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Easiest way to fix a clogged toilet.

There is nothing that strikes fear in a lady’s heart like living alone.

Because there’s no man to blame a clogged toilet on.

Last week I mentioned I had a slight problem with my toilet. I mentioned it all casual like, as if it wasn’t a big deal.

And it wasn’t. Until it was. Which is often the case with toilets. They seem a little iffy. Kind of temperamental. And then one day, your toilet lets you know EXACTLY how angry it is at you. It burps feces at you. And before you know it you’re running, RUNNING from feces chasing you across the bathroom floor.

Screaming at the horror of it all is clearly pointless, but scream you do. In slow motion, while diving for anything that will stop the horror. Rolls of toilet paper, shower curtains, a cat. You scream and slip and bark and for some reason start maniacally spraying Poo-Pourri on everything.

They say before you die your life flashes before your eyes. I can tell you that doesn’t happen when your toilet overflows. Insead, what flashes before your eyes is every possible person that could conceivably appear at your door at the very moment you’re trying to corral poop with a makeup bag. Your neighbour, your mother, a friend, the grocery store clerk who once mentioned 3 years ago she’d like to see your house, Steve Buscemi, the Pope, Robin Leach. ANYONE COULD WALK THROUGH THAT DOOR.

Why didn’t you have rubber gloves in the bathroom? Or boots??? Or holy water?? This never would have happened if you didn’t have an irrational fear of using public restrooms. You make a promise to go into therapy and conquer that fear at which point you will ONLY use public restrooms leaving your own bathroom as a sanctuary for wayward and constipated youth.

Don’t think it could get any more fun than that? Watch this.

And that my friends is what’s known as a shit show.


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73 Comments | Filed Under: DIY Home Decor & Design Videos, Workshop |

73 Responses to Easiest way to fix a clogged toilet.

  1. Ella says:

    I’m so sorry for the shit storm, but that was a great story!

  2. andrea meyers says:

    which seemed Fun, but Wrong. lmfao. now the husband is wondering why I am giggling and watching toilets.

  3. Marti says:

    Well girlfriend… that’s an awful lot of Amazon Portal Clicking, ain’t it?

  4. Tanya H. says:

    I have three boy children. Definitely need to befriend a plumber asap.

  5. Lesley Williamson says:

    Plumbing snakes are the WORST. Over the years I have bought two, used them unsuccessfully (toilet not unclogged, porcelain scratched to shit), freaked out and thrown them in the garbage. Then plunge, plunge, plunge, plunge to no avail and call the plumber.

    Here’s a question: are all plumbing stacks on the roof? or could one of the many, many things protruding from the rear of my new house be the plumbing stack? And how would I tell? There’s the furnace vent, the furnace fresh air intake, the water heater vent, the dryer vent, the HVAC vent and two other things, one of which might have to do with the AC. I mean seriously.

    There really should be a basic home-owners course we can take.

  6. kate-v says:

    you have my sympathy– why did it take 4 hours? out here on the west coast of the us – in No. Cailifornia we have what is called ‘clean out’ drains situated outside the house, ours is near the bathroom. You take the cover off the clean out drain and snake the drain pipes. That seems to work unless there is something stuck in the actual toilet — ugh. you still have my sympathy

    • Karen says:

      This house, being 170 years old doesn’t have a fancy schmancy clean out drain. Most newer houses do. Because of that, to snake anything the entire toilet has to be removed and the snake inserted from there. It took 4 hours because apparently I had 170 years worth of “sludge” as the nice plumber referred to it. ~ karen!

  7. Patrick says:

    It’s too cold for this shit. (Pun intended)

  8. Paul says:

    I feel your pain. When I smell that smell (you know the one from deep down in the piping) I start having panic attacks. It means I forgot to call the honey wagon to have the septic tank pumped. If I don’t call right now I’ll have floaters in the tub tonight.

    And there is really nothing worse at this house than having floating shit in the tub.

    We have a septic field with a few issues and we have to remember to pump the septic tank every 6 months.

  9. Stephanie Hobson says:

    Hahaha. Sorry for the laugh Karen, but this totally reminded me of my familiy “shit story”. When I was but a wee thing my dad had a cousin who had a kind of uppity wife. They lived in the next town over from us and would occasionally deign to drop in on us, totally unannounced. One fine day our toilet did exactly what yours did, exploding out the bathroom door and down the hallway. At just that moment my dad’s cousin and the uppity wife pulled in to our driveway. My sister and I were trapped in the bedroom, my mom was totally mortified, and my dad just stuck a cigar in his mouth and proceeded to clean up the mess. Good times!

