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June 19, 2014 10:53 AM   Subscribe

Some genius inventor in South Korea has come up with a clean, easy way to unclog toilets without a plunger! (Maybe.) Introducing, the Pongtu!
Trigger Warning: Toilet with Brown Water
posted by oneswellfoop (76 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Yea saw this before. Not appetizing at all. The trigger warning doesn't even begin to touch the very gag reflex level this demo has.
posted by stormpooper at 10:55 AM on June 19 [4 favorites]


The fear and anxiety I felt hoping that goddamned seal didn't blow cannot be understated.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:58 AM on June 19 [9 favorites]


I'll stick with the plunger. That is one gasket I'd hate to see blow.
posted by hydrophonic at 10:58 AM on June 19 [1 favorite]


I kept expecting the HowToBasic guy to slam eggs on it.
posted by jbickers at 10:58 AM on June 19 [2 favorites]


Why not blue water? Everybody knows you use blue for this sort of thing.
posted by mochapickle at 11:02 AM on June 19 [15 favorites]


Bleach. Pour it in the toilet before you flush. No problem.
posted by bleep at 11:02 AM on June 19


Cannot be overstated, I should have said.

TOTAL FUCKING TERROR hoping that seal didn't break and shoot a volcano of poop at that person.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:06 AM on June 19


Okay so now what do you do with the peepee poopoo dripping plastic cover that's adhered tightly to your toilet

Also, what are you even doing, the whole point of a plunger is that it gets you at least some distance from touching your waste. I mean, it's already gross enough lugging out a bag of trash with a tiny bit of liquid waste sloshing around. Can you imagine touching the cold, damp blistery window to chunks of your own

bleh
posted by saucy_knave at 11:07 AM on June 19 [2 favorites]


There shouldn't be too much actual waste touching this plastic. The remaining air in the toilet bowl is what's in contact with the plastic sheet, and when you push down, you're compressing the air.

In practice, I'd still say, "nope!"
posted by explosion at 11:09 AM on June 19 [1 favorite]




This is a dramatic way to use the device, but so far as I can see there's no actually need to keep flushing until the water is straining at the seal (and causing you all such anxiety about a blowout). Surely you could just place that thing over the partially-filled bowl and start pushing--that would effectively do the same thing that a plunger does without anyone having to deal with either a shitty-water-covered seal or a shit-and-water covered plunger in the aftermath.

In other words, I think this is actually a really smart invention, but this video really seems like the wrong way to go about selling it.
posted by yoink at 11:12 AM on June 19 [1 favorite]


Finding out mid plunge that your three year old had stabbed the pongtu with scissors would not be a priceless moment.
posted by Dip Flash at 11:14 AM on June 19 [3 favorites]


Does it work on humans?
posted by Foci for Analysis at 11:16 AM on June 19


Is this something I'd need solid BMs to understand?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:17 AM on June 19 [3 favorites]


Yoink, the less air that remains in the bowl, the more effective it will be. Water is effectively incompressable, so you're building up air pressure. Less air to compress, the higher the compression will be.
posted by explosion at 11:18 AM on June 19 [5 favorites]


And... if it doesn't actually clear, a bowl of pressurized, ah, effluent to deal with. That solution requires something like the Dexter kill room hermetically sealed to the ceiling and a full hazmat suit.

Actually, is there a reasonable priced source for hazmat suits? Seems like one in the basement back closet could be handy occasionally.
posted by sammyo at 11:18 AM on June 19 [5 favorites]


Frankly, I was expecting an M80 or cherry bomb in there. That would've been a much better way to test the adhesive.
posted by jenkinsEar at 11:19 AM on June 19 [1 favorite]


I say we take off and nuke the entire shitter from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:21 AM on June 19 [3 favorites]


(doing best infomercial voice)
I know what you're thinking: "Sure, DirtyOldTown, we all enjoy unclogging toilets, but isn't there some way I could pressurize the poop and get it right next to my face?"
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:23 AM on June 19 [28 favorites]


I'd be really concerned about the seal between the toilet tank and the toilet bowl. I'm not sure that connection is designed to be pressure-tight on most toilets; it's only ever designed to have free-flowing water going through it when the toilet flapper valve is open.

