Preventative maintenance to keep a toilet from clogging?
December 17, 2003 8:11 AM   Subscribe

I know how to unclog a toilet. How do you keep it from clogging, specifically if you have no influence over who's going to use it (e.g. when you're having, say, a party this weekend)? Is there something to flush down it occasionally, or daily, that will minimize the chances of clogging?
posted by soyjoy to Home & Garden (12 answers total)
Every other month, I use a little Roebic K-67 on the sinks, toilet and shower drain.

It needs to be left alone for roughly half the day, and you rinse it down the drain with a potful of hot water.
posted by Smart Dalek at 8:41 AM on December 17, 2003

We used to have this exactly this problem (unpredictable clogging), and a plumber recommended that we switch TP away from the ultraplush quilty stuff, over to a cheaper brand. I forget the name of what we use now, but the problem went away. The idea is to get away from the real puffy kind of TP. Or you can keep a roll of the good stuff stashed for "special occasions" (Enough said on that, but I'm not talking about anniversaries or bar mitzvahs. Or maybe I am.)

Of course, buying a bottle of industrial strength toilet unclogger and following the recommended course of treatment a few days before the party is a pretty good insurance policy. Try Home Depot or Lowes.

On preview: I can't speak to Roebick K-67 specifically, but a lot of the drain cleaners note on the label NOT to use them in toilets. So watch out for that.
posted by luser at 8:50 AM on December 17, 2003

We have a similar problem, but with our shower drain. A bottle of the heavy duty liquid un-clogger and a bottle of the foaming pipe crap did little to open up the flow. I've even tried some "digester", to no avail. Is there any creedence to the baking soda and vinegar method?
posted by Hackworth at 9:33 AM on December 17, 2003

Response by poster: Yeah, is there? Maybe I should've asked that first. Thing is, we seem to have very old and smaller-than-normal pipes (the house is over 100 years old) and I'm wary of dumping aggressive chemicals in there if I don't need to. But I thought someone once told me baking-soda-and-vinegar didn't really work. That could've been as a hangover cure, though - I wasn't paying much attention at the time.
posted by soyjoy at 9:58 AM on December 17, 2003

Thing is, we seem to have very old and smaller-than-normal pipes (the house is over 100 years old)

And wise you are to avoid them. My house is about 80, and I can tell that drain cleaners were liberally used. Twice in the last year I have gone to Auger out a drain only to encounter a pipe so thin from chemical encounters that the auger ripped right through it.

I am going to try Mr. Dalek's K-67 for maintenance, but in the face of a problem a hand auger is the best way to go.
I have seen an interesting product that attaches to a garden hose that wedges itself in your pipe and fills the gap between the plug and the clog with water pressure. It looks brilliant, but you may wish to avoid it if you are not sure how sound your pipes are.

I give this book (along with this one) to my friends when they buy houses. They are like owners manuals, and are the most referenced books I own. Multiple plumbing soultions to your problem are listed.
posted by thirteen at 10:22 AM on December 17, 2003

and I'm wary of dumping aggressive chemicals in there if I don't need to.

That was the operative line I meant to copy.
posted by thirteen at 10:28 AM on December 17, 2003

pressure, right. I guess I could clamp a plunger over the drain and give'r a good flogging. worth a try.
posted by Hackworth at 12:08 PM on December 17, 2003

In addition to the lighter toilet paper, you may want to keep paper towels away from your toilets and put a discrete note by the flusher to not flush tampons, etc. I think some people think it's icky to toss tampons in the trash so they flush them unless specifically directed not to. The little note may also encourage other folks to go easy on the TP [some people just seem to use a ton of it for some reason] and watch what they are flushing. I know it sounds dumb but if you can get everyone into the act of keeping the pipes unclogged -- we've done this at our house during weekend parties with pretty good results -- then everyone becomes part of helping NOT clog the drains instead of inadvertently doing something normal to them that winds up causing havoc at your place.
posted by jessamyn at 2:06 PM on December 17, 2003

If you are having consistent trouble with the toilet clogging, you could consider following the rule often used on toilets in boats - don't try and flush anything you haven't eaten first.
posted by dg at 2:19 PM on December 17, 2003

Scott tissue is basic, and probably the best deal in T.P.

I should say that some of these problems do require a plumber. In our last experience,they had to auger it out from the outside.

My last suggestion is to keep small children away from the toilets, especially if they are carrying blocks.
posted by konolia at 5:29 PM on December 17, 2003

If you have a low-flush toilet, consider getting the old fashioned kind. That will reduce your clogs by about 90%. Otherwise, consider eating smaller portions.
posted by y2karl at 9:48 PM on December 17, 2003

All metal pipes; Drain 'O, the plumbers helper. Why?, basic chemistry: eats up your pipe, especially when you have a "major clog" that takes time for it to unclog it, thus making a future job for the plumber: replacing the corroded pipe. Plastic pipes ok.
posted by thomcatspike at 4:12 PM on December 22, 2003

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