  10. Sarah says:

    We don’t have a clean out, and we ran into a similar problem on New Year’s Day. Well, the problem technically started *during* our New Year’s Eve party, but whatever. One local plumber quoted $900 to install a cleanout; another quoted $400 (a well-known, national chain). They were able to snake the drain without the cleanout this time, so we didn’t have one put in. Still debating the issue…

  11. Gale says:

    Yes, as soon as you hear bubbling in other drains it’s time to call Roto Rooter. I wish I had known that, because my pipes were clogged (they thought that roots from a large old plant in my landscaping was causing the problem with roots growing into the pipe). I took out the plant, but not before the water backed up into the shower and tub and the toilets – and they overflowed. That’s right – TWO bathrooms (back to back). The event that caused the final overflow was the washing machine trying to drain into that clogged pipe – too much water at one time with no place to go. What a nightmare! Call the plumber at the first sign of bubbling.

  12. Debbie says:

    Managing a 100 year old 5 story building. If a shit storm hits its on 5 and floods all 5 floors leaving a huge shit storm. Nothing like 5 floors of shit first thing Monday morning……..

  13. Valerie says:

    I certainly enjoyed the video. What a resourceful, and wealthy woman you are.
    I am sorry to have to surmise the following:

    Mr. snake man was probably able to clear the drain but this may be only a temporary fix. You may have roots in your drain between your house and the main drain which is located on the front road. (I am assuming there are nice lovely old trees around your property.) If this is the case you can try rotting the roots yourself with copper sulphate (flushing it down the toilet before you exit on a week’s vacation so the copper sulphate stays in the pipes) or to find out for certain if this is the case a plumber is able to slide a camera down to view inside the pipes. If the root blockage is the problem and the roots are close to the main road the city will pay for the camera investigation, digging and pipe replacement. Closer to the house the owner pays.

    • Karen says:

      HI Valerie. While there are old trees in the neighbourhood, there are no trees between my house and the main drain. Unless you count my rather large dinosaur kale. ~ karen!

  14. KiwiKat says:

    So was it purely 170 years worth of sludge and bad timing, or is it likely to happen again next winter? And what did suggestions did he make for future prevention?

  15. Cindy says:

    I really was nearly afraid to click the video because I was afraid brown stuff would be all over your snowy roof.

    • nancy says:

      ME TOO ME TOO!!! I thought this woman will show us ANYthing!!!!

      My new husband’s house is from 1940 and he has installed clean-outs all over the place. One sticks out of the renter’s living room wall in the basement, one sticks out the wall in our basement bathroom and as you approach the side door. So lovely. And that’s just the obvious ones. There’s more. He’s crazy terrified of plumbing clogs.

  16. Jody says:

    Have you been professionally snaked before? If Tim got 170 years worth of sludge out you should be good for another 170 years. I would think anyway. Did Tim know he was going to be Monday’s hero?

  17. Su says:

    shit.. hate all things plumbing related but as my dad has told me many many times, plumbers need love too and have bills to pay. Call the professionals when you get into stuff you know nothing about he has said – you actually save money sometimes not doing it yourself… …. but hey you made a new friend and he’s kinda cute :)

  18. Tigersmom says:

    We just dealt with something similar.

    We have a name for the bubbling the toilet does.

    With fresh memories of our recent unpleasant plumbing issues on our mind, we will hear a noise and look at each other with panic in our eyes and ask, “Glub-glub?” hoping what we have heard is another noise.
    Any. Other. Noise. Up to and including a drug-crazed, well-armed psychotic trying to break-in.

    My husband no longer gives me shit (pun intended) about always having at least 2 gallons of bleach on hand.

    And Gale above is right. If you want to test and see how well your exterior drainage is working, the washing machine will dump the most water out into it. I ran a nearly 3 hour sanitizing cycle on mine after the last incident to help clear out things.

    A note of caution to everyone out there: Flushable Wipes are NOT flushable. One of the three plumbers we had out over the course of our shit storm said that they can get through the porcelain of the throne, but not the pipes and they don’t disintegrate or break down. Tampons aren’t really either.

    • amyfaith says:

      Definitely not tampons; they were the primary offender at my mother’s house (from a downstairs tenant) with the final result of her having to jack hammer up the basement floor to replace the old terracotta tile drain pipes. That wasn’t cheap.

    • Fifi says:

      Thanks for the warning about flushable baby wipes Tigersmom ! I have been using them for months now, while potty training, thought they were such a great idea, they are pretty thick though, good thing I ran out recently, I wont be buying any more ! Want to save myself from a shit show like Karen ! ;-)

  19. Tigersmom says:

    Oh, and I’ll be off now to double-click on your ads. Plumbing recues are not cheap.

