Aside from being the primary source of waste water within a home, toilets can be the cause of significant plumbing issues, which can cause significant amounts of damage to a house. In fact, water damage accounts for 22% of all homeowners insurance claims, more than any other source.
The thing is, it’s not all these appliances’ fault. We’ve all done it: you throw a piece of used paper towel into the toilet after killing a spider in the bathroom because it’s so much easier than finding a garbage can. What you may not realize is that you can cause significant damage to your pipes and sewer system by haphazardly flushing items that weren’t meant to pass through a sewer. When this is the case, you will often have to have a plumbing professional do a sewer camera inspection, as well as perform other costly plumbing services.
The next time you find yourself thinking of tossing something in the toilet for a quick flush, remember these 10 items that should never be dropped down the drain:
Bathroom wipes/Tampons/Sanitary Napkins:
While they are marketed as flushable, none of these products break down easily in water. For tampons specifically, many women choose to flush their tampons without realize they are a significant cause of household clogs. The cotton from tampons can get caught very easily on cracks in pipes, creating an obstruction. Other objects can get caught on the cotton and create a buildup.
One sewer system technician said it best when he told The Guardian, ”I’ve been down the sewers in central London and seen what appear to be fish on the surface. They’re actually condoms filled with air, bobbing around. It is pretty grim.”
Latex prophylactics are awful for septic tanks and sewage treatment plants, creating significant issues every year. Plumbing contractors have to complete a sewer camera inspection to locate the issue and remove the condom from the sewer system.
After you’re done flossing in the bathroom mirror, your gut reaction may be to toss the floss into the toilet. However, floss isn’t biodegradable, so it can’t be broken down naturally. Also, floss is easily snagged in cracks in pipes.
Yes, even if the diaper package says ‘flushable,’ it’s best to avoid sending these down the drain. Diapers are made of toxic plastic that is designed to expand when it becomes wet, meaning it will most likely be caught in the drain the second it hits the water. If you’re able to actually flush it, it will becomes stuck in the u-bend of the pipe, creating a total blockage of your toilet.
Fats, oil, and grease:
While these ingredients are in liquid form after coming out of the pan, they will congeal and harden the second they hit the cool water. This will create a serious issue when they stick to the pipes and create a blockage.
Litter is made of two primary ingredients for a clog: clay and sand. Also, cat waste contains toxins and parasites that should never be introduced to our water system.
The chemicals and compounds that make up prescription medication aren’t meant to be placed into the water system, potentially contaminating the water source for countless animals and people. They are one of the biggest culprits of contamination in our sewer systems.
If you’re unsure of a product’s ability to be broken down after being flushed, just throw it in the garbage. It’s better to be safe than sorry, especially when a mistake can cost you thousands of dollars for a sewer camera inspection and sewer repair. Sewers are meant to last at least 40 years but their lifespan can be decreased significantly with repeated clogs and obstructions.