All three toilets in our house have been slow - we've been getting by with occasional plunging. Sammy (& Nathan?) has discovered the joy of dropping objects in the toilet and flushing them away. Ha ha, what fun; let's do that again. We learned about this from finding toothbrushes, coins, spoons, etc. in the bottom of the toilet bowls - items that don't easily get up over the trap wall. We of course explained to Sammy in very stern terms to Not Do That Anymore, but with, shall we say, questionable success. So, lately, the frequency of plunging has been annoying enough that I bought a couple of drain augers - something I should've done much earlier. Yesterday morning, from the downstairs bathroom, it extracted a Leapfrog educational game cartridge - about the size of a PCMCIA card. Wasn't able to get anything out of the master bathroom, but it did clearly dislodge a clog - the toilet sped up considerably, but there's probably still something in there.
In the boys' bathroom, I couldn't get the snake past the trap - it'd go up, and then coil around and come back down into the bowl. So I decided to swap the toilet out, which I've never done before. I'd scratched up the bowl with one of the augers, and it was old and ugly anyway. Monica recruited Von from church (which I had skipped to stay home and play with the toilets) to come help me, for which I was very thankful. I found out later that Von changed his family's plans that day so he could help me. He is such a nice guy. Mike and Robin also came over with their boys, so we had a little septic celebration going on. When we got the toilet off and flipped it over, there was a big Lego-like block wedged tightly up in the backside of the trap. All that plunging had jammed it in there nicely.
So now we have a new toilet that flushes like a dream. I may have to replace the master as well, so I'm glad I know how to do it now. (Apologies to quirky_layne that we didn't do this before she came to visit.)
Anyway, moral of the story is: if you have slow/stopped drains, unless you know for sure that it's only waste material, auger before you plunge. You may be packing your clog more tightly.
Off to work.
ETA: Just got a call from Joy - turns out that when Sam was over at their house for small group last night, he flushed an undetermined number of their Noah's Ark figures down the toilet. This is a set of old, handmade toys that have been in their family for years. She knows this because, upon plunging, the zebra came back up. My engines are down this AM due to a gas supply pressure problem anyway, so I offered to come over with my newly acquired toilet fixing skills, but she said the plumber was already on their way. She just wanted to know if Sam could tell us how many toys he'd flushed - but he's at daycare, and certainly isn't going to answer a question like that over the phone.
Someone's getting a spanking tonight.