Losing my hair and losing my mind in Western New York

Monday, May 16, 2005

This is getting expensive!

Ever have one of those weeks? You know the ones I mean. The "I just can't catch a break!" weeks. It's been one of those for me. This week it's been plumbing issues. Having two kids who are both potty training at the same time is turning out to be an expensive venture as they (and I) discover what can and what cannot be flushed down the toilet. Just for the record, here's a short list;

CAN go down the potty:
1. normal sized human waste products
2. toilet paper

CANNOT go down the potty:
1. Baby wipes (This one took me off guard. They say flushable right on the package! So much for truth in advertising.)
2. toothbrushes
3. rubber duckies
4. plastic toy cookie cutters
5. excessively large solid human waste (You wouldn't think something that immense could come out of a four year old...)

Now, the baby wipes thing I actually discovered a while back. But my 2-1/2 year old son has not learned this yet. However he has discovered that it's fun to flush the toilet, and even more fun flushing things down the toilet along with the water! This is how we learned that various other non waste related products will willingly try to get flushed down the toilet, but usually get stuck about halfway to the sewer main, causing messy and unsanitary backups at the worst possible moments.

In the last 2 weeks we have had no less than 4 seperate visits from our plumber (3 this week alone) Initially to clear what turned out to be a toothbrush related backup in our main floor toilet. My wife had been looking for her toothbrush for 2 days at that point. Needless to say she decided she didn't want it back. He also cleared out a good sized chunk of baby wipes at the same time.

Visit number two turned out to be the rubber ducky. It got about as far as the toothbrush did, just past the valve at the bottom of the toilet, hung up between the pipe flange and the underside of the toilet.

Visit 3 and 4 were on the same day. This one was the basement toilet. It wouldn't have been too big a deal, except that we discovered when we emptied the tub after giving my son his bath that the tub drain and the downstairs toilet were running off the same 'T' joiner that connected them to the primary sewer drain in the house. With 40 gallons of used tub water pressing down and a plug in the exit port to the main sewer line, the basement toilet (you guessed it!) backed up into the basement spewing filth ridden water all over the floor. The only saving grace is that the emergency drain for the basement floor is about 2 feet from the basement bathroom door, so most of the 'water' went down that and escaped into the sewer system.

As far as what caused that one, apparently my son must have tossed more than the rubber ducky down the toilet, because the blockage holding back all that water turned out to be a 2 in wide butterfly-shaped plastic toy cookie cutter. Also, there was something else even further down the line that almost made it out, but not quite. The plumber had to use his rooter machine to get that one out. He ended up just ramming it out the end of the line and into the Main. So one of our wayward toys is taking an epic journey down the Amherst sewer system, never to be seen in our home again.

Needless to say, ensuring the bathroom door stays locked at all times is becoming rather important around my household. Especially since the total cost for all this work tallies in at just over $300 US. But on the bright side, we did end up getting some much needed toilet maintenance done (New wax seals, new water fittings, properly seated the flange under the upstairs toilet) and we KNOW the lines are clean and free flowing, at least for now...

Well, I think I'll just leave it at that for the moment. Besides, you have no idea what kind of mess I still have to clean up in the basement! Ugh. Anyone got a good set of rubber gloves? I'm gonna need 'em!


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