When you’re stuck inside sheltering in place, your toilet’s health suddenly becomes very important to you. The last thing you want is to deal with clogs on top of everything else. Even the thought might be even to drive you to paranoia.
Instead of simply worrying, however, we recommend channeling that particular brand of sheltering anxiety into action! How? By implementing some good habits that will help make sure your toilet stays flushing with the best of them all quarantine long. Take each of the following steps during your time indoors, and you’ll go a long way toward making sure clogs are one thing you won’t have to worry about.
Be careful what you flush
If you take nothing else away from this, remember this: you should flush nothing down your toilet except waste and toilet paper. You have probably felt like you could get away with flushing something else down at one point or another. You may have even used products like wet wipes or diapers that claimed to be toilet-friendly. They’re not. Nothing is, except for toilet paper. Even the EPA has said as much.
We realize this is… very bad news while you’re sheltering in place. If you’re out of toilet paper, you should of course use an alternative. We would just urge you not to flush that alternative. Cloth, napkins, tissue or any other paper can’t break up in a drain the way toilet paper does. No matter how soft and insubstantial it seems, it could create a clog. We know flushing your alternative toilet paper is tempting, but taking that shortcut now will only come back to haunt you later–maybe literally.
Clean the bowl
One of the simplest, easiest ways to keep your toilet from clogging is also one of the most obvious–clean it regularly. You should certainly clean every part of the toilet on a regular basis, but cleaning the bowl and the jet nozzles is particularly important. Over time, minerals, sediment, rust, or bacteria can clog up your toilet’s jet nozzles. Clogged or blocked jet nozzles weaken your toilet’s flush. The weaker your toilet’s flush, the more likely clogs become.
Apply your toilet bowl cleaner to the ridge at the top of the toilet bowl. Let it run down the sides of the bowl into the water. Stick your cleaning implement directly up into the ridge and work it up and down. Clean the entire circumference of the bowl this way, reapplying cleaner as necessary. Cleaning your jet nozzles while sheltering in place is one of the most important things you can do to ensure the continued use of your toilet.
Strengthen your flush
This is easier than it sounds, and you can do it several ways. First, simply give your toilet bowl a good scrubbing using the technique we mentioned up above. If your flush still feels weak, check for clogs by adding a gallon of water to the toilet bowl and then flushing it. If the toilet doesn’t clog, you may have a partial clog–plunge or snake it! Next, try adjusting the refill float so more water enters the tank after a flush.
If you still feel like your toilet’s flush should be stronger, there’s one more thing you can adjust: the flapper. The flapper controls how long the gap between the toilet bowl and toilet tank stays open–essentially controlling the length of the flush. By adjusting the chain connecting to the handle of the toilet, you can adjust how long the flapper stays open. Just be careful not to give your flapper too much slack, or you may end up weakening your flush instead of strengthening it!
Locate problems now
The sooner you can find problems with your toilet, the sooner you can fix them before they cause clogs. While you’re cleaning your toilets or checking their flushes, keep a close eye on how they’re performing. Does the flush seem weak? Short? Does the toilet run for too long after you use it? Can you rock it back and forth? Is the sealant around its base wearing away? Can you notice any leaks?
If you notice anything, check it out as soon as possible. See if you can deal with any simple problems like weak flushes, partial clogs, or loose seats yourself. For anything else, we recommend calling the professionals as soon as possible–even while you’re sheltering in place. Even tiny leaks or slightly warped porcelain turn into major problems surprisingly quickly. A cheap repair now could save you majorly-expensive one in a couple of weeks… or even days!
Whether you encounter a problem you can’t solve yourself or you just have more questions about how to make sure your toilet keeps on keeping on while you’re sheltering, Mike Diamond wants to help. Our experts can answer your questions and solve your home repair problems any time, all while maintaining safe social distance. Stay safe!