Also, wouldn't this thing lead to shit-water coming back up through the flapper valve and into your toilet tank? Toilet tanks aren't exactly the cleanest of places as it is, but they're at least only filled with clean tap water. I feel like using this thing would be the same as having someone deliver an "upper decker" to your tank.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:26 AM on June 19 [12 favorites]


Seems like that additional flush is kind of risky. As in maybe an overflow. I would just pour water in to get the water level at an optimal height.
posted by notreally at 11:26 AM on June 19


You know those mornings where you're still half asleep, making coffee in your french press and fail to notice that the filter screen isn't quite parallel to the coffee and thus does not make a seal, which you notice after you plunge and hot coffee and grounds spews out the side?

Yeah…
posted by whyareyouatriangle at 11:39 AM on June 19 [3 favorites]


Kadin2048 makes a very good point, and not only that, with even a moderately solid clog the path of least resistance for the pressurized air is not clearing the clog, it's up through the rinsing openings all around the underside of the rim of the toilet and then bubbling up through the water of the tank, which is not the case with a plunger.
posted by jamjam at 11:41 AM on June 19 [5 favorites]


I'd be really concerned about the seal between the toilet tank and the toilet bowl. I'm not sure that connection is designed to be pressure-tight on most toilets; it's only ever designed to have free-flowing water going through it when the toilet flapper valve is open.

It should be sealed with a wax ring or dope.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:41 AM on June 19


i think y'all's missing the point of this tool

the plunger can be used multiple times

with this plastic tool, you need fresh adhesive every time

in order for this to take off, plunger manufacturers will have to start making worse and more expensive plungers to drive customers to this "more reliable" product.

Then, the company can make money *every time* a toilet is clogged, instead of every time a bathroom needs a new plunger.
posted by rebent at 11:49 AM on June 19 [1 favorite]


Ah yes I saw this review a few months ago and well I don't mind linking to eatyourkimchi 'cause really this is a Korean WTF.
posted by mrgroweler at 11:53 AM on June 19


the plunger can be used multiple times

Which is actually the worst aspect of the classic design. If ever a device cried out to be made disposable, it is the toilet plunger.
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:02 PM on June 19 [4 favorites]


Yoink, the less air that remains in the bowl, the more effective it will be. Water is effectively incompressable, so you're building up air pressure. Less air to compress, the higher the compression will be.

Yes, which would be relevant if you've sealed the toilet with epoxy or something. Toilet plungers never make a perfect seal with the bowl, and yet they get the job done. You're just trying to push a bit of shit and toilet paper through a reasonably large pipe, you don't need to be worrying about compressability of the air!
posted by yoink at 12:06 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]


the plunger can be used multiple times

How often do you use your toilet plunger on your toilet? I've used mine perhaps twice in the decade-plus I've lived in my current house. I don't think this is something one would use frequently enough for its disposability to be a serious concern.
posted by yoink at 12:10 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]


toilet plungers have very little, almost no air in them when used properly.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:10 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]


This is a terrible idea and gross.
posted by Our Ship Of The Imagination! at 12:17 PM on June 19


toilet plungers have very little, almost no air in them when used properly.

Stick a toilet plunger into a toilet bowl. As it goes in, it's full of air. Unless you have a fancy "toilet plunger with remote release valve" it's still got that air in it as you make a seal on the bottom of the bowl. Or, I guess, you could reach your hand in there, peel the bell of the plunger back, and release the air. Perhaps that is what you think is "using it properly"--I can assure you it's a minority opinion.

Now, if you've actually made a good seal on the bottom of bowl and you start pushing that plunger, guess what you're pushing? Air. You're pushing the bubble of air inside the bell of the plunger down into the line from the bottom of the bowl out to the drainage pipe. And guess what happens to that air? Does it compress in the face of the terrible, incompressible water? No--there's not sufficient resistance from the blockage to make that happen. The bubble of air, suffering no significant compression, pushes the column of water ahead of it, and that column of water pushes the blocked wad of shit-and-paper forward. And exactly the same thing would happen of you pushed on a rubbery sheet sealed across the top of the bowl.
posted by yoink at 12:26 PM on June 19 [3 favorites]


I like it, but maybe we could put the pressurized seal at the end of a two foot stick? And while we're at it, maybe make the end out of rubber so it's reusable?
posted by daveliepmann at 12:28 PM on June 19 [9 favorites]


Sort of six of one in my mind --though I do like the disposability-- but I am constantly amazed over the number of grown people who are ickied-yuckied-grossied-squeamish-freaked-out about something you have dealt with and been in actual physical contact with every day of your life since you were squirted out of the womb. Gross. Eh. Meh. But trigger warnings? Is everyone now scared of their own butts? Oh my God! Poop came out of me! And touched me! I'm a Hell dispenser!

