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Clearing blocked toilet with caustic soda



 
 
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  #1  
Old July 22nd 04, 12:01 AM
Timothy Murphy
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Default Clearing blocked toilet with caustic soda

My first-floor toilet is blocked, as far as I can see
just after the U-bend.

My local plumbers merchant gave me a jar of sodium hydroxide,
and told me this was as good as anything.
The label on the container warns me to follow the instructions carefully,
but unfortunately the instructions are missing.
Can I safely pour some down the toilet?
Do I have to ensure it will get round the U-bend?

Any advice or suggestions gratefully received.

--
Timothy Murphy
e-mail (80k only): tim /at/ birdsnest.maths.tcd.ie
tel: +353-86-2336090, +353-1-2842366
s-mail: School of Mathematics, Trinity College, Dublin 2, Ireland
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  #2  
Old July 22nd 04, 12:20 AM
Malcolm Stewart
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Default Clearing blocked toilet with caustic soda

Our site services used concentrated sulphuric acid, plus some chemical to
enhance the action. Can't remember the name for sure (but "Blockbuster"
comes to mind) but it sure was dangerous as the burns on one of the team
demonstrated.
The safety instructions will be the standard ones for caustic soda / sodium
hydroxide. Bear in mind that even weak caustic soda is very dangerous to
skin and eyes (full face visor recommended) and will make soap out of you in
short order - and you may not feel anything until it's too late.

If it doesn't get round the u-bend, how do you expect it to work?
--
M Stewart
Milton Keynes, UK


Timothy Murphy wrote in message
...
My first-floor toilet is blocked, as far as I can see
just after the U-bend.

My local plumbers merchant gave me a jar of sodium hydroxide,
and told me this was as good as anything.
The label on the container warns me to follow the instructions carefully,
but unfortunately the instructions are missing.
Can I safely pour some down the toilet?
Do I have to ensure it will get round the U-bend?



  #3  
Old July 22nd 04, 12:38 AM
Andy Hall
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Posts: n/a
Default Clearing blocked toilet with caustic soda

On Thu, 22 Jul 2004 00:01:11 +0100, Timothy Murphy
wrote:

My first-floor toilet is blocked, as far as I can see
just after the U-bend.

My local plumbers merchant gave me a jar of sodium hydroxide,
and told me this was as good as anything.
The label on the container warns me to follow the instructions carefully,
but unfortunately the instructions are missing.
Can I safely pour some down the toilet?
Do I have to ensure it will get round the U-bend?

Any advice or suggestions gratefully received.


You may be better off removing the pan, taking it outside and cleaning
it with a pressure washer or something similar.

Depending on the obstruction, caustic soda may not be all that
effective anyway.

I had the unenviable job of clearing one for somebody not long ago and
the obstruction turned out to be a number of vampire's teabags
gathered in a mass.
It would probably have taken caustic soda some while to dissolve those
sufficiently for them to move.




..andy

To email, substitute .nospam with .gl
  #4  
Old July 22nd 04, 09:23 AM
Peter Parry
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Default Clearing blocked toilet with caustic soda

On Thu, 22 Jul 2004 00:01:11 +0100, Timothy Murphy
wrote:

The label on the container warns me to follow the instructions carefully,
but unfortunately the instructions are missing.


Are you sure they are not on a multi layer label? Packs of Sodium
Hydroxide often have the instructions behind the label on the rear -
you have to peel it off to get at them.

Can I safely pour some down the toilet?


Only with care. You must add caustic soda to water (not water to
caustic soda) because when it dissolves it generates considerable
heat. If you simply pour the crystals in the pan the heat generated
locally around the pile of crystals can crack the ceramic pan. You
need to mix it a separate vessel or take great care to stir as you
are adding the crystals.

Bear in mind that Sodium Hydroxide is really quite dangerous and
that alkali burns, especially to the eyes, are far more dangerous
than acid burns.


--
Peter Parry.
http://www.wpp.ltd.uk/
  #5  
Old July 22nd 04, 09:24 AM
Lobster
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Default Clearing blocked toilet with caustic soda

Andy Hall wrote in message . ..
On Thu, 22 Jul 2004 00:01:11 +0100, Timothy Murphy
wrote:

My first-floor toilet is blocked, as far as I can see
just after the U-bend.

My local plumbers merchant gave me a jar of sodium hydroxide,
and told me this was as good as anything.
The label on the container warns me to follow the instructions carefully,
but unfortunately the instructions are missing.
Can I safely pour some down the toilet?
Do I have to ensure it will get round the U-bend?

Any advice or suggestions gratefully received.


You may be better off removing the pan, taking it outside and cleaning
it with a pressure washer or something similar.

Depending on the obstruction, caustic soda may not be all that
effective anyway.


I was about to say, surely it's got to be worth a go with it first,
rather than removing the pan without trying? But I suppose if it
doesn't work, and stays 100% blocked, then when he does have to take
the pan off, then he's left with all that caustic liquid slopping
about - not fun. Does the OP have a clue what's causing the blockage?

OP - for what it's worth, the instructions on my pack of caustic soda
for cleaning a drain (in pellet form) read "wear suitable gloves/eye
protection add 100g to 1 litre cold water in a bucket, stir constantly
til completely dissolved, carefully pour entire solution down drain.
Leave for 30 mins and then use plunger."

It also points out never to add water to caustic soda, always the
other way round, and notes that solution will heat up when dissolving.

