There are certain things that you should never flush down your toilet – should you wish to keep the system running properly. It is a miracle that some systems are still running smoothly after being used as watery trash disposal bins over the years. We at Plumbing Ways frequently assist clients whose systems have been compromised due to foreign objects being flushed – and oftentimes it can be a time-consuming and costly affair. So, to avoid a similar situation for yourself, check out the plumber Cape Town guide of things to NOT flush down the loo.
First up on the list is baby wipes, also known as wet wipes. These are unsurprisingly one of the most common non-flushables that end up in toilet systems – responsible for some of the most severe clogs. Although manufacturers are always quick to indicate that they should be disposed of in a wastebasket, these warnings often go ignored. Baby wipes do not disintegrate the same way that toilet paper does, and when a big enough mass of them collect in the system, problems begin to arise.
The problem with wipes is not that they will not flush down the system properly. Rather, the problem emerges later on, as the wipes move through your sewer system. Toilet paper breaks apart within around 24 hours, where wet wipes, on the other hand, are practically imperishable, even if submerged in water for days on end. Many plumber Cape Town professionals will attest to the fact that baby wipes have been found in drain pipes completely intact even after being flushed months before.
They tend to group together and form a large build-up that has the potential to clog drain lines and eventually, back up plumbing systems altogether. Some curious individual conducted a test wherein wet wipes were placed in a blender for around 10 minutes. Even after this extreme action, the wipes remained pretty much intact. This goes to show how durable they can be.
Disposing of wet wipes in the toilet can lead to what is known as the “fatberg effect.” This refers to a condition wherein baby wipes combine with grease, fat and other types of dirt that are trapped in the pipes – and ultimately create an ice-berg like shape. These formations lead to huge clogs forming in drains and pipes – and in some cases, fatbergs can grow up to 3 metres long and can weigh up to 45 kilograms! They are often found in homes, and are responsible for thousands of rands’ in plumber Cape Town repairs.
In the event that the baby wipes flushed do not merge and get stuck in the pipes, they can still cause damage when they reach the sewer system. If you have a home septic system – you may be in huge trouble. This is because the wipes will not cause blockages within the septic tank, which can result in a backed up sewer that could quite literally come back into your home through your drains, sinks, bathtubs and any other orifices connected to your septic system. Not only would the clean-up be costly, but repairs could become excessively expensive.
So, the best way to avoid this from happening is by ensuring that wet wipes are never disposed of in the toilet system. If you are in charge of a bed and breakfast or have a home that sees frequent guests, we as your reliable plumber Cape Town company recommend you ensure that you place educational posters or notes in the bathrooms that warn users not to throw wet wipes in the toilet. Doing so can save you thousands in the long run.
Cotton swabs, pads and earbuds are another no-no when it comes to flushing. Like wet wipes, they do not break down the way that toilet paper does in the system. Instead, they clump together and can cause significant problems down the line. If you think about the shape of an earbud, they can easily catch onto debris in the system and form a structure that can clog up the pipes and prompt a call to your trusted plumber Cape Town company. Oftentimes, the entire toilet will need to be dismounted in order for your plumber to solve the issue – and this will not come cheap.
The flushing of menstrual products can often be attributed to a lack of education as well as a lack of waste bin next to the toilet facility. Without one, people experiencing menstruation may fear disposing their used products in public because of the stigma attached to menstruating. Despite this, pads and tampons should never be flushed down the toilet, since their function is to absorb liquid instead of break down in it. This means that when flushed, they will only expand, which understandably is not good for anyone’s plumbing.
When it comes to sanitary pads, they feature plastic back and side strips where the glue is placed. This plastic comprises of polyethylene and is not great for the planet when disposed of incorrectly. In fact, it takes between 500 and 800 years to break down. Flushing pads and tampons down the toilet can also spread disease due to the bodily waste that they contain. Overall, the importance of providing educational posters as well as appropriate waste bins in bathrooms cannot be understated in this regard.