  20. Karen says:

    Hey, Karen!
    Such a timely story, my friend. I grappled with this very problem the first week of January.
    Luckily, I only had to spend $15. at the hardware store for a good plunger… but still, it took
    four days for me to fix things. You never appreciate your toilet so much as when you don’t have it.
    I think someone famous said that once. Mark Twain or Benjamin Franklin. Somebody.
    I actually talk to my toilet every morning now to make sure it’s happy. Ain’t nobody got time for pissed off porcelain. Sorry you had to flush so much cash down the drain… but it made for a great post. Cheers!

    • Karen says:

      LOL. Thanks Karen. For such an old house, she’s pretty well built so I’ve actually got off easy over the years in terms of maintenance. ~ karen!

  21. Darlene says:

    Are you going to be able to write this off on your taxes as a business expense for educational purposes???

  22. Joanne says:

    I used the facilities at work a few years ago, and just as I flushed I noticed a wet sign on the floor–out of order. The toilet started spewing everything I had just contributed at me and all through the washroom as I tried to pull up my pants and get out of the stall. Holy shit!! Luckily there was no one else around. I reported to the boss that there was a huge mess in the women’s washroom (not caused by me, of course!).

    I’m also amazed that many people don’t know to close the shut-off valve behind the toilet it if starts to overflow (if there IS one). That has saved me from many big messes over the years.

  23. Feral Turtle says:

    Yikes. 400 bucks :( That’s plain shitty!

  24. JF says:

    ohmywordohmywordohmyword. . .

    *shudders*

    I feel your bowl woes, I do

    my toilet backed up an hour — AN HOUR — before my open house. . .I still have nightmares

  25. lisa says:

    I just spent 3000 to have a sewer drain cleanout installed. I had sewage in my basement. Sucked.

  26. Reg says:

    Oh the horror, the horror. The effluent and the plumber’s bill.

  27. marilyn says:

    holy water….hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

  28. Theresa says:

    So, am I the only one that thinks Tim the plumber is kinda cute? I hope you kept his number :)

  29. Melissa in North Carolina says:

    Funny and educational! It was good to see you and your nostrils.

  30. Lynne says:

    Tim is kinda cute. I don’t have any plumbing problems currently – but I think it would be nice to have his number. So to speak…

    Fortunately my worst potential plumbing problems were addressed when my ex and I were renovating what is now my house. Along with entirely new electrics, I have new plumbing as well. Well, at this point 16 year old plumbing – which is a far cry from the 90+ year old stuff that was removed. When we purchased this place there was a distinct and ever present odour of some kind of lemon scented disinfectant emanating from the bathroom. No worries, because that part of the existing structure was scheduled for demolition and reconstruction. Good thing.

    While deconstructing that part we found that the previous owners’ idea of dealing with plumbing problems was to pour that aforementioned lemon scented disinfectant down the toilet – likely on a continuous basis given what we discovered. The problem they were “dealing” with was a broken sewage pipe below the toilet. Yes, you read that right. To deal with the inevitable smell of sewage water permeating the ground beneath the bathroom (there was no basement below – the structure was actually resting on 12×12 railroad ties covered in creosote – but that’s another story) they just attempted to mask it with what – IMHO – was an equally offensive odour. Our contractor (a good friend) was the poor sod who had to remove those pipes and the predictable pile of shit wedged in and around them. Amazingly, we are still friends. Sort of. LOL.

    Fortunately we were excavating for a new foundation on that side – so plumbing and contaminated soil were both dealt with – but over the years every once in a while we would disturb some earth on that side of the house while landscaping and the familiar lemon scent would waft around for a moment or two. Amazing how far that stuff travelled.

  31. kelliblue says:

    Holy shit, as it were. :)

    As a single gal who lives alone (hey Tim…how YOU doin?) I know this fear all too well. Though I’ve yet to grab my cat to sop up any messes, thankfully. Who knows, she might like it.

    Also thankfully, one of the (very few) upsides to apartment living is that they have a maintenance dude on hand for just such emergencies.

    Cost: $0.00

  32. Dot D says:

    Knowing that there is only one permanent bathroom in your house, did you have to resort to using the temporary one you installed on the second floor a while back? Or are you now really good friends with your next door neighbour? Sorry about your poopy problem, but it certainly started my day off with a good giggle.

