If you have a toddler in your home, you already know that watching the toilet work can be fascinating for little ones. So fascinating, in fact, that many youngsters will resort to flushing toys and other items down the toilet just to watch them disappear. For your little one this may be a demonstration of pure magic, but for you it can be the beginning of a plumbing nightmare. Here's what you need to do if your toddler flushes toys or other items down the toilet.
Assess the Situation
Small toys and items may not cause an issue and may pass through the pipes without a problem. Begin by flushing the toilet to see if the water goes down smoothly. If all goes well, wad up a few squared of toilet paper and try flushing that. Toilet paper will loosen in the water and will catch on the edges of toys or items that are stuck in the trap and cause the water to backup. If the toilet paper flushes smoothly, chances are the item has passed through the trap located inside the toilet and found its way to the septic system. However, if the water and toilet paper do not flush smoothly, you've probably got a toy in the trap.
Try to Pull the Toy Out
Toys and items stuck in the toilet trap must be removed to prevent your toilet from overflowing or backing up when it is used and subsequently flushed. Don't wait for this to happen before you take action to correct the problem, as it is messy and can increase your frustration.
- Use Your Hands. This option is not for the weak at heart. Using your hands to reach into the toilet drain and retrieve the toy may be all that is needed. If you can see a portion of the toy in the drain, roll up your sleeves, take a deep breath and reach for it. Pull slowly and steadily to remove the toy from the toilet drain.
- Use a Toilet Auger. If you are squeamish, you will be happy to know there really is a tool for removing items in the toilet drain. A closet or toilet auger is made to clear tough clogs in the toilet when a plunger doesn't do the trick. It can also be used to retrieve a lodged toy or foreign object from the toilet drain with a little adaptation in its use.
- Use plyers to bend the end of the auger to form a larger hook.
- Insert the auger into the toilet bowl and through the drain.
- Crank the auger until you have released enough cable to reasonably reach through the toilet drain and into the pipe under your floor.
- Hold the tension on the cable and slowly pull the cable out of the toilet. The object is to snag the toy with the hook and pull it free.
- Disassemble the Toilet. If you are the do-it-yourself kind, you can also remove the toilet and pull the item out of the trap from the opposite end. Wear rubber gloves and place old towels or other absorbent material on the bathroom floor before you begin.
- Shut off the water to your toilet and disconnect the water supply. The shutoff valve is typically located behind or to the side of your toilet where the water pipes enter the bathroom.
- Remove the nuts that secure the toilet to the floor and pull the toilet free.
- Look inside the toilet drain and remove the object from the toilet.
The drain pipe that carries waste from your toilet to the sewer or septic system is usually 3 to 4 inches in diameter, depending on local building codes and the number of toilets connected to one drain. That means that nearly any object that makes it through the elbow trap of your toilet will fit down the drain. If your little one flushes a toy that slips through the toilet trap and into the drain, it is typically gone forever and will not cause further issues with your toilet.
If you need assistance removing the toy from your toilet, contact a plumbing company like Bishop Plumbing, Heating and Cooling.