It’s seven pm on a Saturday night. You’re just settling down to a movie with the family when it happens. Your daughter returns from the bathroom and confesses that she just accidentally flushed her (insert hairbrush, toy, globs of toilet paper) and now the toilet won’t flush. You turn off your movie and agonize over what to do.
Calling a plumber after hours or on the weekend will be terribly expensive, but you only have the one bathroom and won’t be able to go without a working toilet until Monday. What do you do? Does this story sound familiar to you? It’s likely that this senerio, or something similar, has happened to your family at some point. The bad news is, there’s really nothing you can do to prevent accidents like this. The good news is, you don’t always need to call a plumber! Here are some insider tips and tricks from the plumbing professionals themselves that you can try before you pick up the phone!
Use a shop vac to remove hard objects stuck in the toilet. Not sure what to do about that hairbrush? Don’t keep trying to flush and don’t reach down to try to grab it—you’ll probably just force it down further! If you have a shop vac, plug it in and try to suck the object up with it. Some shop vacs have enough power to dislodge most objects!
Use a bucket of water to flush the toilet. Do you have the water shut off for a plumbing project? You can still use the toilet, just fill a 2 gallon bucket with water and pour it into the toilet to flush. It works just as well (though it won’t refill the toilet).
Use a plunger on the kitchen sink. If you need to get underneath the sink to remove the P-trap and break up a clog, loosen up the blockage first with a plunger. Simply fill up the sink with water and plunge it out. If you have a double sink, be sure to stop off that side of the sink with another plunger to contain the air pressure.
Use duct/sealing tape. Duct tape and sealing tape are great quick fixes! Both can be used to pull together cracked pipes. Remember, though, that is a quick fix until a permanent solution is provided (please use an actual licensed plumber!).
Brighten up that shower head. Remove unsightly mineral deposits on your shower head by putting one cup of vinegar in a plastic bag and placing it over the shower head. Hold it in place with a twist tie and let it stand overnight. In the morning, remove the bag and wipe off the mineral deposits with a damp cloth.
There are a number of small fixes you can do at home that either solve the problem or temporarily patch it until a plumber can be booked. However, always remember that large plumbing problems are nothing to mess with! If you don’t know what you’re doing or don’t want to attempt making it worse, it’s always best to spend the money and call a plumbing professional—no matter what time of day or night. A service call will always be less expensive than a flooded home!