Although toilets and trash cans are waste disposal tools, a toilet is not a trash can. All too often, people flush things that cause clogs and back flows that result in overflowing toilets and even damage to entire plumbing networks. Sometimes the damage results in expensive repairs and higher property insurance premiums. Here are some things you may be tempted to flush, but definitely should not.
Human and Pet Hair
Unlike toilet paper, hair does not break down quickly when exposed to water. Instead, it passes through pipes until it reaches a bend or a rough interior surface and then clumps. The hair alone then causes a blockage or other materials cling to it and block the pipe.
Health and Beauty Products
Plenty of health and beauty products are designed to absorb fluids instead of dissolve, including cotton balls, cotton swabs, baby and lens wipes, diapers, tampons and pads. Products like dental floss, tampon strings and stretchy hair ties have the same result as hair. Additionally, some products contain plastics, metals and other materials that take a long time to break down in water. Don’t flush panty liners and pad wrappers, disposable razor heads or self-adhesive bandages.
Prescription and OTC Drugs
Drugs contain chemicals that are difficult to remove from public water supplies without special equipment. Many water treatment plants do not have the necessary tools to remove these chemicals. Certain drugs like antibiotics that kill both good and bad bacteria and other microorganisms travel out of sewage systems into above-ground and underground fresh water supplies. Other drugs, such as hormones and steroids, also cause unhealthy physical changes in water-based lifeforms.
Obviously, cleaning products are no better than prescription and over-the-counter medications when it comes to their composition. Many cleaning products contain chemicals designed to destroy microorganisms. Some contain toxic substances that cause cancer and other unhealthy changes in plants and animals. Several “absorbent” paper towel products fail to break down quickly enough in pipes and cause clogs. Micro-cleaning clothes do not break down at all.
Literally any other trash that has the potential to block pipes or damage plants and animals can cause serious repair or environmental emergencies. The only things you should ever flush down the toilet are physical waste, such as urine, feces, vomit, and toilet paper. Use a trash can for the rest.
Misuse of your toilet’s disposal capabilities can be harmful to your septic tank in the long run. Professionals like Puget Sound Plumbing have state-of-the-art drain cleaning equipment to clear your pipes before they ever get backed up beyond repair. Don’t hesitant to call someone with more experience for your pipe problems. Maintenance on your system can be a long and costly process, so it’s better to be safe beforehand.
June 6, 2016