  33. Ev says:

    Expensive post! I too was worried that all the photos would be brown. Ewwwwwww! Thanks for sparing us! Our house is 207 years old, so I have never heard of a “clean-out” drain. Having lived here for 31 years (two adults, three kids), we have had our own septic adventures. I too thank the potty for still performing!
    Sorry you had such a bad and expensive time, and also thank you for the “bubbles” warning!

  34. rose says:

    Hey, FYI..Steel City Surplus on Dundurn St in Hamilton have pink tool belts for $12.99. One of my fav stores.

  35. Bols says:

    I think that $400, for a plumbing job, is actually pretty cheap. Not that I consider $400 a negligible amount of money – but I once paid around $350 just to have a new toilet installed. Something happened with the existing one (don’t recall, this was over 10 years ago, in a different house) and the plumber said the toilet needs to be replaced. (And my boyfriend, completely useless for any kind of maintenance, was there!). The plumber recommended a certain model which they had on a truck circulating around town, so I said yet. That was the last time I had a plumber install a toilet, since then I installed 3 completely by myself (it’s not difficult).

    Now, I live in a different house. My next neighbour, a very affable dude, is a plumber.
    You think that is a winning lottery ticket, right? Not really. He doesn’t like to deal with the shitty stuff (umm, I mean messy). So he is good if you need to replace a faucet or connect a new dishwasher. For the real problems, I still have to call it somebody from the yellow pages. [Sigh]

    • Karen says:

      Yeah, I was going to do a post on replacing a toilet when I installed my new one, but I was in the middle of ripping out a floor, pouring concrete, etc. and couldn’t even FATHOM doing a post on ripping out the toilet and putting in a new one. Sometimes I just want to do something without stopping and taking pictures, lol. Also, the toilet I ended up getting installs differently from a regular toilet because it has no visible bolts and has a permanent seal as opposed to the regular wax seal. ~ karen!

  36. Jacqui says:

    OMG, I laughed so hard, with you not at you Karen! I have had a similar experience and did damage in my commitment to doing it myself. Now, if I can’t fix it with a plunger I call my plumber. Have a better day!

    Ps love your blog

  37. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    How far will Tim travel to unclog a toilet?? Just askin..

  38. Diane A. says:

    Only you would actually do this post…love it and you.

  39. Debbie says:

    Real life can be shitty! As always, thanks for the smile, giggle, laugh, guffaw!

  40. Jackie says:

    I’m a 1st time poster – now a formet lurker…. Very funny post, Karen. If anything can be turned into a funny store, you can do it. Reminds me of when I was a kid. & friends of my parents had an issue with their toilet. Water would flush but nothing else. They’re were 3 kids in their family (like in ours). My dad was helping to figure out the problem. They (the 2 dads) ended up removing the toilet & taking it into the backyard. They could find no clog & water from a hose would run right through. They re-installed the toilet & had the same problem. After removing & re-installing the toilet about 4 times with the same results, the owner got a sledge hammer & broke the toilet open. Inside was a whiffle ball (a plastic ball with holes in it). It would let the water through the holes but nothing else would pass. Seems one of the kids either flushed the ball or forced it down the hole. New toilet – no problem. Thanks for sharing your adventure.

    • Karen says:

      LOL! Well … that sounds like a far more fun solution than mine. Bashing a toilet sounds like a GREAT time. Welcome to commenting! I make a bet you won’t be able to stop now. ;) ~ karen!

  41. Jeannie B says:

    I think that a lot of plumbers, when dealing with a smelly drain blockage, use a cigar to smoke, to keep them selves from gagging. I’m just gagging thinking of sewage on a floor. Using a squirt of liquid dish detergent and a bucket of hot water is a better way of unclogging a toilet than depressing the handle. Leave the handle alone until it’s completely cleared. I put bleach down my drains every month or so, toilets included.
    I’m glad that Tim soved your problem Karen.

  42. Laura Bee says:

    Ohhhh hmmm. . . Our place is only about 90ish years old and we have been having troubles lately. (Well, on and off since we moved in almost 10 years ago.) Bubbing gurgling noises in the tub when we flush. Even the kitchen sink plays along somtimes and it gets clogged easily. I am reading all the comments too & getting a little freaked out.
    Now I want to call Ben (He is my Tim)

    And I hesitated for a second before I watched the vid, then figured we all have boundaries & that this was probably one of yours!

  43. lori jones says:

    do u have city sewer? i did till we moved out of town, now once again we has septic, and once a month i put “ridX” down the toilet. works pretty good. Was told to use it pretty soon after you buy it, or you can have bugs! yikes! so what i am going to do is buy a box at the first of the month and use it that night. i don’t want bugs!

