What Not to Flush: Uncommon Plumbing Wisdom

Jeff Palady
President
Budget Rooter

Website

Along with a mess, toilet clogs cost homeowners tremendous amounts of money and time. Americans spend more than $200 million a year on drain cleaners. Unfortunately, even the best drain formulas won’t unclog serious blockages. Save yourself stress by knowing what not to put down the toilet.

Baby wipes or “flushable” wipes. These convenient products make parents feel like stewards of the environment. And they are big business—the industry generates $2.1 billion in annual revenue. There’s only one problem: so-called flushable wipes do not belong in the toilet. Why? They take a long time to degrade, and they catch on other materials and create clogs.

Diapers. Disposable diapers retain water. They don’t disintegrate. Use a diaper pail or a diaper service—never flush them.

Tampons/sanitary napkins. Major brands, like Tampax and Kotex, instruct users not to send their products down the drain—and for good reason. Tampons do not degrade, and they easily get caught in pipes and tangled up with other debris.

Band-aids. If it’s plastic, then it’s a no-go. Plastic doesn’t dissolve.

Fats/oils/grease. News stories have been describing “fatbergs” that are creating chaos in municipal water supplies. These form when wipes cover sewage grates, and then fat solidifies around them. Substantial masses often accrete over time. All oils and grease from cooking—“good” fats and “bad” fats alike—can indirectly contribute to these nasty hazards.

Condoms. Latex doesn’t degrade. It also frequently snags on other debris to create a snarl of material that blocks the flow of water.

Cotton balls and swabs. Cotton absorbs water, and thus even small amounts of flushed cotton can cause big problems. Threads attach to and tangle with other material, leading to blockages.

Cat litter. Cat owners, especially those who live in apartment spaces, often keep litter boxes in their bathrooms. While some litter brands tout their products as “flushable,” experts tell us that litter hangs around in the bends of pipes and builds up.

Dental floss. Floss is not biodegradable, and it also wraps around other items. Dental floss doesn’t dissolve, either, so it can erode efficiency of your plumbing over the long-term.

Paper towels. The strength of a paper towel, while admirable in the kitchen, isn’t conducive to flushing. Paper products, outside of toilet paper, can linger in pipes.

Drain cleaner. Ironically, the very chemicals you may use hoping to clean a pipe pose a risk to both pipes and humans, and it doesn’t work on elements that won’t degrade. If you suspect a non-flushable item caused a clog, contact an experienced plumber—like Budget Rooter—with the expertise and tools to deal with the challenge.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jeff Palady, RMP is the President and co-owner of Budget Rooter Plumbing & Drain Cleaning.  This family owned plumbing company has been serving their customers for more than 25 years, and makes customer service and quality of work their priority.

Jeff started working in the field at the age of fifteen under the tutelage of his father, who owned a Philadelphia-based plumbing and drain cleaning company.  At the age of eighteen, Jeff and his mother decided to open their own shop in their home state of Delaware.  For the first few years, Jeff was Budget Rooter’s only field technician, and was often out on calls until late at night while going to school to earn his Master’s License.  As Budget Rooter grew, Jeff trained new technicians, researched and purchased the best equipment, and today he manages the operations of the company.

Known for being dedicated to Budget Rooter, Jeff is one of the first to arrive in the morning and is usually the last to leave.  In his spare time, Jeff enjoys fishing, modifying his truck, and spending time with his wife and two sons.  

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