Recently, the toilets in our house stopped up. Rodding didn’t get rid of the blockage and I had to call in a local drain cleaning service. The technician came , “snaked” the drain line for a length of fifty feet and appeared to have solved the problem. The toilets were once again flushing properly which was a big relief.
“What was the problem and how do we prevent it from happening again?”, we asked. Well , according to him, it might have been caused by the cleaning lady dumping disposable wipes in the toilet. Even though they are marked ” disposable”, they really are not, he told us.
It seemed like a reasonable explanation.
Three days later, the toilet stopped up again.
Unable to get the cleaning service to return our calls and fed up with waiting we rang up Roto Rooter. Their technician showed up when scheduled, took his time analyzing the problem, and told us the probable cause. He also guaranteed his work for six months. We agreed to the price ( it wasn’t cheap) and he proceeded to clear the blockage. The probe that he used had a camera attachment and we could clearly see that the line had been cleared of all obstructions. So far, ten days later, everything appears to be OK.
His explanation for the blockage is very interesting and illustrates how new problems crop up as we avail ourselves of modern conveniences. Nowadays, most everyone uses two ply toilet tissue ( Charmin, Quilted Northern etc) and that is the root cause of most blockages because the modern water saver toilets use so much less water than the old ones did. Fifty years ago, toilets used 7 gallons per flush. This was reduced to 3.5 gallons/ flush and then to 1.6 gallons/ flush about twenty five years ago. With so little water being used , there is not enough to sweep the toilet paper away. The water drains off but leaves the toilet paper behind. Compounding the problem are modern house designs, particularly Active Adult ( or Senior Citizen) dwellings which usually do not have basements and have multiple toilets on the first floor. The waste lines from these toilets are connected with horizontal pipe runs that often have several bends in them. When the toilet is flushed, the waste and the water quickly flow away but the toilet paper tends to clump up, particularly at the bends. So , to summarize… thicker toilet paper clumps up more easily and degrades more slowly and modern house designs with their horizontal runs of pipe at the first floor worsen the problem.
If you want to avoid a similar problem, this is what you are advised to do: 1) Make sure that the cleaning lady doesn’t throw disposable wipes down the toilet. 2) Use one -ply toilet tissue if possible but, whether it’s one-ply or two-ply, use as little as possible. 3) Once every month or two, use a preventive maintenance treatment such as Pipe Shield. Not only does it prevent build-ups by digesting grease and other fats, it gives the drain pipes a protective coating.
In developing countries, most people use water to cleanse themselves; toilet paper is an undreamt of luxury. And in ultra-modern societies like Japan, the toilets have a built in device that squirts water onto your nether parts so that you can clean yourself.
Sometimes, what is old becomes new again…