I got an email from a student this morning asking for some referrals to a good plumber and some advice about a problem she was having with her toilet.  That email prompted me to compile this short list of things everyone (homeowner, renter or living with your parents) should know about toilets.

  1.  Your toilet is NOT a trashcan – never put anything but toilet paper in your toilet.  I don’t care if the label on the packaging says it is ‘flushable’ the marketing people who come up with this stuff do not pay your plumbing bills. NOTHING is flushable except toilet paper and waste and ladies you know what I’m talking about.  Stop it!
  2.  NEVER use drain cleaner in a clogged toilet – This can be very dangerous.  If the toilet should overflow you will have all those nasty chemicals all over your floor and potentially harm yourself, your family or your pets.
  3. Know how to shut off the water supply to your toilet – Every toilet should have a shut off valve.  Know where all your water supply shut off valves are located for your toilets, sinks and water heater.  When you have any problems with your toilet the FIRST thing you should do is shut off the water supply. I have a family member who’s toilet started to overflow when I was at his home.  The first thing he did was start throwing every towel he had in his linen closet on the floor as I was yelling, “where’s the bathroom?!”.  I got the water shut off as quickly as possible…he had no idea he could shut the water off at the toilet, this could have been a huge, and expensive, disaster
  4. Find a good plumber when it’s not an emergency and have the number handy – Water is one of the worst enemies of your home.  Even the best handy-person will need a professional at some point.  If you have no other contractor on your speed dial, it should be your plumber.
  5. Take a plumbing 101 class or buy a book and read it – have the skills and/or the information you need BEFORE you have an emergency.  You can handle most of the simple tasks and at the very least you should have the skills and information to prevent a small problem from turning into a big one.