What Not to Flush
Drains exist out of sight in the walls of our houses and underground, but just because we can’t see them doesn’t mean we should forget about them. It is easily done given that when they are clear and free flowing we don’t give them much thought, but when a blockage occurs, suddenly they are all we can think about!
At Metro Services Group (Oxon & West Bucks) we deal with emergency blocked drains every day, but we want to help you to keep your drains healthy and happy so that you don’t have to worry about them. One of the simplest ways to prevent blockages in your drains is by minding what you flush. It’s easy to remember the list of what you can flush down a toilet:
• human waste
• toilet paper
The list of what not to flush is much greater and includes, but is not limited to:
• wet wipes
• paper hand towel
• sanitary products
Any of those items (and more) cause thousands of blockages each year and many of which we have recovered from drains up and down Oxfordshire, West Buckinghamshire and East Gloucestershire.
Toilet paper is designed to break up once submerged in water, which is what happens to it once it is flushed down a toilet. The paper breaks up and disintegrates and tears easily if a larger piece gets caught on anything found in a drain (such as tree roots, but we’ll talk about those in another article). Even the luxurious quilted paper is still just thin layers of easily broken up paper lain together. You can run into trouble by flushing too much paper all at once, especially if the fall on the waste pipe behind the toilet isn’t steep enough, but on the whole you can flush toilet paper safe in the knowledge that your drains will be able to handle it.
Wet wipes and paper towels, on the other hand, are cleverly designed to stay in shape when coping with water. Otherwise the wet wipes would be unfit for purpose, breaking down in their packaging before use. Equally the paper towels, often used to absorb spills or to dry wet hands, would be of little use.
Nappies and sanitary products are designed to absorb large quantities of fluid. Quite often these days’ nappies in particular boast the ability to keep babies bottoms dry for up to 12 hours; they certainly won’t be bothered by the water in a drain! And while they might be wrapped up small in order to allow them to navigate the toilets u-bend, once the sticky tabs have lost their stick and the nappy has started absorbing more water the nappy will expand, possibly creating a blockage in a manhole. Equally sanitary products will only cause harm to the flow of the drains if flushed.
Put simply, if you want to avoid causing problems with drains at home or out and about, don’t flush anything that isn’t on the first list above. Use appropriate bins for all other items.