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The 40-Year Old Toilet

August 15, 2017

We’ve lived in this old house roughly 25 years and the same toilet has worked all this time. It was the standard issue and in very good condition. Naturally, the seat needed to be replaced about a half dozen times, but the toilet itself provided uninterrupted service until a few weeks ago.
I went to flush it and happened to notice a dark green cap at the bottom just barely peeking out. My fingers were ready to push the flush lever and my brain’s signal did not reach them in time to stop. Whatever it was got flushed.
Figuring it was small enough to go through, I thought nothing more about it. A few days later the toilet started plugging up. I told my husband what I saw, but nothing he did made a difference. We figured a small cap would work its way down the drain.
Oddly, none of the bottles in the bathroom were missing a green cap, or any cap for that matter.
The blockage persisted. Most of the time the water rose to the top of the bowl just below the ridge, but several times it overflowed making a huge mess. Yesterday my husband finally called the plumber. Billy showed up and tried snaking it. His was longer than the one my husband had, but still would not go past the blockage in the S bend.
Billy returned this morning with reinforcements and a new toilet. Dave and Billy wore crisp white shirts which surprised me for the work they do. I expected gray, blue, or even beige. I didn’t ask, but I was curious about how often they changed shirts to keep them looking white and crisp throughout the day. When I worked in a white nurse’s uniform by the end of my shift there would be IV fluids, blood, vomit, or some other grimy mess splashed on it.
When they arrived this morning I asked if they would give me a minute to clean the floor around the toilet after they took out the old one. Billy cleaned around the hole for the toilet then he did the whole corner. He did it a lot faster and better than I would have done. I thanked him for being so sweet. It’s was a tight spot and hard for me to clean around it.
I was floored how much grease and dust was on the wall behind the tank! I’ve never seen that area before and never realized how bad it could get. Billy thought our toilet was 40 years old. That gives dirt a long time to build up!
The new toilet is a few inches taller than the old one. I’d been thinking about getting a higher one, but it was not that urgent. With this Myasthenia Gravis I have trouble getting up from a low surface like a low chair or when I sit on steps. The tank looks smaller so maybe we’ll save a bit on water also.
It did not take long for Billy and Dave to install the toilet and clean up their mess. Billy told me he was going to break the toilet apart later and see what was causing the blockage. As promised, he called back to let me know that a can lid was the culprit! There was no green on it like I saw. I repeated what he said to make sure I understood him. He said it was a lid from a metal can like peas or corn! Billy added that he didn’t see how it got that far and must have been at the perfect angle when it was first flushed.
Neither my husband nor I could understand how a can lid got into the toilet nor how it managed to get as far as it did.
I highly recommend Mathis Plumbing if you need a plumber.
Plumber | Mathis Plumbing & Heating Co. Inc | Greenwood, SC
Family-run business serving the Lakelands area. Includes company profile, description of services, specials, and location map.


From → Everyday Life

  1. How on earth did the lid get there?!

    • Nobody has a clue. My son walks in his sleep occasionally so it’s possible he did it without being aware of what he was doing. We have a few mice but I don’t see how they could do it.

  2. I loved Mighty Mouse as a kid, but you’re right – the mice in my house are good at chewing up labels and that’s about all. 🙂

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