Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Take the Plunge

I've been contemplating writing this post for months, but keep managing to delay its publication. Why? Because I like writing about pretty, pleasant things, and this is decidedly not that. But, on further evaluation, I have decided that this is a skill that every self-reliant person must have in his or her arsenal. It's happened to almost everyone (and probably will again) - you are at a restaurant or a friend's house, you put a little too much of something down the toilet, and suddenly you are trapped in a small bathroom with a rapidly filling toilet and a party waiting for you outside the door. Handled incorrectly, this nastiness can result an extremely embarrassing and, ahem, crappy situation. But handled correctly, you'll be back at the cocktail party in no time, with no one the wiser.

How To Unclog A Toilet

1. Don't Panic. Stop jiggling the handle and trying to flush- you'll only cause more water to fill the bowl and potentially overflow it. Resist the urge to climb out the window and run home. If the water level is still rising, look on the wall behind the toilet for a knob and turn it all the way to the right. This will turn off the water flowing to the toilet. Lift any rugs, mats or linens off the bathroom floor and hang them over a rod or hook, just in case things get messy.

2. Start Bailing. If the water level is full to the top of the bowl, you will need to remove some of it. This is super gross, but find a cup, dish or bowl in the bathroom to use as a bailing tool, and remove enough water bring the water level down a few inches.

3. Plunge In. Grab a plunger. You will want to use the flange kind (as opposed to the cup kind, which is for sinks). If you are at someone else's house, pray that they are well-prepared and that your karma is in order, so that there is already a plunger in the bathroom. Otherwise, use your cell phone to call your husband or closest friend at the party, and have them discreetly ask the hosts for one (I am literally blushing as I type this, I feel so sorry for you, and it isn't even happening for real). Put the suction cup end into the toilet, covering the hole forming as good a seal as you can. Vigorously plunge the handle up and down several times, as hard as you can. Really put some muscle into it. (You may want to run water in the sink while you are doing this to mask the sound). Repeat until the water starts to drain from the toilet (Congrats- that means the clog has cleared).

4. Clean and Clear. Turn the water back on, and flush the toilet until the bowl is clean and cleared out. Use toilet paper to wipe up any spilled water (ugh), return the mats to the floor, and then thoroughly wash and scrub your hands and arms up to your elbows. Take a deep breath, reapply your lipstick, and then walk out of the bathroom like nothing happened.

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