  44. Susan says:

    This post made me really happy that a) We’ve never had a problem with the septic field (knock on wood) b) we have the coveted “clean out” in an easy-to-access location outside c) I read every reply, so I now have the “turn off the water” knowledge in my brain, along with so many horror stories to feel good about not having experienced, and d) that we’ve never had this problem (knock on wood). We’ve had just about every water issue you can have in this house, but no blockages that weren’t minor, temporary and easily fixed (knock on wood). The electrical, on the other hand…

    • TucsonPatty says:

      I, too, reach for the shut off valve immediately, but it always freaks me out because A) my face is now really, really close to the overflowing bowl, and B) my hand is now really, really close to the overflowing sludge.
      I have a septic tank and am always nervous that it might get iffy. My house is only 60 years old, but it does have a clean-out pipe, next to the brick patio underneath which is the septic tank. Someone way back added the brick over the top of the patio, but didn’t think it through. It had to be dug up once, pumped out, fixed the broken tile pipe, then replaced the bricks and sand.
      Oh, the horror!

  45. judy says:

    by the way, did you know Thomas Crapper invented the flush toilet? One of the remarkable things I remember from my college education. As the commercial goes….flushing the toilet without fear…priceless! Happy New Year!

  46. Barbie says:

    OH CRAP! I’m sorry you had to go through all that…but I was actually so happy when the plumber drove up in your video…… Sometimes ya just gotta….bummer about the $400. :(

  47. Karin says:

    We had this toilette problem years ago. All we ever flushed in the toilette ended 10 cm high in our basement rooms. Thank god i’m a midwife and used to strange smelling things.
    It happened on Christmas Eve and was worth 800 Euro!
    We moved out of the house a Year ago ! ;)

  48. Stephbo says:

    I have absolutely no idea plumbing vents even existed. Ditto clean-out drains. So basically, if I have a toilet problem, I’m screwed.

  49. Mary Werner says:

    My first laugh burst out at the HOUR 1 text. That was great! Then came the bright red truck under the green garland LOL. I would have called the first time I looked out your bathroom window so high up Mary Poppins couldn’t have reached it. Love your posts, Mary

  50. Ohhmergerd !! Laugh out loud !!

    Love the sound effects … but dang… flushing money down the toilet. Grrrrrh.

    I think you should have kicked it.

    :)

  51. Tyree Back says:

    Great video, most people would ignore the bubbling water issue and let things get worse so this hopefully raise a bit of awareness. Better to fix a small problem before it’s a big one.

  52. Andrew Lisenby says:

    Karen,
    You are a smart and resourceful person. I have gone through many, many years of plumbing problems with always old, crumbling, half-assed plumbing. We currently have one of the Gerber Dual Flush toilets in each of our 2 bathrooms. This was supposed to be the answer- a toilet than can flush crap 50-75 ft. through a sewer line. It has not turned out to be the fix to our problems. Still, the toilets get clogged because you know why? To save water, the toilet makers reduced the size of the outlet going into the sewer line (under the commode). It doesn’t take a lot of paper and fecal matter to clog that up. What I have found is to keep a gallon jug of liquid laundry detergent in the bathroom, and if it has one of those pump dispensers then more the better. Every few days, and before you flush the toilet, pump about 2 or three pumpfuls of detergent on top of the stuff in the toilet and give it some time to do its’ work. This has saved my bacon many times. I am disabled and cannot crawl under the house or climb on top to use a “50 ft. snake” like I used to.
    Once you know that your plumbing vent stacks are clear, get some heavy gauge “hardware cloth” or screen wire from your favorite hardware or home store, cut a piece large enough to fit over the stacks with a few inches around the side. Buy some stainless steel hose clamps, about a 4 inch one should work. Fit this hose clamp over the vent stack and tighten the clamp down to hold the screen wire in place. This will keep out rodents, leaves, twigs, etc. I hope this helps you Karen. You ROCK!

    Andrew

  53. Louise says:

    It’s 3:30AM in California and I’ve just had one of those days – the kind where all the hard work you put in was for nothing! (And this was for several projects, so I’m REALLY frustrated!) I’m glad I found this post, as it made me feel better. Even the great Karen has days like that!

    Also, I must compliment you on the beauty of the sequence where the plumber drives up. Yes, it showed him coming to your rescue, but it was so much more. The snowy, peaceful scene with just the touch of red from your wreath, all beautifully framed by your fence, is then artistically punctuated by his red truck pulling up to the curb. Really, I played it over and over. Now THIS would be a meaningful Christmas card to so many of us single women!

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