No one likes to talk about it, but truth be told, it happens. Toilets malfunction. They get clogged. Sure, it's inconvenient, but more than that, embarrassing if you're somewhere other than the privacy of your own home.
That's why you need this cheat sheet, so you'll know ahead of time how to deal with the situation. You're welcome.
STOP IT FROM OVERFLOWING — FAST!
The moment you realize something's wrong and the water level is rising, act fast to shut it off. There are two ways to do this:
1. Take off the lid, and then reach in (that water is clean) and close the open flapper.
2. Reach behind the toilet near the floor and turn off the water supply off by turning the handle clockwise.
Now you can stop worrying about flooding the place and move on to freeing the clog using one of the following methods.
Sounds pretty basic, but it is the best option. Of course, this assumes you have the right kind of plunger for a toilet. Every household needs this basic tool. You want a plunger with a flange on the bottom that is designed for a toilet — not a flat one that is better for drains and showers.
First put on rubber gloves if you have them. Next, put the plunger into the toilet bowl, and push down gently to remove the air in the flange without splashing yourself with dirty water. This should create a good seal. Next, use force to pump the plunger up and down without breaking that seal.
Lastly, pull the plunger up quickly. This will break the seal, dislodge the clog and free you from this mess. You may have to repeat this process a few times to fully clear the clog. Don't forget to turn on the water supply so the toilet can refill and get you on your way.
BAKING SODA AND VINEGAR
If you don't have a plunger handy, head to the pantry and grab baking soda and vinegar. This can be tricky because, when combined, baking soda and vinegar create a powerful fizzing action that can do more than just produce an impressive amount of bubbles. It can also release even the most stubborn of drain clogs. You don't want to go overboard, but you want to clear this clog, so follow these instructions exactly.
Pour 1 cup of baking soda into the toilet. Wait a couple of minutes, and then follow with 2 cups of white vinegar, pouring it in slowly. Allow the vinegar and baking soda to work for several minutes. Then flush the toilet to see if the clog has cleared. If not, you can safely repeat this process once more.
DISH SOAP AND HOT WATER
If you don't have a plunger and the baking soda and vinegar didn't do the trick, here's a third option. Pour about 1/2 cup liquid dish soap (blue Dawn is ideal, and in a pinch, shampoo will also work) into the toilet.
While that sits and works to soften the clog, heat up 1 gallon of water on the stove (16 cups). You want it hot but not boiling. Carefully pour the hot water into the toilet. Wait a couple of minutes, and then flush.
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at EverydayCheapskate.com, "Ask Mary a Question," or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of Debt-Proof Living, a personal finance member website and the author of the book Debt-Proof Living, Revell 2014. To find out more about Mary visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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