Ya'll gonna have a great time with kids or elderly parents.
posted by umberto at 12:45 PM on June 19 [13 favorites]


Why do we need the sheet of plastic? Couldn't we just use our big fat asses to do this?
posted by oceanjesse at 12:48 PM on June 19 [12 favorites]


I don't see how this is really better than a plunger in any way. More wasteful, more prone to breakage and as others have said before it could force shit water up the holes that the toilet uses to flush.

It is novel, that's about all that can be said for it.
posted by Ferreous at 1:23 PM on June 19


Well, to be frank umberto, I was most definitely eating an empanada on my lunch break when this video popped up.

Now I don't know about you but I have this habit of trying to limit my exposure to feces when I put food in my mouth

Additionally, I tend to make that a general rule in my day-to-day and I believe the science of germs and shit will back me up on that front
posted by saucy_knave at 1:25 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]


Yup, germs'll getcha via video, due to an undocumented IP exploit that YouTube refuses to acknowledge.
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:30 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]


Actually, I think they shitcanned the idea of patching it.
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:31 PM on June 19


Clever, I guess, but it requires way too much close, hands-on interaction with a dirty toilet. Plungers are horrible but at least you can be standing up.
posted by zompist at 1:40 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]


Even if it does work, I'd be terrified of pulling the plastic up and releasing all of that shit vapor which is spring-loaded after all that suction. So in addition to the plastic sheet you'd need a gas mask, eye goggles and a HAZMAT suit. But at least you avoid having a plunger with poo berries on it.

If the Jackass guys were still popular, they would have a BLAST with this.
posted by ReeMonster at 1:49 PM on June 19 [2 favorites]


The disgust being expressed here makes this an unusual occasion on which "You're full of shit" is a wholly relevant and reasonable response.
posted by howfar at 2:03 PM on June 19


Okay yes, for a toilet this seems like a real disgusting anecdote waiting to happen. On the other hand, I'm now sitting here trying to think of how I can replicate this at home for use on my perennially slow-draining bathroom sink ...
posted by penduluum at 2:16 PM on June 19 [2 favorites]


Sorry, yoink, but MisantropicPainforest is absolutely correct -- toilet plungers work best if you push out any air trapped inside before you square them up and try to free your stoppage. You don't do this by sticking a hand in the bowl and manually futzing with the plunger, but by "priming" the plunger to displace the air trapped inside with water before you seal and pump it.

To do this:

1. Lower the bell of the plunger into the bowl.
2. Compress the bell without sealing it against the bowl. This drives out the trapped air and replaces it with water, which won't compress.
3. Uncompress the bell, under water but not yet sealed.
4. When the bell is filled with water, seal it up against the bowl and pump firmly once or twice to free the clog.

The intent is to use the water inside the plunger as a battering ram or hydraulic pump, and trapped air just interfere's with the mechanical aspect of this. If your plunger is full of air, that air will compress easily, and you end up compressing that air before it moves any water towards the clog. Will it still work if it's full of air? Yeah, probably...but it works much, MUCH better if there's little-to-no air inside the plunger's bell.

Next time you have a stopped toiled, give this method a try and see where it gets you.
posted by mosk at 2:20 PM on June 19 [7 favorites]


my perennially slow-draining bathroom sink
I once used a can of pressurized air to clear a slow bathtub drain. This was a drain clearing thing I picked up in the same aisle as the Drano/Liquid Plumber at a hardware store, not something I thought up myself. It had a foam collar to help you get a good seal and my roommate had to hold a washcloth over the overflow tube, but it worked reasonably well. I would zip or snake it first, drain volcano it second and then try pressurized air.
Make sure it is not AA batteries! My first apartment had at least four in the bathroom sink drain.
posted by soelo at 2:38 PM on June 19


I would zip or snake it first

Those people look so happy to be holding something so nasty.
posted by OwlBoy at 2:49 PM on June 19


I once used a can of pressurized air to clear a slow bathtub drain.

WATER RAM

My boss got us one of these about a year ago and it's seriously amazing. We only have to use a power auger about a quarter as much as before. That being said, although supposedly you can use it to unclog a toilet, I'm not that brave.
posted by hafehd at 2:54 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]


1. Lower the bell of the plunger into the bowl.
2. Compress the bell without sealing it against the bowl.


Oh, great, you're using a sink plunger rather than a proper flange plunger in your toilet. Guess what, if you're using the proper plunger in the toilet, there's no way you can "compress it against the bowl" without popping the flange back in and rendering it useless.

