Down the Drain

Columbus Chamber
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Member Insights by The Waterworks

Many people flush the toilet or watch the water drain out of the sink and don’t give a second thought to where it goes. Unfortunately, flushing or disposing of the wrong items down your pipes can only lead to big plumbing problems. Here are 10 things you should never put down the drain.

1. Grease & Cooking Oil

Grease traveling down a drain will mix with other fats and water to create what plumbers lovingly call “fatbergs.” These slimy balls of waste clog pipes as they solidify. This happens in the pipes in your homes and in sewers far beyond your property line. Notable fatbergs include a 150-ton, 280-foot long monster under Whitechapel, London. It took two months to remove.

2. Bones

This one should be obvious, but plumbers see it all the time. Large bones are much too tough for the average garbage disposal to handle. Attempts to dispose of them will bend garbage disposal blades and clog pipes. Smaller bones, such as fish bones, can still be disposed of through a garbage disposal.

3. Coffee Grounds

Liquids will flow while solids tend to float or sink. Unfortunately, the density of coffee grounds makes them sink to the bottom of your pipes and become trapped. Building up over time, coffee grounds poured into the sink will cause a clog in the u-bend and other pipe corners and dips.

4. Flour

When flour and water combine, they make a sort of paste. When flour poured down your drain meets the water from your tap, it instantly forms this paste and will clog your pipes. Plumbers even warn against dumping water used to boil pasta down the sink as it is full of starch and can thicken within plumbing.

5. Prescriptions

Never, ever, ever flush your unused medications down the drain or the toilet. Sanitation facilities do not filter water for these compounds and the combination of medications dissolving into lakes and rivers creates a toxic environment for wildlife. A better way to dispose of medication is to surrender it to your local pharmacy.

6. Cleaners

Many companies are toning down the levels of harmful chemicals in their cleaning products. But even natural cleaning products can mean big trouble if combined in your drain. There are three particular combinations to look out for.

  • Bleach + Anything

Bleach should never be combined with other chemicals (vinegar, ammonia, rubbing alcohol, etc.) because the combination results in the release of toxic gasses.

  • Vinegar + Hydrogen Peroxide

When used one after the other, these two solutions create a powerful disinfectant. When combined, they produce a strong acid that can harm you and your plumbing.

  • Vinegar + Baking Soda

This combo is the perfect experiment if you need to create a volcano for a 5thgrade science fair. But if it goes down your drains… the same reaction will be magnified when it occurs within your pipes.

7. Chemicals

Chemicals such as paint, motor oil, transmission fluid, and other products should never be poured down a drain, even a street drain. These are toxic to aquatic animals and the people relying on natural water reservoirs for drinking and household water. Recycle these chemicals at the proper facility in your area.

8. Animal waste

Disposing of animal waste down the toilet can be harmful to you and to waterways. Animal waste attracts different and harmful bacteria. Even “flushable” cat litter can clog pipes and bring foreign parasites into waste water treatment plants.

9. Flushable wipes

Speaking of “flushable” …those wet wipes you’ve been using are anything but. These wipes do not dissolve like toilet paper. Instead, they trap grease and fat and contribute largely to the fatbergs mentioned earlier. Not only are you spending more money on something harming the environment, but now your local government has to raise taxes to help remove these wipes from sewers. In short, there’s nothing good about “flushable” toilet wipes.

10. Pets

The number of animals washed down the drain each year is shocking. It is both unethical and very stupid for your plumbing. Live animals should be given to rescues or humane societies if they are unwanted. Deceased animals, such as fish, do not need a burial at sea. They won’t decompose and will most likely clog your home’s plumbing. Find a nice spot for them in the yard instead.

If you want to protect your home’s plumbing, then you should never put these 10 things down the drain. If you are dealing with a clog or issue caused by something flushed down your toilet or drain, call your trusted local plumber today.