Monday, June 17, 2013

Provider, Protector and Plumber

Yesterday was an awesome Father’s Day. I had calls and wishes from all my kids, a lovely dinner orchestrated by my lovely wife (including a steak my 16-year old son grilled for me and cupcakes from my 12-year old daughter) and lovely gifts.

After dinner, before cupcakes and gifts, I was on the phone with my oldest son who lives in a different city. I could hear something going on in the background at home, but was trying to enjoy my time with my oldest on the phone. But I heard hushed concern speaking, sloshing of water, unhappy sighs. Finally I ended my call with my son and wandered back to the powder room to find my lovely wife and my 16-year old trying to plunge the toilet.


Let me say that this has been a problem toilet for some time. It was the nexus of the great Thanksgiving Plumbing Disaster of 2010, when an over-use of the kitchen garbage disposal resulted in a clog that forced the house’s entire outflow to come back through this particular toilet, resulting in TWO trips by emergency plumbers over the Thanksgiving weekend (one on Saturday, one on Sunday), and resulted in the explosion (yes, explosion) of the powder room toilet when the snake used by the first plumber ended up going the wrong way through an octopus of a plumbing connection while trying to clear the clog. (It was the second plumber who discovered that it was just a clog from over-use of the disposal; we were so happy we would NOT have to have the backyard dug up to replace outdoor sewer lines we were almost giddy. There’s some great psychological / sales lesson there somewhere.)

As a result of that excitement, we replaced the toilet in the powder room with a new one from Home Depot. And new in our community meant low-flow. And since I did it myself, it meant I bought the cheapest one.

We have a low-flow toilet in the main bath upstairs. It works great. It never clogs. Not so with the one in the powder room. It clogs if you look at it funny, which people must do often. And since it’s an elongated bowl, no plunger fits properly. So clearing clogs is a challenge.

Which brings us to yesterday.


I entered after my lovely wife and son both tried their hands at the less-than-effective plunger. I took my turn and we determined we needed to use the snake. Which meant first that we had to find the snake. Which meant I had to dig through the cabinet in the garage.

Even using the snake is no picnic. It’s a manual hand-crank type which is only moderately useful, but useful enough. Alternate the snake and the plunger enough times and the clog eventually clears. As it did yesterday. On Father’s Day. Between an awesome dinner and an awesome dessert.

So, not only did I get to be treated to an awesome meal with gifts, but I was also allowed to feel useful. Who could ask for anything more?



  1. Where does Congress get the authority to legislate how much water a toilet can use to effectively flush? We have struggled with low-flow toilets for years. They are a blight on gracious living, and don't save any water whatsoever as one has to flush several times to clear the bowl. After years of observation I believe it is businesses that are the biggest wasters of water, not homeowners. Business can deduct the cost of water as an expense, not so homeowners, hence many are much more careful about wasting. Now I'll get off my soap box and wish you well on clearing any future clogs.

  2. I wasn't trying to incite a political response, though I will note a good friend who setttled in Northern Idaho makes a run for Canada when it comes time to buy new plumbing equipment... Our low-flow toilet in the main bath is outstanding and has never clogged; perhaps I should spring for the higher cost model. I am actually kinda happy to use less water if I can. ;-)

  3. I think you should keep your cheap low-flow model, in order to ensure blog fodder every couple of years...

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