The past week has been a week of Mondays. It started with the Linguist rushing to get to school and the printer not printing. Then when I pulled the car out of the driveway and put it into drive, it decided to stay in neutral and start rolling down the hill. Fortunately it did get into gear! Oh, and the Linguist came home in full Katie Ka Boom mode (which lasted the whole week, and she never did tell us what was bothering her).
Then there was the issue with getting a prescription for BigBoy, for some reason even though it was called in by the office the day before there was no record when I came to pick it up. I had to have it called in again, and the pharmacy got it to me quickly. Plus they had to put in the new insurance information in twice before it took.
A few weeks ago I took a tumble on the stairs and hit my head, plus bruised my ribs. I gave the emergency department my spanking brand new insurance information, only to find out last week they sent the bill to the old insurance company. Of course they can’t process it! (I am okay, it is just that due to inflammation bruised ribs actually hurt worse than broken ribs, which I have had in the past)
But actually this is not about bad days, though it was prompted by an incident that occurred recently, and a few years ago when my kids were younger.
This is all about plumbing, and the tools I have gathered over the years.
Once they are potty trained kids are often quite enthusiastic about using toilet paper, and it gets worse when they try to be eco-friendly (“If it is yellow, let it mellow. If it is brown flush it down”). I have had to clear toilets quite often. At one point it was so frequent that one Mother’s Day both my husband and his mother gave me the same card: it was a drawing of a toilet with a woman holding the plunger. That is me!
Several years ago (on Friday the Thirteenth! 🙂 ) my oldest had blocked up the toilet just at the time it decided to “run”.
Does he jiggle the handle? No.
Does he turn off the water? No.
Does he inform a parent? No.
He goes and knocks on his brother’s door and points. Of course, MathMan says “go get mom!” — and then little brother proceeds to sit and watch the flood (he says he was protecting his cat by keeping her from drinking the water… the same cat that was at that moment somewhere else in the house).
So Bigboy comes down and calmly says the “toilet is leaking”. The sound of the water dropping to the floor of the room below from a ceiling light was louder — which is how I found out about the disaster.
After the water to the toilet was turned off, the toilet plunged, the water sucked into both a shop-vac and carpet cleaner. The boys then got a lesson on how to turn off the water to the toilet, along with the very important “jiggle the handle” secret that has been passed down for generations.
So I implore you, please teach these skills to your children as soon as possible!
Unfortunately BigBoy recently forgot about turning off the water, but he did come down to tell me it was flooding. So I had to bring out the carpet cleaner, plunger and then get a snake. Here is my arsenal:
1: An empty laundry detergent bottle, or any large container for water. It is the type designed to be put on the shelf, except the spout leaked. That made it useful to fill up and then pour though the top fill spout (on the right, here is the science part: the faulty spout on the left allows air in while the water flows out, the opposite of a siphon). I break up toilet paper clogs by putting in about a cup of baking soda, followed by a cup or so of vinegar. I let it fizz for about ten minutes, and then follow by pouring in hot water from the container. I also use the container to fill the toilet in a way to prevent overflow (I have turned off the water!). Many times this is all I have to do.
2: The all important toilet plunger. It has a special shape with a kind of funnel below the bell, and this helps create the pressure to push stuff down the pipes. With the water off, you can empty a toilet if things are actually moving. I have a smaller plunger that is just the Dalek bell type plunger for the sink (where I also use the baking soda and vinegar with hot water to clear out clogs).
3: A basic carpet cleaner. This is essentially a shop vac that can spray out water. It is useful to clean tile floors by first sucking up the spill, then I spray cleaner, rub it about scrub brush, then rinse and suck up with the hose. I got it when my daughter, the Linguist, decided on her own to take off her pants, ignore the little potty and pee under the desk of the only carpeted room on the main floor. This machine has been incredibly useful, and I wish I had it earlier. I plan on giving one to my children at their first baby shower.
4: Finally, there is my brand new closet auger, also known as a toilet snake. It is the long tool with the red handles, the “snake” part is one meter long. This is for really stuck toilets. For the first time in years I was unable to unclog a toilet, and we got this. I was almost about to give up after several tries, but again tried the baking soda and vinegar, poured more hot water and then tried it again. It worked!
5: A sense of humor. Shortly I after the took the picture above, I had to plunge that toilet. All I could do was laugh. I suspect that the early low flow models have more issues than others (it is seventeen years old).
Today I just discovered the leak in one bathroom happens only when the shower is switched on from the tub faucet. That means there is a leak behind the wall between the faucet and the shower head. I would say I hate plumbing, but I have gone camping where there were no showers, only a pump well and an outhouse. It could be worse.