Robert Lamoureux | A toddler’s toilet sabotage?

Robert Lamoureux
Robert Lamoureux

Question: Hi Robert, you have so much knowledge, it’s wonderful to be able to learn from the experiences you’ve had in your business. Thank you for sharing. I am a new homeowner and eager to be able to do repairs myself. I do have some experience in many things, as I worked alongside my father all of my growing-up years. With that, I am no pro but I can get by on many tasks.  

This one however, has stumped me. We have a clogged toilet and a toddler, so I can only assume that he has dropped something down into the bowl that has become stuck in the ceramic “pipe,” if you will. My guess is that it is a small aerosol can cap, as that is the last thing we saw him playing with and do not find it any longer.  

The fact that the plumbing snake will not travel far pretty much confirms this, and now I’m not sure what to do. Any ideas?  

— Josh and Baby  

Answer: Josh, ohhhh, you may be purchasing a new toilet unless you can get this one idea to work: First, lay a large piece of cardboard down outside where you’ll be setting the toilet down, then remove the toilet and take it outside so you can have the mess there. Unless you can get your eyes on the piece in question and grab it with some pliers or something similar, I’d try to blow the item out with high-pressure air.  

Go from the underside and use a compressor or something powerful like that, and attempt to blow the item out the way it went in. If this item is lodged deep within the curves of the toilet, you really don’t have much to lose by trying to break it with a plumbing snake.  

If you are correct and it is thin plastic, you may have some luck and save yourself a new toilet purchase. Remember, when reinstalling either this or a new toilet, be sure that the wax ring is centered and seated properly for a good seal. Best of luck to you, and remember to laugh about this… he’ll be grown all too soon. 

Robert Lamoureux has more than 40 years of experience as a general contractor, with separate licenses in electrical and plumbing contracting. He owns IMS Construction Inc. in Valencia. His opinions are his own, not necessarily those of The Signal. Opinions expressed in this column are not meant to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor after that contractor has made a thorough visual inspection. Email questions to Robert at [email protected].  

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