As a homeowner, chances are good that you have already experienced the displeasure of a clogged or overflowing toilet. In addition to the mess, a toilet that clogs or overflows frequently can cause lasting damage to floor coverings, sub-floors, plumbing infrastructure, and even the ceiling below, when the toilet is located in an upper-level bathroom. In addition, any moisture that remains after the clean up can result in unhealthy mildew and mold growth long after the job has been completed.
The Cost of a Poorly Maintained Toilet
According to census data published by the United States Census Bureau, the numbers of new home constructions with three or more bathrooms each now outnumber new homes built with one to one and one-half bathrooms by a ratio of nearly ten to one, based on the samples taken. With the number of home toilets rapidly growing, the cost of damage from clogged or overflowing toilets also rises exponentially.
Clogged or overflowing toilets can result in costs to homeowners. This includes:
- replacement / repair costs to flooring, subflooring, walls and trim materials
- replacement / repair costs to plumbing pipes and fixtures
- repairs to drain and sewer lines
- possible mold remediation from frequent or latent water infiltration
- higher water bills when toilets are not operating correctly and must be flushed multiple times to move waste through the system
In addition to monetary costs, families who frequently deal with clogged or slow toilets are being forced to sacrifice much of the enjoyment they should get from living in the home. The good news, however, is that homeowners can avoid this type of damage to their homes with these simple tips designed to help keep home toilets functioning properly.
1. Teach Family Members What Objects & Materials Should Never Be Flushed
Many toilet clog are caused each year due to improper use. In most of these cases, family members, both children and adults, attempt to flush materials down the toilet that should not be introduced into any type of sewage disposal system. These materials include common household items, such as:
- Paper products – including cleaning wipes, feminine hygiene products, cotton balls, cotton swabs, cigarette butts, paper towels, facial tissues, diaper liners and excessive amounts of toilet tissue
- Miscellaneous household waste products – including kitty litter, human or pet hair, grease, oils, dental floss, ashes, potting soil and dust and dirt from vacuums or dust pans
- Other objects or materials – including children’s toys, small articles of clothing like socks, medications, pet food, potting soil, sand, gravel or other miscellaneous materials or objects
2. Provide Alternate Disposal to Encourage Proper Toilet Usage
A great way to prevent inappropriate objects and materials from being placed into the toilet is to provide an alternate disposal option for family members and guests who use your bathroom. To do this, place a small trash can near each toilet in the home. Doing this is an economical, effective way of preventing future clogged toilet issues because something was flushed that should not have been flushed.
3. Keep Surfaces Clear of Small Items That Could Easily Fall Into the Toilet
Many clogged toilets also result from accidents where an object is knocked into the toilet accidentally. This often happens when nearby counters or over-the-toilet shelving is filled with small objects, such as jars, bottles, sponges and cosmetics. When these objects land in the toilet and are flushed accidentally, a clog situation is the likely result. Keeping these areas clear of small items will lessen the chances of this happening.
4. Flush Twice When Necessary
If the toilet has a large amount of waste or toilet paper in it, flushing twice may be necessary to completely empty the bowl. But a toilet that always needs to be flushed multiple times probably already suffers from some type of clog or plumbing problem.
If a toilet in your home is having to be flushed multiple times, the extra water usage is placing an additional burden on both your plumbing system and the family water bill. When this problem occurs homeowners may want to prevent excessive water bills and further damage to their plumbing by having the problem diagnosed and repaired by a professional.
5. Learn to Plunge & Do So As Needed
Another cause of clogged toilets and the damage that results is ignoring or postponing obvious signs that the toilet is malfunctioning. Even when the toilet does empty by flushing it multiple times, flushing over and over is not healthy for the plumbing system and can cause more serious plumbing problems over time.
Homeowners who experience slow flushing action may be able to relieve the problem by using a plunger to help free the clog and push it through the pipes. To do this effectively, follow these steps:
- Insert the plunger into the toilet bowl, tipping it to allow any trapped air in the bell of the plunger to escape
- Position the plunger over the drainage hole and plunge vigorously to move the water both directions in the drain to loosen and free the clog
- Be patient and repeat the process until the clog is freed and the toilet bowl empties
- If plunging does not give results and the clog remains firmly in place, calling a professional to clear the clog may be necessary
6. Know When You Need Professional Help
Plumbing problems that go unsolved are one of the most common reasons for water damage and mold issues in homes today. If you are homeowner with toilets that flush slowly, threaten to overflow or require the frequent use of a plunger, calling a professional to fix the problem quickly will help you avoid the costly, inconvenient home repair bills later.