Hearing a toddler flushing the toilet can be every parent's nightmare, especially if they know their child enjoys watching various items magically disappear in the swirling waters of the toilet bowl. While parents can often intervene quickly enough to save the day - and the item involved - sometimes they arrive just in time to see a favorite toy disappear down the drain as their child claps with glee.
If you have just been summoned to the bathroom to discover that your toddler has flushed their teddy bear or another equally scary toy down the drain, these tips can help you know what you should try to minimize the damage to your plumbing system.
Try to retrieve the toy through the drain opening
If the toy was relatively large, it may have gotten stuck without traveling more than a few inches into the plumbing system. Because of this, you may be able to use a long sturdy piece of wire, such as a wire coat hanger, to snag and retrieve it.
To do this, first bend a hook shape in one end of the piece of wire. Carefully thread the hooked end into the opening at the bottom of the toilet bowl, and extend it inside as far as possible. When it seems unable to extend any more, try wiggling the wire to attempt to hook it into the surface of the toy. If you succeed in hooking the toy, you may be able to carefully pull it out with the attached wire.
Try a plunger to help dislodge the toy
If you were unable to remove the toy with the hooked wire, but you feel that it is still lodged near the opening, using a toilet plunger may loosen it inside the pipe. If you cannot see the toy after plunging vigorously for a few seconds, you may want to try using the wire again to see if the toy is now partially dislodged and able to be retrieved.
Buy or borrow a plumber's snake
If the toy is still firmly lodged after plunging and attempting to snag it with the wire, you may want to try removing it once more, using a purchased or borrowed plumber's snake.
Chances are that a toy that is firmly lodged in the plumbing system under your toilet bowl will require a more advanced approach than a harried parent can provide. The best way to save your child's teddy bear and unclog your toilet is to contact a plumbing contractor in your area as quickly as possible.