After the great basement flood of '10 and the largely forestalled mini flood two weeks ago, and with Hurricane Irene possibly coming to call, we decided we needed to come up with at least a slightly better plan in the event of another sewer backup.
We're going to try inflatable test plugs- basically a heavy rubber balloon that you put into a pipe (or toilet U bend) and then inflate. They're typically used in new construction when the plumbing on a house is tested to make certain there are no leaks. They put these in every drain, and then pressurize the system, and it has to hold pressure for 24 hours.
I do think that the warning tag is a bit extreme! For the record, I'm going to risk life and limb and NOT wear a safety helmet while I put it in. The bright orange tag might be a good clue to others that the toilet should not be used however! Note that it takes a Schrader valve, so I can use a bike pump to inflate it. Although perhaps I need a dedicated pump since I'll be sticking it in the toilet bowl. hmmm.
The most convenient place for me to get one locally turned out to be Grainger, which is one of those Mega-industrial supply places, like Home Depot on Steroids. Need a continuity tester? Check.
Need a conveyor belt? Check, Need a mop and janitor's supplies? Check.
I'm mostly familiar with their telephone-book sized catalog, which I like to peruse when I can't get to a hardware store, but have a practical products jones that needs to be scratched. But it turns out that they have a store about a mile away from my office, which is convenient. There's an old warehouse/ industrial district with a working waterfront, with a lot of industrial truck traffic and a distinct smell of fish. But they've converted the closer-in part of the area to fancy restaurants and shops, the new Institute for Contemporary art, and a giant convention center. So it's an odd experience- there's a bike lane, lots of streetlife, and then boom, you're tossed in amoung the semi-trailers. Fortunately I didn't have to ride far through that district, but these photos give you an idea of the feel of the place: