By Kent the Maintenance Gent
The toilet. Some might say it is the bedrock of modern civilization. When this wonder of engineering is working correctly, it defines easy living. But when something goes wrong, you can have a crisis on your hands. Even worse, you can have a crisis on your bathroom floor. Never feel shy about calling your maintenance technician when there is any sort of issue with your porcelain pedestal. It is that important. But here are a few tips to keep everything flowing.
If you only want one rule to live by to keep your toilet in tip-top shape, remember: If it didn’t come out of your body and it is not toilet paper, it doesn’t go in the bowl.
Q-tips? Don’t belong.
Dental floss? Nope.
Feminine hygiene products? Mmm… no.
Houseplants? Not unless you eat them first.
Baby wipes? No.
What about “flushable” baby wipes? Still no. Toilet paper disintegrates when it gets wet. Wipes, even when they are advertised as “flushable,” do not break down and will get hung up in the pipes.
Hot Wheels? No.
Star Wars action figures? Neither Darth Vader nor your toilet deserves that.
Cell phones? You’ll have a mess on your hands and the reception will still be terrible.
Barbie Dolls or GI Joes? The loo does not discriminate… it hates all dolls.
Wash cloths? Of course, not.
Bars of soap? Try bars of nope.
Like I said, if it didn’t come from your body and it is not toilet paper, it does not go in the bowl!
Now that we settled the “what goes down the toilet” question, there are a few things that may seem small that should prompt a call to your maintenance professional:
If you have to hold the handle down to flush, you likely have a bad flapper. Call your friendly maintenance man. This may be a simple part replacement that will save water and will keep you from excessively stressing the other parts of the flushing mechanism from holding down the handle or flushing multiple times.
If your toilet is constantly cycling (you see water movement in your toilet bowl, your toilet sometimes fills when not in use, or you hear the water cycling or filling randomly), call your friendly maintenance guy. This may not seem like such a menacing problem, but if your toilet is running for an extended period of time, that can cost you hundreds of dollars in utility bills very fast!
If you flush and large bubbles gurgle up, then your sewer is likely starting to back up. Call so we can get this some professional attention.
As far as everyday maintenance and use goes there are a few other suggestions I can offer. Never let Liquid Plumber, or any other kind of drain opening compound, anywhere near a toilet. Not only is it bad for the pipes, but when this rapidly reacts with the cold water, it can crack your toilet. This is a double whammy in a bad way. Between damaging your pipes and shattering your throne, these caustic products should give you plenty of pause.
Do not use the blue dyes or chlorine tablets in the tank. They will break down and destroy the parts in the tank. If you want to use something to keep your toilet clean, use the products that clip inside the bowl. And don’t be afraid to use the good old fashioned toilet brush and toilet bowl cleaner.
Finally, always have a good plunger around. The new lower water consumption toilets are great for conserving water, but they do not flush with the same force as the older ones. A good plunger will help keep the good times rolling.