It is simply not true that the air "compresses" in any meaningful sense when you're using a toilet plunger in a blocked lav. Air is compressible, sure, but it's really not meaningfully so by hand using extruded rubber. If you're imagining that you squish that plunger down and--simply by the magnificent power of your astonishing brawn--you compress all the air into the collapsed bell of the plunger without the water moving...well, you're imagining the physically impossible. Either the air would escape (and bubble up around the plunger back to the surface), or--if that doesn't happen--it pushes the water (and the shit and the paper) merrily down the drain. Just as it would if you used this product without overflushing your toilet.
posted by yoink at 3:27 PM on June 19 [3 favorites]


This is just a packaging-up of an emergency, no-plunger-handy, toilet unplugging maneuver done with a plastic bag and tape that I've seen many times here in Korea (and elsewhere, for that matter). I'm surprised people are surprised. I've done it myself, McGyver-style, and it works fine, usually.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:45 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]


Usually.
posted by mochapickle at 3:56 PM on June 19 [5 favorites]


I would like to live in a world where the pongtu, or a simple plunger, are all that's needed to unclog toilets. What a simple, clean world that would be.
posted by Kevin Street at 4:04 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]


No, I'm not using a sink plunger. After several decades of doing it the way you suggest, I've found the way I suggest -- removing the air trapped in the plunger before plunging -- gives me better results. I don't understand the anger in your responses, but whatever. My apologies if my description/explanation doesn't pass your muster.
posted by mosk at 4:36 PM on June 19


When will the military and medicine start to trickle some practical technology into the bathroom?

Augers and plungers are primative, and draino is a nasty and harsh chemical.

Where are the stereoscopic endoscopes with little drills for boulders of waste and arterial stents for pipes with heavy build up? Or little submarine drones that meander around your home's sewage system, which transmit footage to your home's DVR and use little depth charges on any perceived threat?

We might also need plumber roombas that fix the inevitable structural damage to pipes, but look: Before we had cans, we didn't really want can openers, and before we had toilets, we did not need toilet plungers. This is the next logical step.
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:21 PM on June 19 [2 favorites]


I agree with mosk and since we are all authorities here on MetaFilter I do have about half a decade of plumbing experience under my belt. So maybe my technique is a product of my experience. If that's the case, you are all doing it wrong. Expel the air out of the plunger first.

And yes, that belt does hold up my pants.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 5:35 PM on June 19


Original blue Dawn, hot water, 10-15 minutes, flush.

Problem solved!
posted by pearlybob at 5:49 PM on June 19


Also, wouldn't this thing lead to shit-water coming back up through the flapper valve and into your toilet tank?

Yes. You can hear it happening in the video. Ick. That sound of gurgling water is in the tank, it's not coming from the sewer pipe.
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:53 PM on June 19 [2 favorites]


Nope.
Nope. Nope. Nope.

Should I have to plunge, I rest the plunger handle on the rim of the bowl and spray bleach cleaner on anything that has contacted the water. Let drip, then let rest on plastic bag in garbage can till dry. People who take the plunger out of the toidy and then set it down wet on the floor--gag!



I would zip or snake it first

Those people look so happy to be holding something so nasty.


Actually, there's a terrific sense of satisfaction when you can slowly bring the zip tool out of the drain covered in hairy yuck, all the while knowing that your drain will soon be running freely. These smiles are satisfied customers!

(However, it's not worth the couple bucks you spent to try to clean the zip off. Don't ask me how I know. Sometimes thrifty is not a virtue.)
posted by BlueHorse at 8:06 PM on June 19 [2 favorites]


Well, when I was stationed at Fort Devens, we wrapped a towel around the business end of fire extinguisher, to make a good seal at the appropriate orfice see, and Pooooo!.....All gone.

Anything that doesn't involve ... well, never mind. Plungers are not always effective.
posted by mule98J at 8:22 PM on June 19


This will never replace the plunger. Can you imagine trying to stick one of these things on a trombone?
posted by charlesminus at 8:48 PM on June 19 [2 favorites]


Clean and dry the plunger? What is this witchcraft? My germophobe wife has a pile of plungers from the dollar store. They're awful to work with, but since she can't burn them after use... off they go into the trash.
posted by JoeZydeco at 9:24 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]


Clean and dry the plunger? What is this witchcraft? My germophobe wife has a pile of plungers from the dollar store. They're awful to work with, but since she can't burn them after use... off they go into the trash.

Just throw 'em in the dishwasher like I do. Clean enough to eat off!
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:46 PM on June 19 [2 favorites]


It's like you are all living in a world where there isn't a thin sheen of shit over everything in your bathroom including your toothbrush. Burning the plunger won't help, that poop is everywhere no matter what you do.
posted by Literaryhero at 12:14 AM on June 20


...that poop is everywhere no matter what you do.

