It’s Day 4 (a.k.a. “Hump Day”) of the Your Turn Challenge. Today’s topic is:

Teach us something that you do well.

As a tree-hugging father of four, I’ve become an expert at unclogging toilets. The tree-hugging comes into play because I was an early adopter of the low-flow toilets, in a noble effort to save the Earth’s precious water resources. (This was waaaay before fracking made those efforts futile.) If you have an early edition of low-flow toilets in your abode, you know that low-flow also means low flushing power. Make that NO flushing power.

Being a father of four young kids is a factor because despite my incessant pleas, kids enjoy using half a roll of toilet paper every time they use the bathroom. It’s like they have a sponsorship contract with Charmin. Come to think of it, when they’re teenagers they’ll still waste toilet paper in the wee hours of the night by lofting it into trees at the homes of their teachers. They clearly have some sort of pact with the manufacturers of “bathroom tissue.”

So, when you combine low flushing power with excessive TP usage, what do you get? You get notes on your bathroom door like this one from my 7-year old:

toilet  clogged note from Andrew

What a wonderful present to get from you kids! It’s the gift that keeps on giving… here’s the proper process for unclogging a toilet.

Step 1: Get a plunger. Have one that looks like this? plunger

Great. Grasp it firmly with both hands, and fling it out the window. Seriously. Those type of plungers are worthless.

Step 2: Go to a hardware store and get a plunger with a flange, like this:


Please note that you should go to a real-life, honest-to-goodness neighborhood hardware store, not one of those hulking suburban big-box home improvement stores, unless you enjoy wandering around aimlessly for hours on end while the “customer service” clerks either ignore you or actively try to elude you.

Step 3: Insert the plunger into the toilet bowl. Wait, did you insert the handle end? OK, go get some rubber gloves, remove the plunger and insert the other end into the bowl. Try to have the plunger form a seal around the drain-pipe-hole-thingey (that’s the technical term – trust me, I’m a professional).

Step 4: Vigorously plunge the handle up and down while maintaining the seal around the hole.

Step 5: If the toilet remains clogged, mutter some expletives under your breath and take a quick break to wipe the sweat from your brow and rub some Ben-Gay on your biceps.

Step 6: Repeat the process from Step 4.

Step 7: Re-repeat the process from Step 4.

Step 8: One more time (fingers crossed)… Step 4.

Step 9: If the clog clears, congratulations! Savor the 15 minutes before one of your kids yells “Daaaaaad! Toilet’s clogged again!”

Step 10: Repeat Steps 3-9.