Friday, May 03, 2024

Product review time - Instaplunge

I don't normally do reviews or commentaries on ordinary products outside of my hobbies. But this is one I wanted to share because it helped me greatly just a few minutes ago. I usually would do a YouTube video, but for reasons you will understand, I decided that this was the best option. The background: About a week ago, my teenage son informed me that he had clogged the toilet in the boys' bathroom after using it. So I went about my dadly duties of trying to plunge the toilet and unclog it. My son informed me that he had unsuccessfully tried to do that already. I know that there are two very "old school" plungers in their bathroom, one with a red cup and one with a black one, both are not powerful or effective from my experience. So, Dad grabbed the power plunger from his bathroom and off to the boys' bathroom I went.
After a long while of powerful plunging, sloshing, and rigorous work, I did not get very far with alleviating the clog. This was perhaps the worst toilet clog I have run across with one exception. My son insists that he put nothing down the toilet except excrement and toilet paper. I had my doubts since poop and paper generally would have responded to plunging long ago, in my life experience. I even let it sit overnight to get soggy and waterlogged. Alas, that did not work the next morning. Flushing only filled the toilet bowl and some plunging was needed to get the water level to go down. So at least some flow was seen, but nowhere near enough to unclog the path sufficiently. Time for the toilet snake. I had previously purchased a toilet snake between 17 and 20 years ago or so. Someone had flushed a "nonflushable" feminine hygiene product applicator down the toilet and it got lodged crossways at the very end of the toilet. It blocked progress enough to stop up paper and poop flow, and I had to remove the toilet itself only to find how it was blocked. The toilet snake would go right by the applicator and never dislodge it. I was thinking that this present instance may have been a similar instance. After all, with three boys in the house, I have had Dixie cups and toys flushed down the toilet before. My toilet snake has always helped retrieve a little green Army man or dislodge a 3 ounce bathroom cup in the past. Nope, not this time. In pondering my options, I was thinking about having to remove the toilet again and adding up the costs and items I would need and the steps I would have to go through to do this. I have replaced toilets before, so I was familiar with the drill. I decided to look on my cellphone for the Lowe's shopping app and see what they might have for new toilets should I choose to replace this one with a better one as long as I had it removed. I also looked at their plungers to see if one even better than my "old reliable", usually highly effective one. I saw an item that I had seen advertised on television a few years ago, or at least the concept, not necessarily the brand. Lowe's had the "Instaplunge" in their catalog of items. The drawback: it was a little over $78 and I had no guarantee it would work and the cheapest toilet they had was only $99. Do do I spend the $21 and just get a new toilet, or do I take a chance on the Instaplunge, which may work for me and it will work for drains for sinks, showers, and toilets now and in the future? I took the risk. I ordered the Instaplunge on April 29th. Initially the expected delivery date (yes, delivery. The Instaplunge can be ordered but was not in stock at any store location.) was for just a couple of days, so I went ahead and made the purchase. Well, apparently the item was on sale and with my Lowe's rewards card, I got the
item for $73.81 including tax with free shipping. OK, that works for me. But wait, there's more...when I got the notification of the sale, the expected arrival date was now May 15th...about two weeks out. Really? Two weeks? My wife and I have to share my toilet with two boys for the next two weeks and then maybe longer if the Instaplunge doesn't do the job? Sigh. Good news: I got a shipping notification of my Instaplunge order from Lowe's on May 1st. Tracking notifications showed that it would be here on May 3rd. Well, today is May the third. My Ring doorbell had a motion detection and sure enough, my Instaplunge arrived. Since I was in the middle of a task, I waited until I was done, got my box cutter, and opened the box. I inspected my new toy. I even read the small set of instructions (for the most part, anyway). I grabbed the toilet adapter head for the tool, the power supply, and headed to the boys' bathroom. Unfortunately, my boys' ignored their own "OUT OF ORDER" sign they made and taped to the toilet tank. One of the boys had left a deposit that had not flushed down properly within the last couple of days. So, before using the Instaplunge, I tried flushing. Nope, now I had a full toilet bowl of brown, smelly water. If you have ever used an outhouse, you know the smell. Yeah, I about gagged. I grabbed my old reliable plunger since I wanted to see if that would do the job now that this has sat there for a while. Nope. Just a little flow, a lot of smell, and immense frustration. OK, time to employ the cannon. The toilet head attached easily enough via a "ball and socket" attachment that screws on tight. It has an air pump like is used to take blood pressure to inflate the head while it sits in the toilet hole in the base of the bowl. There is a wall outlet next to the vanity, which is beside the toilet, so I plugged it in, turned on the air pump, let it pump up to the recommended 50 PSI, and pulled the trigger. "BOOM!" Compressed air hit the toilet, but it was not going down like I expected. Hhhhmmmm.... So released the air in the toilet head seal, pulled it out, and was hoping that maybe the plunger could finish the job. Yeah, nice theory, but "Negative, Ghost Rider, the pattern is full." So I tried the Instaplunge again. This time, I got the head to go deeper into the toilet hole and inflated the head, ran the pump to the requisite pressure, and pushed the trigger button. BOOM again. Deflate the head from my new toilet cannon, and the toilet level went down to its expected level. YAY! Flush and...success again! Flush...success! As mundane and disgusting as this whole process sounds, I can say that the risk I took on the Instaplunge was worth it. So now I have a tool that I can use again and again and hopefully have the same results.