Thanks to our many years of emergency calls for clogged drains and overflowing toilets, we’ve seen it all! It’s almost like an unwritten law of the universe: If there is something that should not go down the drain in your house, eventually that thing will go down your drain for some reason. Anyone with kids will tell you this is true!
Unfortunately for renters and homeowners, this usually means that a simple plunger or drain cleaner is not going to get the job done. And that’s when you will be calling for some professional help from a plumber. To help you avoid this, here are five things that should never go down the drain:
1. Products That Say “Flushable” on Them
Sooner or later, false advertising laws are going to kick in and include products that use the word “flushable” on them. Unfortunately, we’re not there yet. Overflowing toilets are still the #1 reason why people call a plumber to their house, and two of the biggest culprits are: “Flushable” baby wipes and “flushable” kitty litter.
We know. It says “flushable” right there on the packaging, doesn’t it? But the lesson here is that if it says “flushable” on it, you’re better off disposing of it in the trash.
Flushable kitty litter has too many solids in it for many low-flow toilets to be able to handle it. Those solids are especially bad if your home uses a septic system. (We should also note that flushing pet waste is illegal in some states, due to bacteria and other organisms in it.)
As for flushable baby wipes, they don’t fall apart the same way that toilet paper does. If you put too many of these wipes down the toilet at the same time, they’ll just clump together into a ball eventually and clog your pipes.
2. Cooking Oils & Fats
Olive oil, bacon grease and many other similar cooking products are delicious — while simultaneously being terrible for your pipes. What gives? These products swished around in the frying pan just fine while you were sautéing your lunch!
The oils are in liquid form while they are exposed to high heat on the stove. But as soon as those products make contact with cold water in your pipes, they immediately turn into a big solid, greasy blob of fat that forms a clog. Even if it doesn’t form a clog immediately, those fats will start to coat the inside of your pipes, which reduces the diameter and starts to limit water flow. Eventually, your sink will start to clog and back up.
3. Absorbent Foods
Absorbent foods like rice and pasta are some of the most common culprits that cause sink clogs in apartment buildings. If you put rice or pasta down the drain, it can continue to absorb water until it eventually swells up and blocks off the pipe.
“But I put it through the garbage disposal!” Unfortunately, your garbage disposal doesn’t remove the absorbent properties of these foods. If you have some leftover rice or pasta on your plate, scrape it off in the trash can before doing the dishes. Your pipes will thank you for this.
4. Paper Towels, Tissues & Menstrual Products
Kleenex and paper towels simply are not made the same way as toilet paper. The only paper product that you should ever flush down the toilet is toilet paper, because it is specifically designed to break up and not cause a clog in your drain. Tissues and paper towels will sit there in your drain, just waiting to cause a clog.
Menstrual products are another item that many people assume are flushable. However, these are not meant to break down in water. In fact, they do the opposite. Menstrual products will absorb water until they swell up and block your pipes.
Most types of chemicals should not be flushed down your toilet, because they can end up in local groundwater. While bleach is one of the most common household cleaners, many people are surprised to learn that you shouldn’t put it in your toilet.
This is because bleach is simply too harsh for most toilets and septic systems. Vinegar and a scrub brush work fine to remove toilet stains — but try to avoid using or flushing bleach.
When All Else Fails, Call Us!
Like we mentioned before, if something can clog your drain, we’ve probably seen it happen before — and we know exactly how to unclog it. Contact us if you need emergency plumbing services for any type of clog or overflow.