Thursday, September 18, 2014

roiling toilets--another public service announcement from Confessions of Ignorance

Take a look at this short video (not mine, by the way). Has this ever been in the realm of your experience?

Me neither--until it suddenly started happening in the spring. Suddenly, a word frowned upon in writing by some, was quite appropriate here, because it would just happen out of the blue. No other water was running in the old abode, and in fact sometimes it happened in the middle of the night. My landlady suggested Liquid Plumber so I tried that and it seemed to stop for awhile, so I forgot about it.

In the last couple of weeks, though, it started up again and got steadily worse. Toilet decloggers were no longer effective in stopping the rub-a-dub action, and in fact flushing wasn't happening so much as slow draining. I finally managed to describe the situation accurately to the internet and I found the answer. If you've dealt with plumbing you probably know that it has nothing to do with clogged drainage pipes, gaslines from the street, or anything else others suggested to me during the time of crisis.

It has to do with air vents.

Turns out your plumbing needs some way to vent not just water, but gases. And unfortunately since these are exposed to your external surroundings, sometimes they got blocked. Ice or snow in regions less temperate than mine, but very often the answer seems to be pine needles.

My landlady did get the handyman to come out because I certainly had no clue where the air vent was. Usually they are on the roof, but mine was running up the side of the wall under the eave. There is a pine tree above, but it seemed like the cap just got clogged with spider webs and other things. He took the cap off and put a makeshift screen over it instead, and presto, chango!-- all is well.

I'm going to include this simple and informative video on how to flush it out if your vent is on the roof. Partly, yes, as a public service, but also because, as seems to be the way with internet how-to videos, you will find an amusing and unexpected side story going on if you watch it through.


  1. Well I live in a continent where the toilet H2O goes round the other way not that I've ever actually noticed that.

  2. Oh, right--I vaguely remember something like that.How do you even keep the water in the bowl with everything upside down like that?