Have you noticed that household breakdowns, appliance malfunctions, even personal health problems for some unknown reason usually occur at the end of a week or on a weekend, challenging obtaining the service or care needed, or does that just happen to me? What I recently experienced was no exception to this unwritten rule.
Perhaps I should forewarn you this topic focuses on bathroom issues in case any have sensitivities on such matters and want to skip reading further. I figure there's little we can't talk about here though I suppose there still are some unpleasant, even taboo subjects.
I encountered a serious household complication late one Thursday night, with a sudden stopped-up toilet. I felt pretty lucky that the timing for service went well, even better than I expected, with no complications when the service people called first thing Friday in response to the recorded message I had left for them the night before. The office person said the plumber was scheduled to come a couple hours later that morning. Wonder of wonders the plumber called later that he was able to come an hour or so earlier than originally scheduled, "...to arrive in about twenty minutes, if that was convenient." Convenient? I was thrilled!
While awaiting repair service and during the time that service is being provided, I've found the logistics of timing when needing to use the bathroom can sometimes be tricky with that facility out of commission. I don't recall this was ever a matter of as much concern when I was younger, or before this cursed pandemic, since going out somewhere to use other's facilities isn't as easy for me now -- and where to go? Even that matter resolved without my having to leave the house.
The repairman arrived, ran his grinding rooter cable through the sewer line, discovered he had to further assess the problem which revealed a re-seal on some connections below the floor to the present commode would be needed. Considering that cost, I determined I would be wiser to invest in a new environmentally sensitive low flow water commode, plus I could obtain that tall one I had long wanted that kept me from having to sit so low down. Maybe I should have instead had that re-seal done, and purchased an elevated seat for the commode I had. Too late now.
Am I the only ageing person who finds standing up from a sitting position not as easy to do as it once was? I was pleased with the prospect of getting this tall commode even more so when the service man checking his office learned he could pick up the unit and install for me that same day. Could this be more perfect?
So, off he went for about an hour to pick up the new tall commode, leaving me with my now temporarily functioning old commode since he had previously cleaned out the line. Even my body cooperated, and I was able to use the old commode as needed just before he returned. An hour after his return I had my new tall functioning commode, one environmentally efficient with low flow water usage.
Fast forward to late Sunday night. After multiple flushings since installation the preceding Friday, there was suddenly now trouble. I had flushed the commode but did a double-take when the bowl didn't empty. Fortunately, the strong force of minimal water that flows during flushing was limited so the bowl didn't fill up to overflow -- the bowl had just unacceptably not emptied. I was afraid to flush it a second time lest the bowl fill up further with more water, then overflow. I had to recognize that should an overflow occur I would be more than hard-pressed to try to clean the floor as I have always before been capable of doing, plus I have no one coming in to help me if needed.
A call from my plumber's office the next morning in response to the message I left the night before told me a serviceman would be available a few hours later. Once he arrived his quick use of his hand-held device made my new commode operational within minutes. He explained that California's new environmental water conservation commode requirements have resulted in less and less water being used for flushing purposes. New housing constructions sewage lines and bathroom installations were designed to be more compatible, but all of us with older homes and sewage lines could have difficulties, he noted. Wonderful! Just what I needed to hear.
My other tall commode in the master bathroom hooked up to the same sewer system has been flushing just fine. That unit met environmental conservation requirements in effect when it was installed, but during the ensuing years the commode water flushing amount has been reduced even more the repair man said. Commode manufacturers keep having to redesign their product accordingly.
The serviceman explained in the future I might try flushing in the midst of using the commode for some functions, and then again when I finished. So, this is the procedure I have adopted -- only I am concerned that flushing only once in the midst of use can sometimes not be enough. I sometimes also flush one additional time after my final flush just to be sure the lines are as cleared as they can be. I don't want to have to keep calling a plumber, though there was no charge for this last service. Note: minimal amounts of toilet paper have always been used so that's not an issue.
I might add here that some time ago an ancient person I know (that means older than me), told me that in order to avoid having to call plumbers for her commode, an expense she couldn't afford, she had placed a box by her commode and a sign telling everyone to deposit all toilet paper in the box -- "Do not flush TP in commode". At the time, I must confess to thinking to myself this must be an eccentricity and surely the odds of her frequently needing a plumber were slim. It never occurred to me at the time as it does now, to ask if she had a new environmentally conservative low flow commode, but now I wonder if maybe she does. The next time we talk, I'll ask her.
I do have to wonder with extra flushing needed, when before it was usually just once, are we ultimately going to be using the same amount of water as before, or maybe even more? I'm trying to be as environmentally sensitive by preserving resources as much as possible, but some adjustments such as this leave me wondering how well-researched they all are. Maybe we need to install old-fashioned outhouses in our backyards.
I wonder when I have guests who need to use my bathroom, if I may need to educate them about how to use my commode? I must formulate the dialogue: "Hi, welcome to my home! By the way, if you need to use my bathroom, depending on what you have to do, we need to discuss the procedure you'll need to follow."
I don't want to wait until they've been here a while, then suddenly ask, "May I use your bathroom?" They may not be able to wait for my instructions. Or, maybe I need to post a sign for them to read. I haven't yet composed the wording -- maybe something with humor? I'm not real keen on the box for TP idea for several reasons. Besides, there are landfill issues for trash, presenting more environmental issues.
Has anyone else encountered low flow water issues with commodes or other devices?
Oh, well! This is the world in which we live today. I'm sure I'll figure something out as I observe my water usage in the months ahead.
I should add, some consider California "the canary in the coal mine" predictive of what more U.S. areas and some in the rest of the world experience in water availability and conservation needs. We've been told here in SoCal we're in a drought now with lakes and reservoirs way below normal though we're not at the severe level yet. Reportedly, we have an ample amount of water for this year, but next year will be considerably less then, after that, what to expect? Water rationing may well be in our not-too-distant future. The last recorded drought here we're told lasted three decades, but now a major back up source, the Colorado River may no longer have as much water for our use as once was available.