The holidays are almost here, and that means getting together to enjoy big Thanksgiving dinners, eat tons of Christmas cookies, and potentially have one too many on New Year’s Eve. But what do you do if your stomach starts to feel a little funky while you’re out at a holiday gathering? Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to talk about clogging someone else’s toilet. Keep reading to learn what to do in this awkward situation, and remember that you can always trust our experienced pros at AAA Service Plumbing, Heating & Electric.
5 Steps to Follow if the Toilet Gets Clogged in Someone Else’s House:
- Stop the Flow of Water: The most important thing to do when the toilet gets clogged, whether you’re at someone else’s house or your own, is to stop the flow of water. Unfortunately, too many homeowners do not know this is an option, and end up with nasty wastewater flowing all over their bathroom floor. When you flush the toilet and the water level starts to get uncomfortably high, look for the water valve behind the toilet and turn it to the right. It is not common, but there are a few models of toilets where the water valve cannot be shut off. If you find that this is the case, just remember, DO NOT KEEP FLUSHING—this is another common mistake, and will only exacerbate your problem. Instead, take the lid off the toilet tank and close the flapper—aka the circular drain stopper you will find attached to a metal chain (don’t worry about getting your hand dirty by doing this, the water in your toilet tank is clean.)
- Find a Plunger: Okay, so once you have stopped the flow of water to the toilet, the next step to get rid of your precarious clog is to find a plunger. Chances are you’ve used one of these before, though finding one at someone else’s home can sometimes be tricky. Rest assured, if there is not one right by the toilet, this is the one time it’s definitely okay to go through cabinets and closets in search of what you need. If you can’t dig one up one in the bathroom you’re in, try to discretely slip out and look for one in another bathroom, leaving the lights on in the first bathroom to make it seem like someone’s still inside (it’s sneaky but it works!) If, after all that, you can’t find a plunger on your own, it may be time to privately ask the host for one. Remember, you should always use a “flange” plunger (sometimes just called a toilet plunger) in this situation, rather than a cup plunger, which is designed to be used on sinks and flat drains. And be cautious and careful as you pump the plunger in the toilet, creating an intentional seal, and not moving it up and down too hard.
- Flush Away: Once you have gotten the water level to go down and used a plunger to clear the toilet of the offending clog, you will likely want to flush the toilet once to check that it’s draining properly—after all, you don’t want to leave someone else in the situation you just found yourself in. If the toilet bowl has successfully drained but there’s still a blockage present, plunge again until the water level rises back to its normal state. This can take a few tries, but if you do not plunge or flush too aggressively, it should take care of your problem.
- Dispose of the Evidence: Once you have completed this awkward task, you should probably clean up a bit, getting rid of any lingering mess—we call this part disposing of the evidence. Use the water in the toilet bowl (not the clean water in the tank, and never the sink, mind you) to wash off the plunger. Wipe away any splashing or pooling that occurred around the rim or at the base of the toilet bowl. And if things got really messy, and you can find someone on hand, it might even be helpful to drop a little toilet cleaner in the bowl, or use the toilet brush to scrape away any lingering debris.
- Don’t Panic: Listen, we’ve all been there. The best thing to do in a scenario like this is to remain calm. Occasionally, you may have to bite the bullet and tell the host why you’ve been in the bathroom so long. But if you follow the above steps and complete them calmly and completely, you should be able to avoid a messy situation this holiday season.