It looked pretty dismal last night. Three different kids, at three different times, telling me that the toilet doesn't flush. I dismissed it... "Use the one in our bathroom," I said, intending to give the toilet a quick plunge after supper to get it flowing again. And then I promptly forgot. By the time I remembered to check out our septic situation, it had been thoroughly used and was nothing short of a domestic cesspool.
But I can handle this. So I flushed, and furiously I plunged, expecting the water to quickly swirl down the drain. Nothing. All I managed to do was give our septic soup a hefty stir.
"Did anyone flush anything down the toilet that SHOULDN'T go down?" I questioned them.
Of course not.
"I heard Brooklynn playing in there before supper," my younger son informed me, helpfully. "She was flushing it lots and laughing."
"Okay, no one use this toilet for the rest of the night. I'll fix it later." I visited the commode several times that evening, for several vigorous plunging sessions, but when I retired at midnight, I hadn't made any progress on the clog. I'd only managed to make one hell of a disgusting mess of the bowl. So I left the plunger sticking out of the toilet, in as a warning to late night visitors (sit on me in the dark and you'll regret it), closed the lid, and retired.
This morning I gave it another half-hearted attempt, but the clog was as clogged as ever. I jumped in the shower after reminding the kids to use our ensuite (really it's a closet with a toilet and sink, but "ensuite makes us sound so high-brow.")
In walks the husband. "Did you fix it?"
I raised my eyebrows. Does it look like I fixed it? I hear him flush and plunge. "I already did that," I shout over the noise of my interrupted shower.
"It's broken," he declares. "We'll have to call the plumber."
I silently agree that it does look that way and my memory flashes back to a year ago when we shelled out several hundred bucks on a new toilet after the plumber happily cleared the plastic toy that broke our bathroom.
"Let's buy a snake," I said, and we added that to our growing list of Saturday morning errands.
"Brooky," I tried, as we drove to the city, "what did you flush down the toilet?"
"I don't flush down toilet," she says.
I try again. "What toy is in the toilet?"
"I don't put toy in toilet." She seems to be honest. One thing about Brooklynn, she's terrible at being sneaky.
"Did you put clothing in the toilet?" I suggested.
She laughs. "No."
"I flush toilet paper," she says, helpfully.
"How much," I probe.
"One!" And that's it. So essentially, I got nothing.
So we left, went about our day, and returned from the city with a shiny new plastic snake for $13.97 from Wal-Mart. It doesn't say "toilet," on it, so we're dubious about whether or not it'll work. Let alone whether or not we even know how to use it. But it's the only one they had, so the hubby grabbed it. Probably can't return it after using it if it's the wrong kind but, hey, we've thrown away money on lesser things before.
After my husband heads to bed and the kids are occupied, I slip on to the computer and google "How to unclog a toilet." It's informative. There's the plunger demonstration (did you know that the plunger without the bell is meant for a sink?), then the advice to fill your bowl with vinegar and baking soda and leave it overnight (this only works on "organic" clogs, and not invisible toys that no one remembers having flushed), and then there's the video demonstration about how to use a snake or a wire coat hanger to break the clog up.
A wire coat hanger? Brilliant! Why didn't I think of that? I scour the bedrooms looking for a wire coat hanger. Plastic, plastic, plastic, wood (Wood?), plastic. What the hell? Who am I, Joan Crawford? Where the hell are all the wire coat hangers?
Snake it is. Armed with my new shiny kitchen sink snake and a pair of rubber gloves (must remember not put them back under the kitchen sink) I go to battle.
I flush first (hope springs eternal for this optimist) and plunge like mad a couple dozen times. Nothing. Just a deeper pool of murky water. Dumbass! I can't see a thing.
I read the directions on the snake and start feeding it into the toilet. It goes in fairly far. A few feet. Then it stops. So I tighten the screw to hold it in place and I start cranking. And cranking. And cranking.
Nothing happens. I pull it out and plunge again, not quite sure what to expect. I repeat this exercise in futility for about twenty minutes, my hopes sinking fast. Struck by inspiration, or stupidity, I decide that unless I can see what's going on down there, I won't get anywhere. And so, with an old garbage can and a bucket, I start to bail.
Yeah, I gagged a couple of times, I'll admit it. And I had horrible visions of tripping on a toy on my way to the other toilet with my bucket of sludge, but I made it without spilling a drop.
And I went back to snaking. And flushing. And plunging. And bailing. I had a real rhythm going for quite some time. And the more I plunged and snaked, the more determined I became.
Until... suddenly... bubbles! Bubbles in my cesspool, like a primordial swamp. BUBBLES! I was ecstatic. Harder I cranked, leaning against the toilet for leverage (yeah, I'll be doing laundry later), cranking and cranking until I heard a gurgle and a glunk and what was left of my soup suddenly slipped down the drain.Three flushes later the water is running clear. And fast. I swear it's flushing better than it was before the clog.
"I'm a genius!" I shouted, to whoever would listen. "I fixed it! Come bask in the glory that is your Mom!" I'm feeling pretty psyched right now (psyched? Do people still use that word or did I just date myself?) Some Toilet Duck and Mr. Clean and my commode is sparkling again. Vinegar and baking soda, fizzing away in the garbage can, and our plunger and snake are soaking in homemade disinfectant.
And that's how it's done!