Prevent Water Damage with Simple Toilet Maintenance
When one thinks of water damage, torrential rainstorms, flooded dams, and clogged drainage systems spring to mind. However, when water damage suddenly disrupts your daily routine, it is more likely to come from a much more innocuous source — the lowly toilet. We at SERVPRO of Ennis / Red Oak are always ready and eager to hurry to your aid in the event that you find yourself with water damage due to an overflowing toilet that has flooded any area in your home, large or small. But we know that you are better off to avoid this kind of headache altogether, and following a few tips for proper toilet maintenance can help you to do so.
Clean your toilet regularly. A mild cleaner, such as baking soda, vinegar, or a mild soap will do the job without the risks of harsher chemicals. Cleaning the toilet gives you a more hygienic, better smelling bathroom, while also providing the opportunity to notice any leaks around the toilet.
Check the toilet’s interior mechanisms at least once each six months. Make sure that all parts are in good shape and working properly, that the flapper is sealing completely, and that the fill valve stops at the appropriate water level.
Fix a small leak (or running toilet) immediately. You might not even notice this type of leak if you aren’t looking for it, as it is silent and leaves no puddle. (The leaking water flows into the bowl and down the drain.) This type of leak can run gallons of water through your tank in a day causing a substantial increase in your water bill. To test for this type of leak, place a few drops of food coloring into the toilet tank (above the bowl). Wait half an hour, then check the water in the bowl. If any color shows up in the bowl, the tank is leaking. You can get a flapper kit from the hardware store and replace it yourself, if you are a do-it-yourselfer.
Teach every family member how to properly care for the toilet. Teach them what can be flushed and what cannot, how to avoid clogs by using just the right amount of toilet tissue and no more, and how to keep the toilet clean. Teach these things beginning when a child first starts using the “potty.”
Buy the right kind of toilet paper. Commercials tout the benefits of thick, soft, fluffy paper, but a paper that is built to break down quickly is much easier on your toilet system. This is especially true if you are on a septic system where everything that is flushed must be broken down. But even if you are on a municipal sewer system, using too much of the hard to break down paper can cause clogs in the lines inside your home.
Have a flange plunger handy. For simple clogs, a bucket of hot water and a plunger is often all you need. Just turn off the water at the emergency shutoff valve behind the toilet and use the plunger to dislodge the clog. If the plunger doesn’t work, try an auger.
Do not use “drop-in” tablets in your toilet tank for cleaning. These products can cause damage to the rubber flap and other mechanisms, resulting in a leak.
Do not use chemical drain cleaners on a clogged toilet. They can damage fixtures and pipes, kill off the good bacteria in septic systems causing problems in the functioning of the system, are harmful if they come into contact with skin or are inhaled, and are just not something you want to add to your water system.
Do not place a brick in the tank to save water. Newer toilet tanks use 1.6 gallons with each flush. This is the amount that is needed to move waste out of the toilet and through the system. If you have an older tank, consider replacing it. Many new models have two flushing handles, one for liquid waste only and one for solid waste. This type toilet uses the minimal amount of water needed, while still efficiently moving waste through.
Do not flush anything but human waste and toilet paper down the toilet. Nothing else is designed to break down and safely flow through the system — NOTHING.
Using these tips can help your toilet to serve you trouble-free for many years. But in the event that you do suffer water damage from a leaky toilet or any other source, remember that SERVPRO of Ennis / Red Oak is nearby, ready to assist you with cleanup and restoration. Call us at 972-937-1494 and let us make it “Like it never even happened.”