you could honestly try putting on a glove and fishing it out with your hand; that is if the child hasn’t already flushed the toilet. If that’s not an option get a toilet snake. This is a must have for every parent with small children. They cost about $25 at most hardware stores. The snake has a metal coil that you twist down your toilet bowl. It will grab the item, break it up, or push it through the pipe.
Take it Apart
If the clog is really bad you’ll have to take the toilet off its base. Be sure to get a new wax ring and bolts so you can secure it back in place afterwards. Clean the old wax off the toilet and floor before doing so. While the toilet is off, plug the sewer hole with a rag to keep sewer gases out of your house.
Once the toilet is detached give it a good shake and the item may fall right out. If not you’ll have to take more extreme measures. Get your vacuum hose and try sucking it. Flushing water through with a garden hose might also do the trick.
Call for Help
If all else fails, your time and energy might be better spent on calling a plumber.
Remember the best way to prevent toilet clogs is to educate your children. Teach them why certain things don’t go into the toilet. Show them how much toilet paper is appropriate. And if they do cause a clog, let them help you with the clean up. Then next time they might think twice before taking their favorite toy for a swim.