Yes, but I know how to do thermite.
posted by mikurski at 1:09 AM on June 20


I don't know what the hell us up with all you plunger lovers. They're rubbish and barely work any more.

Nowadays, they mostly seem to be made from plastic rather than rubber, making it almost impossible to get a good seal. And changes in toilet design aren't helping either.

These pongtu's definitely look like an improvement to me.

That said, if they sold these toilets in the UK, I'd go with one of those instead.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:13 AM on June 20


Now that's a technology that genuinely improves daily life! Super giant hero four flush toilet.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:39 AM on June 20


I've never had this happen, but it still doesn't stop me from always having this nagging fear in the back of my mind when I'm using someone else's bathroom that I'll flush only to find that the water won't stop rising and where's the plunger oh my god they don't even have a plunger what do I do all I did was pee why is this happening I am going to die of embarrassment oh fuck oh fuck oh fuck

I'm just saying these things look portable. There could be a market.
posted by sephira at 6:49 AM on June 20


including your toothbrush
My toothbrush lives in a drawer, not hanging out where anything can land on it.
posted by soelo at 8:13 AM on June 20


I'm just saying these things look portable.

I don't think you'd want to fold them, though. That would leave a crease in the adhesive-d part that would be almost impossible to seal properly...with hilarious/traumatic results.
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:39 AM on June 20


MisantropicPainforest: I'd be really concerned about the seal between the toilet tank and the toilet bowl. I'm not sure that connection is designed to be pressure-tight on most toilets; it's only ever designed to have free-flowing water going through it when the toilet flapper valve is open.

It should be sealed with a wax ring or dope.


You are thinking of the bottom of the toilet; the question is about the seal going up to the supply tank. In the US, there's simply a lightweight rubbler flap there; I can't see how this method wouldn't just blow that seal open to release the pressure. As long as the "blackwater" (to use the hygenic term) wasn't up to the rim, there'd only be an air blowback... but it still shouldn't be enough to flush.

I'm guessing the unseen part of this device is someone physically holding that flap down in the supply tank (which is perfectly clean water... to begin with, at least).
posted by IAmBroom at 11:23 AM on June 20


And... I'm wrong, according to the Pushover Plunger commercial The Power Nap posted.

In fact, it seems like a sealed garbage bag oughta do it. In theory. Not gonna test it.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:26 AM on June 20 [1 favorite]


I once used a can of pressurized air to clear a slow bathtub drain.

WATER RAM


Whoa black Betty, water ram... whoaaa, black Betty...

(sorry)
posted by gern at 11:40 AM on June 20 [1 favorite]


IAmBroom, I just watched three times now and I can't stop laughing! Best of the web!

And yes, the water is blue!
posted by mochapickle at 11:42 AM on June 20


(Oh, sorry The Power Nap! I missed your original link, too!)
posted by mochapickle at 11:43 AM on June 20 [1 favorite]


I've never had this happen, but it still doesn't stop me from always having this nagging fear in the back of my mind when I'm using someone else's bathroom that I'll flush only to find that the water won't stop rising and where's the plunger oh my god they don't even have a plunger what do I do all I did was pee why is this happening I am going to die of embarrassment oh fuck oh fuck oh fuck


Big Boy by David Sedaris.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 1:10 PM on June 20


Oh Slarty...

I was over at my first girlfriend's house for the first time (lotta firsts) when the urge hit mid introductions. I whisked myself off to the bathroom and fired off one of my 2/3rd - 1/3rd's. That's 2/3rds above the water, 1/3rd below. Fantastic.

I flush and watch as this thing dances around the outlet like an avatar in Tempest. Once this thing works itself into position it swiftly darts down the hole, only to stop abruptly with only the smallest sliver sticking out. There is a marked difference in waterflow at this time, as it is now rising quickly to the top of the bowl.

I must react quickly.

I spy the plunger, my only weapon, and arm myself quickly. I dip the cup of the plunger into the ever rising water, place it over the outlet, and give two very violent strokes. The receding water heralds my victory, mere centimeters from the top of the bowl.

I exit the bathroom to a bemused girlfriend. Apparently the sound of a flushing toilet paired with a panicked yelp attracts attention. This is not the only story I have of new relationship-embarrassing defecation.

I hate my butt.
posted by The Power Nap at 3:08 PM on June 20 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: I hate my butt.
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:53 PM on June 20 [2 favorites]


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