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To Flush or Not to Flush: A Super-Simple Guide to Preventing Toilet Clogs

man with plunger and clogged toilet

Everyone’s experienced a clogged toilet, and many of you have even needed plumbing repairs from a flush gone wrong. You may have heard “Can I flush it?” whispered or shouted from room to room throughout your lifetime, whether “it” pertains to two-week old moldy soup, pharmaceuticals, baby wipes or toiletries. We’ve all had that minor pause before just tossing some arbitrary object into your septic system thinking “I probably shouldn’t, but meh.”

Why do we do this? Mostly it boils down to a ‘what’s the worst that could happen’ scenario, but honestly you really should stop to think about the actual ramifications of this minor action. The smallest problem you may encounter could be a small toilet clog, but with some items, particularly chemicals and solid objects, a toilet clog may be the least of your problems.

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What Can’t I Flush?

For safety and propriety’s sake, pretty much anything that wasn’t designed to be flushed shouldn’t be flushed. But, there are a few particularly common items plumbers and sanitation workers encounter in our septic and sewer systems that just really, really shouldn’t be there.

  • Floss. Super-common, and not biodegradable. It may not seem like much, but think about you flossing and then flushing the floss. Now think about your family doing it. And then your neighbors. And the rest of the city. Suddenly, we’re dealing with catastrophic levels of floss in our sewer system, and that’s just no good.
  • Fats. Grease, oil, and animal fat are all commonly sloshed into a drain daily. It may seem pretty innocent to flush it, but it’s really not. The grease from last night’s stewwill cling to your pipes, and after enough stews, you’re looking at a toilet clog for sure.
  • Pharmaceuticals. Tossing expired medication into your toilet may seem like an easy way to rid yourself of it. But you’re not really ridding yourself of it, are you? Our sewage systems are all connected. And while filtration systems are pretty good these days, tossing five-year-old Vicodin into the water supply is a poor decision.
  • Contraceptives. Have a giggle if you like, but this one is a huge no-no. Male and female condoms are made of the same non-biodegradable problem as the floss, but now in balloon form. These can do huge damage to the environment, and you donot want a plumber finding this to be the reason for your toilet clog.
  • Cotton swabs. Small, disposable and no one will notice. Right? Nope, these puppies can build a dam in your pipes even beavers would be jealous of. Beyond that, just like any plastic or rubber product, they don’t break down naturally, so they can harm the sewer system and environment.
  • Feminine Products. You’ve seen the signs in public bathrooms, but every woman knows the struggle of throwing used items into a trash can vs. a quick disposal down the toilet. Don’t do it. Tampons and sanitary napkins don’t break down, and can cause clogs.
  • Toilet bowl scrub pads. Even if they’re marketed as safe to flush, they aren’t. They’re full of chemicals that are hard to be cleansed from the water supply. Throw them away.
  • Cigarette butts. These were never meant to be flushed, and will never break down.

When You Need Plumbing Repairs from Toilet Clogs, Contact HVAC & Plumbing Unlimited

For more information about plumbing advice, or for more tips on home lifestyles and improvement, keep up with our blog. Or if you have questions specifically regarding your in-home or business plumbing, contact the experts at HVAC & Plumbing Unlimited today!

HVAC Unlimited Inc.
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Ardree - Springfield, VA
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