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Clogged Toilets

A member of the Seward Park On-Line Community (SPCOMM) wrote "I find that I need to use a plunger almost daily, sometimes even that doesn't help and I have maintenance send a plumber with a snake; I can't believe that this is normal".

It is clear that the water-saving toilets installed some years ago are just not up to the job! I recently wrote to our Management Office to find out how many maintenance calls per week pertain to clogged toilets (I'll update this article when I find out). In any case, it is ironic to think how much water is being wasted with the repeated flushing of water-saving toilets!

Rachel Fleishman offered an insightful response to the SPCOMM message, and I encouraged her to let me post it here. Her "two-flush rule" will surely guide Shareholders from now to posterity!

Lots and lots of people have the same problem. The cause is our tiny, water-saving toilets and pipes. I had a lot of this kind of problem when I first moved in a couple of years ago, but have solved the problem by instituting the following procedures. (Please be warned, what follows gets down to brass tacks. Please stop reading if you are easily offended.)

  • I switched from Charmin tissue to Cottonelle. The Charmin is way too puffy for our pipes. Cottonelle is just as comfortable, but less puffy.

  • I instituted a two-flush rule. First, use toilet. Flush waste. Then, clean-up. Flush paper. It is not even unusual that I do three flushes: one for waste and then two separate flushes for paper, if you follow my drift. The key is to never try to flush too much down at once, and "too much," at least for my toilet, is very little indeed. I try to never flush more paper at once than a relatively small handful of paper -- the size of a small fist, say. Anything more than that gets broken into separate flushes.

  • When I have overnight guests, I tell them that there is a two-flush rule for solid waste. (After all, anybody that I know well enough to spend the night in my apartment is somebody that I know well enough to discuss a two-flush rule with.) I take my chances with guests that I know less well. (I don't make general announcements at dinner parties, in other words, of the two-flush rule.)

I have had no more problems since I started using this approach.

Another contributor, who prefers to remain anonymous, suggests implementing a THREE-flush rule. This is the same as the two-flush rule, except:

It helps to reach around and flush just as the first piece of poop hits the water!

Aside from these rules, clogs will happen, and plungers just don't seem to work well with these toilets. It is useful to have the kind of snake used by maintenance (pictured below), just in case! They can be found at most hardware stores.