Children do the funniest (and most inconvenient) things with their toys. They put toys up their nose, lose them in the backyard and, occasionally, flush them down the toilet. If you’re the parent of a small child, someday you may find yourself dealing with a toy that’s been flushed down your toilet. If this happens in your home, knowing what to do can help you get the toilet back to normal as soon as possible.
Here are some actions you should take to protect your plumbing from children’s toys.
Know the Signs of a Problem
Knowing the signs of a clogged toilet is important. The most obvious sign of a clogged toilet is an overflowing bowl. Fortunately, it’s not very common for a clogged toilet to completely overflow onto the bathroom floor. While the toilet may fill with more water than normal, it will likely stop before the water reaches the top of the bowl.
Other signs of a problem include:
- Strange gurgling noises in the toilet when it flushes.
- Water that drains slowly when flushed.
- Waste routinely left behind in the bowl after it is flushed.
- Water levels in the toilet bowl that are below normal after the toilet stops filling and running.
Really, almost any strange behavior that occurs when your toilet is flushed could be an indication of a clog. Unless your child’s toy has created a full blockage, your toilet may still be functional, but may not be operating as well as it normally does.
Stop an Overflowing Toilet
If your toilet is fully clogged and water is overflowing the bowl onto the floor, fast action is required. The easiest way to stop your toilet from filling with water is to shut off the water at the local valve. The water valve is likely located on the wall just behind the toilet.
Water will stop flowing into the toilet after you turn the valve to a closed position. Once the valve is turned off, you will not be able to use the toilet until the toilet is fixed by a plumber and water is turned back on.
If you are unable to turn the valve, or if you cannot find the valve, remove the toilet tank lid and lift up the float or ballcock inside the tank. Doing this signals to the toilet that it’s time to shut off the water. As soon as the ballcock or float is allowed to drop back down, the toilet will continue the flushing process. The float or ballcock will have to be rigged to stay up or the toilet will continue flushing.
Consult With a Plumber
Once you’ve solved the most immediate problem, you will need help from a professional plumber. When selecting a plumber, consider the following:
- Reputation. Look for a plumber with good references and testimonials, or get a referral from someone you know and trust.
- Longevity. Often the best plumbers will develop a wide customer base of loyal customers, allowing them to stay in business for years or decades.
- Good customer service. Hire a plumber that is easy to reach, answers your questions to your full satisfaction, and provides a range of services.
Hire the right plumber to ensure that your problem will be resolved quickly and competently.
If your toilet hasn’t overflowed, consider this alternate scenario: maybe your child flushed toys down the toilet, but the toilet seems to be working normally. The toy may have passed through the pipes and into the sewer, which could cause a clog down the road. Consult with a plumber for advice.
Prevent Future Problems
There are many things you can do to prevent your child from flushing toys down the toilet in the future.
- Put a child lock on the toilet.
- Put up a baby gate at the bathroom door.
- Coach your child on the importance of proper, safe toilet usage.
For very young children, toilets can be dangerous. Children alone in the bathroom could hurt themselves. Baby-proof your bathroom to prevent future accidents.
Remove and Reset Your Toilet
Your plumber may be able to dislodge a toy or other item (i.e. hairbrush) by removing the toilet off the base, pulling out the item, and resetting the fixture with a new wax seal and bolts.
Replace Your Toilet
Is your toilet very old? Older toilets have bigger tanks, and can hold up to seven gallons for each flush. If your toilet overflowed the bowl when it clogged, this could be because your tank holds (and flushes) more water than modern toilets. These types of toilets are inefficient and cost you more money per flush. They also waste a lot of water.
If your toilet has a clog, now may be the time to replace your toilet. Installation of a new toilet may decrease the chances that the bowl will overflow the next time your child clogs the toilet.
At Jim Dhamer Plumbing and Sewer, Inc., we provide emergency services to customers in need. If you have questions about a clogged toilet or suspect your child may have flushed their items down the toilet, contact us today at (630) 964-2222.