In the light of what another poster mentioned (using sulphuric acid)
I'd also add, for heaven's sake don't mix it with any other
cleaners/unblockers (esp sulphuric acid) as the results could be
nasty!!).

If you do use it, I'd certainly leave it longer than 30 mins though.
Overnight probably. It would be worth removing as much water from the
loo bowl as you can first, to avoid unnecessary dilution of the
caustic soda.

hth
David
  #6  
Old July 22nd 04, 09:53 AM
The Natural Philosopher
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Posts: n/a
Default Clearing blocked toilet with caustic soda

Malcolm Stewart wrote:

Our site services used concentrated sulphuric acid, plus some chemical to
enhance the action. Can't remember the name for sure (but "Blockbuster"
comes to mind) but it sure was dangerous as the burns on one of the team
demonstrated.
The safety instructions will be the standard ones for caustic soda / sodium
hydroxide. Bear in mind that even weak caustic soda is very dangerous to
skin and eyes (full face visor recommended) and will make soap out of you in
short order - and you may not feel anything until it's too late.

It very bad for eyes.

I hace got loads on my skin, It burns and te skin tirns to soap. You
most certainly will feel it before its too late. Fortunately the
antidote is lots of clean fresh water.


My use o it is cabvalier, and considered dangerous by most of teh
pansies on this group.

I would in fact do the folwing.

Tip half the power or crytals int the loo, and follow up with a kettle
of boiling water, making sure that any splashes and hisses happen
inside. Best way to enbsure that is to slap a sheet of something like
polystyrene over the top of it all till the witches cauldron ceases.
Wipe up any splashes on anything with copious cold water.

Then have a cup of coffee.

Then come back and flush the loo.

If it even drains sklightly this caustc will generally clear it BUT.

If teh blocakge is clelluose material (paper or tampons) then sulphuric
acid may actually be a better bet.

Any household should have (tho not accessible by kids) a 5 litre
container of brick aciod (hydrochloric) drain cleaner (sulhuric) and a
few kg of caustic soda.

There is little ethat will survive attack by a series of chemicals like
that. Bricks glass abd sand beig the exception.







If it doesn't get round the u-bend, how do you expect it to work?
--
M Stewart
Milton Keynes, UK


Timothy Murphy wrote in message
...

My first-floor toilet is blocked, as far as I can see
just after the U-bend.

My local plumbers merchant gave me a jar of sodium hydroxide,
and told me this was as good as anything.
The label on the container warns me to follow the instructions carefully,
but unfortunately the instructions are missing.
Can I safely pour some down the toilet?
Do I have to ensure it will get round the U-bend?





  #7  
Old July 22nd 04, 11:01 AM
stuart noble
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Posts: n/a
Default Clearing blocked toilet with caustic soda


Peter Parry wrote in message
Only with care. You must add caustic soda to water (not water to
caustic soda) because when it dissolves it generates considerable
heat. If you simply pour the crystals in the pan the heat generated
locally around the pile of crystals can crack the ceramic pan. You
need to mix it a separate vessel or take great care to stir as you
are adding the crystals.

I think that's a bit alarmist. Caustic heats cold water to boiling for a few
seconds, but hardly a threat to a ceramic pan.
The main problem with pouring it straight into water is that the crystals
form a solid mass which then takes a long time to dissolve.
In any case it's highly unlikely to unblock a WC, which IME usually has
something solid stuck in the soil pipe. Last one I did was a combination of
a large cooking apple, a pair of St.Michael underpants, and a piano castor.
The mind boggles.


  #8  
Old July 22nd 04, 11:52 AM
RichardS
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Default Clearing blocked toilet with caustic soda

"stuart noble" wrote in message
...

snip
Last one I did was a combination of
a large cooking apple, a pair of St.Michael underpants, and a piano

castor.
The mind boggles.


Yikes - a previous user of that particular facility must have had serious
medical and/or psychological problems!

--
Richard Sampson

email me at
richard at olifant d-ot co do-t uk


  #9  
Old July 22nd 04, 01:42 PM
Andy Hall
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Posts: n/a
Default Clearing blocked toilet with caustic soda

On Thu, 22 Jul 2004 11:52:18 +0100, "RichardS" noaccess@invalid
wrote:

"stuart noble" wrote in message
...

snip
Last one I did was a combination of
a large cooking apple, a pair of St.Michael underpants, and a piano

castor.
The mind boggles.


Yikes - a previous user of that particular facility must have had serious
medical and/or psychological problems!



Especially buying underwear in Marks and Spencers.


..andy

To email, substitute .nospam with .gl
  #10  
Old July 22nd 04, 01:59 PM
Timothy Murphy
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Posts: n/a
Default Clearing blocked toilet with caustic soda

Malcolm Stewart wrote:

If it doesn't get round the u-bend, how do you expect it to work?


My first-floor toilet is blocked, as far as I can see
just after the U-bend.


I must say I wondered that.
The toilet does drain slowly,
taking maybe 30 minutes after flushing.
So I guess the sodium hydroxide should slowly get round the bend
if the level in the toilet is slightly above the U-bend.
I'll try it anyway (with gloves and goggles!)

--
Timothy Murphy
e-mail (80k only): tim /at/ birdsnest.maths.tcd.ie
tel: +353-86-2336090, +353-1-2842366
s-mail: School of Mathematics, Trinity College, Dublin 2, Ireland
 




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