Photo By Sergey Yechikov at Shutterstock
One of the most common calls for plumbing service fielded by most San Antonio, TX plumbers is from homeowners with clogged plumbing lines or toilet issues. Unfortunately, many of these repairs are brought on by the homeowner and other occupants of the household who flush things down the loo like it’s some sort of garbage disposal for the bathroom. Yes, entirely avoidable repairs are still repairs—and as such, they still rack up unnecessary bills for the unlucky homeowner.
Ah, the toilet. The john. The throne. Call it what you will, but if it isn’t working, life can take an ugly turn around the old homestead while you wait for plumbing services from your local plumbing professional. No one really thinks about the toilet and how much it affects their lives until theirs suddenly isn’t performing as it should, or worse yet, it overflows into the floor, causing a huge stinking mess that no one wants to clean up. Keeping your toilet and the lines running to it clear from obstructions and clogs can keep you out of the queue for plumbing services (and the expense that they bring with them). Let’s have a look at what you should NOT be putting in your toilet if you want to avoid a bill for repairs.
Let’s start out by saying that in most cities in the United States, including San Antonio, the plumbing is very modern and up-to-date in most homes, and most properties are connected to the city’s modern sewer system. This gives people who are flushing toilets false confidence that they can send a number of un-flushable items on their way down the drain by throwing them into the toilet and giving it a flush. That’s what we like to call—wrong. While the sewer is modern, pipes are not meant for the mirage of items that are ending up in them, and then homeowners find themselves calling out for plumbing services to remedy the problems they cause.
What Are the Top Offenders?
Among the many, many things that should not be going down your toilet are these common items:
- Cat litter: If you know the premise of how cat litter works, you can see that it might become problematic to flush some down your toilet. Cat litter works by drawing in moisture (urine) that forms clumps that can be scooped out when you clean the litter box. Now imagine dumping that in the toilet. Problems are bound to ensue, and the need for plumbing services will follow. Just skip the cost and the drama and put it in a trash receptacle instead.
- Cigarette butts: If you’ve developed a habit of smoking in the bathroom and then throwing the butt of the cigarette in the toilet, break it. Although cigarette butts are fairly small, over time or when clinging to other obstructions in the plumbing lines, they can help in the formation of a clog and your subsequent need for plumbing services. And besides, they’re laden with chemicals that can end up seeping into our water supply. Again, just put them in the trash, or better yet, quit smoking. (Sorry, we had to throw that one in there!)
- Condoms: Dispose of condoms in the trash. They’re notorious for causing clogs and blockages in plumbing lines; just imagine how embarrassed you’ll be if your plumber has to come dig one out when you call for plumbing services.
- Cotton balls and swabs: They may seem small, but they are not flushable and can cause a pretty good obstruction if the conditions are just right.
- Dental floss: Don’t do it. Dental floss is not biodegradable, and you’d be surprised at how fast daily floss thrown into the toilet can bunch up and cause a huge and expensive obstruction in your pipes.
- Feminine pads: It goes without saying that pads (or even pantiliners) are way too big to flush down the commode.
- Food: Yes, we’re thinking the same thing. People have food in the bathroom. Yes, yes, they do. We don’t know why, but we see food clogging up toilets more frequently than we’d like to admit. Just don’t.
- Hair: You’re cleaning out your hairbrush and the toilet seems handier for disposing of that hairball than the trash can. Bad mistake. Hair is always a major clog causer. Put it in the trash where it goes.
- Paper towels: Yes, they’re similar to toilet tissue, which is fine to flush, but they’re much thicker and much bigger, so they can cause clogs and blockages if the right set of circumstances occur in your pipework.
- Tampons: Tampons and their applicators should never be flushed down the toilet. The applicator can become a fast obstruction in your toilet’s lines, and although the tampon itself may pose no issue to you personally, it can cause problems in the sewer. Municipalities have to screen out tampons and haul them away because they don’t break down easily and they’re designed to hold liquid. Just skip the possible problems and throw both in the trash instead.
- Wipes, including baby wipes: Even the flushable-type wipes are problematic for your plumbing system, not to mention they are costing city sewer systems millions of dollars when they’re forced to filter out the influx of these convenient and popular cleansing cloths.
So, What Can You Flush?
A good rule of thumb to follow when determining what is and is not flushable is the Three Ps Rule—paper, poop, and pee. Nothing more, nothing less. The toilet is not a trash can, and anything that falls outside the Three Ps Rule is not fair game and needs to be disposed of elsewhere.
Toilet giving you problems? Need us to fish a baby diaper or uneaten chicken dinner out for you? Reach out to bluefrog Plumbing + Drain of San Antonio, TX, to get plumbing services that are leaps and bounds above the rest.