To be fair…at almost no time does a toddler ever purposely seek to do damage to their home. Young children learn about the world around them through touching, feeling, trying things out and experimenting; it’s perfectly natural. The problem lies in that our plumbing is often unforgiving to such “experiments.” As a result, as much as we love our kids, sometimes toddlers and plumbing just don’t mix. Let’s look at some creative ways young children have accidentally caused damage to pipes and other plumbing fixtures.
Foreign Objects Down the Toilet
By far, the largest number of toddler-induced plumber visits happen when a young child flushes something down the toilet that didn’t belong there. It happens in part because the toilet is one of the easiest plumbing fixtures to reach, in part because it’s the largest drain in the home, and in part because for young minds, the swirling water is just so darn interesting to watch—especially when it makes things disappear! Toddlers have shoved nearly everything imaginable down their family toilets, from countless toys to entire rolls of toilet paper to food to shoes. (One well-meaning child even lost a puppy down the toilet while trying to give it a bath—the dog survived.) All it takes to create a clog is for one small foreign object to get lodged in the pipes—and when it happens several times, it may require digging into the wall and breaking open the pipes to dislodge them.
Climbing on Plumbing Fixtures
Kids have the disadvantage of being short while most plumbing fixtures are set in reach of adults. Between curiosity and need, many kids feel compelled to hoist themselves up by grabbing the nearest fixture, whether it's the edge of the sink or even the faucet. They also commonly try to reach the sink by standing on the edge of the toilet. Sometimes this extra pressure can cause these fixtures and connected pipes to break, sending water in all directions and resulting in large repair bills.
Overfilling Sinks and Tubs
Let’s face it—kids love to play in the water, especially when there’s lots of it. It’s oh-so-tempting to fill bathtubs and sinks with as much water as they can hold, whether to bathe or to splash in it. Obviously, overflowing tubs and basins can cause water damage to floors, walls, etc., which is why most basins do have an overflow. The problem is that these overflows are designed for only rare use—and when they get used constantly, the overflow pipes may leak—especially when those pipes are older.
Quick Tips for Preventing Toddlers from Causing Plumbing Damage
There’s only so much we can do to “child-proof” our plumbing, but usually a bit of vigilance can keep your pipes safe from the over-curious toddler:
- Don’t leave toddlers unattended in the bathroom. (This will solve about 90-95 percent of most issues.)
- Consider toilet lid locks if necessary.
- Invest in step stools to help kids reach the sink or toilet without climbing.
If all else fails and you experience plumbing damage, your next step is to prevent more damage by addressing the issue as soon as possible. Always call a professional to repair broken pipes or obstructed toilets to ensure repairs are done properly.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jeff Palady, RMP is the Vice President and co-owner of Budget Rooter Plumbing & Drain Cleaning. This family owned plumbing company has been serving their customers for more than 25 years, and makes customer service and quality of work their priority.
Jeff started working in the field at the age of fifteen under the tutelage of his father, who owned a Philadelphia-based plumbing and drain cleaning company. At the age of eighteen, Jeff and his mother decided to open their own shop in their home state of Delaware. For the first few years, Jeff was Budget Rooter’s only field technician, and was often out on calls until late at night while going to school to earn his Master’s License. As Budget Rooter grew, Jeff trained new technicians, researched and purchased the best equipment, and today he manages the operations of the company.
Known for being dedicated to Budget Rooter, Jeff is one of the first to arrive in the morning and is usually the last to leave. In his spare time, Jeff enjoys fishing, modifying his truck, and spending time with his wife and two sons.