In case you need a reason to take drain clogs seriously: read about fatbergs – then have a look below and consider a new plumbing installation contractor such as Triton Plumbing & Service to get your drains cleaned up.
What Is A Fatberg?
A fatberg is a lump of congealed stuff people pour down their drains when they aren’t supposed to.
It’s just like an iceberg, except it’s largely made of fat.
And these things are absolutely disgusting.
Back in 2017, a fatberg showed in in London England – you know, the other London – that blocked a section of their sewage network.
This thing was enormous – it weighed in at 130 tons – the same as 19 African elephants.
You can read more about it here if you like.
Why did this happen?
Part of the blame can fall on London’s aging sewage systems, but a big part of it is because people are sending stuff they shouldn’t be down the drain.
If we want to avoid ending up with some horrendous fatbergs in our own London, here’s a list of things you should never send down your drains.
Hair is a huge problem because it knots and gets caught up and around other objects in your drain.
Often you can pull it from around the drain to remove it, but occasionally it ends up causing the same blockage further down where you can’t get to it.
A couple of ideas to avoid hair blockages are to brush long hair before getting in the shower, and also getting a wire mesh screen to trap hair before it gets down the drain.
2. Baby Wipes
Baby wipes are meant to hold up under duress, as you’re relieved to hear while cleaning up a soiled bum, but that’s precisely what makes them inappropriate for dumping down the toilet.
Toilet paper is designed to break down easily and quickly; wipes – and some very high-end, 4-ply toilet paper – tend to stick together and clump, attaching to anything they come across in your drains.
Rather than put them down the toilet, invest in a ‘diaper genie’ or another airtight garbage bin, and save yourself dealing with that clog.
Fat is one of the worst things you can put down your sink – it may be in liquid state when you’re washing your dishes and pans in hot, soapy water, but it quickly turns to its solid form when it’s down in the pipes.
Fat will coat the inside of your plumbing and catch pieces of food and debris, slowly building until they’re like cholesterol-clogged arteries.
We recommend saving that delicious bacon fat in the fridge for future use, but any fat or grease leftovers should be scraped and poured into a cleaned-out can or jar for disposal with your garbage.
4. Food Scraps
Small food scraps might seem harmless, but not so – they are a perfect example of death by a thousand cuts.
If too much ends up down your sink in quick succession, it can cause a tangled mess of a block that you’ll have to work hard to break up.
What surprises people most is how much water your food can absorb, especially porous carbs such as pasta and bread.
Installing a screen over your drain is a simple way to avoid too much getting down the sink and into your sink drain u-trap.
5. Coffee Grinds
Coffee grinds might seem tiny like grains of sand, easily washed away by the flow of water – but they are common culprits in drain clogs because of how small they are.
They often get stuck in the fat that lines dirty drains, or get caught up in soggy bread crumbs, adding weight and bulk to pre-exiting partial blocks.
They also tend to get caught in the bends and corners of pipes, and can build up and prevent easy water flow down to the sewer system, and backing up your sink drain.
6. Cat Litter
Nowadays, most cat litter clumps for ease of cleanup – but it will clump whenever it is exposed to any kind of liquid, not just cat urine.
Therefore, it should be no surprise that if you put it down the sink, and then run it, it will clog into a ball and stop your drain working.
Even if the package says “flushable” on it, don’t flush it.
It might technically be flushable in the same way that you can flush a ping pong ball, but it’s not a good idea to flush either.
This often happens by accident, because your pets will leave the litter box and track the litter into the sink or tub, so the best way to avoid this is to brush out the sink or tub before using it, to avoid a cat litter clump.
7. Cotton Balls
Cotton balls can be trouble, because they catch on everything and trap things passing through, similar to hair.
Q-tips that have cotton buds on each end can cause similar problems, and the sticks can also get caught in drain crevices and really jam things up.
Rather than toss your cotton balls or Q-tips in the toilet, toss them in the garbage, where they don’t cause problematic backup issues later.
8. Dental Floss
While it may seem too small to make a difference, tossing dental floss in the toilet can exacerbate problems that already exist.
Dental floss is made of nylon – or perhaps Teflon – and is not biodegradable, which means that it can hang around and cause trouble until it is physically removed.
You can imagine how the persistent problem of dental floss – coupled with hair, fat and Q-tips – can lead to a hugely massive blockage that could easily be avoided by tossing all these items in the trash, instead.
9. Feminine Hygiene Products
Feminine hygiene products are designed to hold liquids – similar to pasta (mentioned above), they will swell and block drains rather than flow through and disintegrate.
Whether big or small, these products play havoc with drainage, and you will most likely have to unclog this problem yourself, or pay to have a plumber come in and remove the problem for you.
Feminine hygiene products don’t disintegrate quickly enough to able to go down the toilet, which is why you should toss them in the bin, instead.
We know you just want to dispose of condoms as easily and privately as possible, but condoms down the drain also caused a crisis at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, because flushing them down the toilet leads to what the media calls “Johnnybergs”.
The biggest problem with condoms is that they don’t degrade in water, and can get caught up in blockages and can compound whatever blockage they come across.
Once again, your best bet is to throw your used condoms in the garbage, not the toilet.
Contact Triton Plumbing & Service
Think about the items discussed in this article, and how you currently dispose of them, currently; if you’re a culprit of conveniently flushing away any of these down your drain or toilet, consider how you might get rid of them, going forward.
We know that many people haven’t had a chance to educate themselves fully on recycling, disposal and garbage issues, which is why we want to ensure that our customers know what should and shouldn’t be flushed down the drain.
If you have resorted to any of these measures in the past, don’t worry – you’ve probably come out the other side in one piece.
However, if you’ve seen some backflow or backup of your drainage, give us a call – we are experts in diagnosing and dealing with issues such as these.
Triton Plumbing & Service is a local leader in dealing with home drainage and new plumbing installation, and we can happily give you a diagnostic on the state of your drains; call us now to schedule your drain cleanup.