Thursday, Sep 27, 2012

Potty trouble
By LYNDA PELLETIER -- The Edmonton Sun

Warning: potty humour ahead.

If we took a poll from our readers and asked the question, "What is the most valuable appliance/fixture in your home?" what do you think would top the chart?

Ask me and I would say, unequivocally ... the biffy wins hands-down ... or bum-down ... or, whatever. Most folks would never admit this. People get itchy when it comes to talking about the big porcelain throne. Even my boss has a fit when I run a front page shot of a bathroom. It's the most misunderstood, most utilized and ignored "appliance" we own - until something goes wrong.

Case in point. My sister Deborah and her two teenage daughters recently migrated from their apartment to my basement. Aside from the business of orchestrating showers and the extra dirty dishes, everything was going tickety-boo. Until the downstairs toilet plugged.

No, not once. Not twice. But three times. As each episode is slowly resolved via rigorous plunging/roto-rooting/praying, I'm scratching my head. "This has never happened before," I say.

"Must be your toilet," Deb replies. "It's probably not glazed inside." Somehow she's maintained this line of logic ever since my neighbour Ron threw out this comment while in the midst of - oddly enough - helping us unplug the same damn toilet. I fight the urge to support my toilet. If I've learned one thing in my 32 years, don't ever, never, ever suggest to my sister that she's wrong. The fur will fly.

Last week was the king of all plugs, complicated by the presence of real nastiness most people don't like to talk about even more than the toilet itself. After the normal procedures failed to resolve the problem, I fetched a bottle of industrial-strength clog-away - essentially a slightly diluted form of pure sulphuric acid.

Now, I ain't no dummy. I was in the same chemistry class that demonstrated why adding water to sulphuric acid gives a completely different result than reversing the process. So I took precautions. Donning a balaclava, pair of sunglasses, overalls and welder's gloves, I tiptoed into the bathroom (which had been sealed off at this point, fan running) and squirted a few tentative drops of clog-away into the bowl. When nothing threatened to explode, I poured in half a bottle.

Potty trouble
A dangerous mix
Renovation archive

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