By Yvette Arguijo
Hi, my name is Yvette and my son Paul is the owner of Anchor Plumbing Services. Here’s my attempt at sharing the plumbing wisdom I learned from my son. Since this is the first one, it is rather long.
Paul began as an apprentice plumber 19 years ago, and I’ve watched with great pride as his hard work and knack for plumbing earned him the respect of his peers and a well-deserved Master Plumber’s license. Along that sometimes-hard-fought road, being a plumber’s mother was not always easy but worth the journey. Along those lines, I thought I would share some of that journey and experiences with the Anchor Plumbing Services friends and family who might benefit and maybe enjoy a story or two about their favorite plumber.
A few years ago, Paul was at my house and noticed my thick, plush, soft, double-quilted toilet paper in all the bathrooms. His plumber’s Spidey-sense kicked in and he proclaimed that I was using the wrong toilet paper! Now, one thing we all just take for granted and never give a second thought is that there might be something wrong with the kind of toilet paper we prefer. Having your own kid call you out on it didn’t make it better, but did drive me to ask exactly what toilet paper should I be using? His short answer back was “Angel Soft,” to which he added that it dissolves quickly and helps prevent clogs in the pipes. He said that folks using the wrong toilet paper kept him very busy. My well-thought-out response was that my pipes were fine, and even if they did clog, my son was a Plumber. Bazinga!
Discussion over, but I quickly went to my Amazon Prime account and now there is a case of Angel Soft delivered to my door on a regular basis. Nothing more was said, but as time went by, doubts began to creep back into my mind. So, I logged into my Consumer Reports account (they know everything about everything) and oh my gosh, they didn’t even mention Angel Soft—things were not looking good for my ace plumber!
More research was in order. For these answers, I turned to the oracle—Google, to which an amazing 73,700,000 results came back in less than a second using just “Toilet Paper” as the search filter! One consumer even did an experiment dissolving different toilet paper brands in glasses to see which one would work best. As it turned out, some brands were equivalent to a million thread count Egyptian cotton cloth and wouldn’t have dissolved in a century or so. Folks using that kind of toilet paper had better also have a Plumber in the family! As I continued to read through many various blogs and articles, I had to admit that Paul was right (don’t tell him). I think some of those brands must have also read the same posts because as I clicked through the toilet paper information, many advertised “fast dissolving”. Before you take those claims at face value, do your own research!
I was still having some lingering doubts as to the magnitude of the problem—you flush, it goes down, end of the story, right? Wrong. Toilet paper that doesn’t dissolve quickly can get stuck in pipes. Especially cast iron pipes with nicks or sharp edges in the walls. Maybe a root from a nearby tree has found a weak point in your pipe or septic system. As slow-dissolving toilet paper gets caught in the pipe, it stays there and gathers more… uh, “stuff”. Eventually, as the pipe becomes fully clogged, that “stuff” you hoped was going DOWN begins to come back UP.
Unfortunately, water-friendly low-flow toilets don’t always have the power to flush everything completely out of the drains, where it hangs out and builds up enough to start catching all the other “stuff” coming down. Over the years, the “stuff” we flush has come to include those “flushable” wipes we love so much because they make us feel so clean. Well, they flush alright–right down to meet up with the non-dissolving toilet paper and now you have a real “stuff” fiesta going on in your pipes. These neat little conveniences were maligned by plumbers everywhere, and they recommended bagging and tossing these flushable wipes in a trash can–so what’s the point of “flushable”? Consumer Reports stated some of them took up to a week to dissolve!
So after reading all this, I had to wonder what the warning signs were for a clogged pipe that is about to turn your life upside down. Slow running drains or gurgling in a drain after you flush or wash clothes can be a sign your pipes aren’t clear and they’re telling you something bad might happen… soon. At this point I needed to use one of my lifelines—it was now time to ask a professional. So I asked Paul what would happen if the main pipe started to clog—would I get some warning? He said that warning signs happened sometimes and confirmed that gurgling noise could be an indicator, but then dropped the bomb–sometimes, they just backup with NO warning at all! It really just depends on the amount of water that hits the blockage, i.e. with small amounts you might get some gurgling, but large amounts from a water softener recycle can hit the clog, and boom, your day just got a lot harder. Did I mention that these things always seem to happen after hours or on the weekend?
I Know There’s Nothing More Personal Than Your Own Favorite Toilet Paper…
I’m not advocating that you must use Angel Soft (this is not a paid advertisement). Consumer Reports mentioned several brands that passed their dissolving tests, such as Walmart’s White Cloud Brand and Scott Brand. It’s easy to test your own toilet paper too. Just put a couple of sheets in a glass of water, stir, and wait. You’ll know. Surprisingly, the reports also said that just because it’s environmentally “Green” paper doesn’t automatically make it quick-dissolving. I know there’s nothing more personal than your own favorite toilet paper, but I just wanted to let you know that there may be some risk to what you flush down your pipes. I had never given it any thought before Paul made me aware of those risks, and now I understand more about toilet paper than I ever really wanted to know.
For me, I’m sticking with Angel Soft–because parents should let their kids win one every now and then. This was an easy one!
So, here’s the mother part of this story that’s not related to toilet paper. I told my sons as they grew up what my mom told me: “I don’t care if you grow up to be a ditch digger, just be the best ditch digger you can be”. In other words, be people of good character. I started to question that wisdom when my son left college at 18 to be a plumber, thinking that this was one that I needed to file under “Things Mom Was WRONG about”. But as the years went by, it turns out Mom was right all along. Folks, take the character over the career any day. It really was good advice then and is still good advice today. And if your kids grow up to be the best plumber or ditch digger AND a person of good character, well, it doesn’t get any better than that. So, I will always be the head cheerleader for the Anchor Plumbing Services team. Thankfully, many of you have joined the pep squad and for that, we are eternally grateful and wish you many blessings and clog-free drains. But seriously, call us if they do!
I’m so proud of the Anchor Plumbing Services team. Stay tuned, I have plenty more plumber stories to share!
Be well and have hope.
A Plumber’s Mom
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, Hebrews 6:19