As surprising as it might be, people regularly flush condoms down the toilet. Obviously, condoms are designed to withstand water and certainly not break down in it. As a result, flushing them leads to clogs in toilets and septic tanks. A recent video that went viral outlined the issue of flushing condoms down the toilet, by showing a collection of around 15 condoms that ended up in a river in Montreal. Condoms often end up in public waterways as a result of being flushed, and they pose environmental threats to animals and the public alike.
This seems rather obvious, but it does not stop tired parents from disposing diapers in the toilet. In the same way as menstrual products, diapers are specifically designed to absorb water. Further, they too do not break down in water. The fact that they are also quite large means that the likelihood of them causing significant blockages increases by a large degree. Plumber Cape Town professionals believe that they should be disposed of in rubbish bins wrapped up appropriately to avoid health hazards.
We may be fooled by film and media that show people dropping their pills down the drain or toilet that it is an acceptable practice. To the contrary, it is not. Studies have shown that medicines flushed down the loo or drain contaminate our waterways and sewerage systems. They can end up hurting fish and other wildlife. Some traces of them can actually end up in our drinking water.
Further, there are many medications – namely antidepressants and hormones – that include endocrine disrupting compounds, which are known to interfere with the reproduction processes of aquatic species such as frogs and fish in particular. When pills are flushed down drains or toilets, they usually end up in the wastewater treatment system, which is specifically engineered to clean up water. However, most of these treatment systems are not designed to remove medications from the water.
When medications are flushed down a toilet or drain, they enter the wastewater treatment system, which cleans up the water. Unfortunately, many of these treatments systems are not designed to remove medications. Plumber Cape Town companies recommend that they should be disposed of carefully at appropriate drop-off sites.
Although some cat litter brands claim to be flushable, many toilets do not use enough water to move the litter along the pipes effectively. Rather opt to throw away the litter in a rubbish bin, despite the pungent smell. When flushed down the toilet, it becomes one of those materials that make water more difficult to purify.
Further, cat waste from litter boxes should not be flushed down the toilet, which may come as a surprise to some cat owners. This is because cat litter is designed to dehydrate waste. Toilets are designed to flush water-soluble waste, not dry waste.
It is all too easy to finish your flossing session by dropping the used strands in the toilet bowl. However, as well as clogging your pipes, dental floss has the potential to cause environmental damage when you flush it. When flushed, floss turns into a net, which effectively catches and holds onto other debris. In fact, it can also wrap around certain parts of your septic system and cause strain to the motor.
Tissues and paper towels
Many people believe that tissues and paper towels are not so different from toilet paper. This is not the case. Like most paper-related items in this list, they are not designed to break down in water in the same way.
Hair clumps can be unsightly, and many people could not be bothered to make the trip to the household’s main rubbish bin to throw them away after pulling them from a brush. This is a mistake – and any plumber Cape Town company would be able to tell you that flushing hair down the toilet can cause major issues.
Have you ever had to call in a plumber Cape Town professional to clear hair out of your blocked shower drain? If the answer is yes, then you have a pretty good mental image of what hair does when congealed. Hair never dissolves, and this adds to the risk of clogging your system with it.
It may be tempting to spare your kitchen sink the hot grease from a pan after cooking, but flushing grease is never a good idea. When grease cools down, it congeals significantly. This makes it thicker and therefore the risk of it clogging your system increases considerably.
This one may come as quite the surprise, since many toilet cleaning agents contain bleach to remove stains from the toilet bowl. However, bleach is much too harsh for septic systems and toilets. Instead, try to use vinegar to clean stains.
Emptying out an ash tray in a toilet is not a good idea, but many people dispose of them this way to prevent the distinct odour from rising out of the rubbish bin. Having the potential to lead to clogs, cigarette butts consist of toxic chemicals which are subsequently added to the water when flushed.
Calling Plumbing Ways, your trusted plumber Cape Town company, in the case of a toilet clog
Oftentimes, after flushing any of the above non-flushables, toilet and pipe clogs are bound to ensue. Do not panic if this is the case, however. As we at Plumbing Ways, your reliable plumber Cape Town company, are ready to come to your assistance. We offer affordable rates for all your toilet plumbing needs – no matter you may have flushed down the loo.