Most plumbing issues are caused by the disposal of items that are deemed biodegradable down drains or through the toilet. Although most items that say they are flushable or biodegradable break down overtime, they don’t break down right away and can cause your drains to get clogged. If the items make it past your drains, they can get into the water supply and meddle with the equipment used to treat the water or leak back into the water supply and mix with the chemicals used to treat the water. The three things that you should never put down your drain are grease/fats/oils, household fluids and medications.
Grease fats and oils do not mix with water and can often clog drains when mixed with other debris such as cotton balls or coffee grinds. This is especially true for bacon grease. Bacon grease hardens when it is cool, and when it is mixed with small bits like egg shells, it can slow the flow of your water and even clog the drains. When grease, fats and oils are combined, they are a plumbing nightmare. The three substances are so thick that they act as a binder for other biodegradable materials to clog pipes until nothing can pass through them. These substances cause 47 percent of the sewer overflows that happen in the US annually. Using home drain cleaners can do more damage than good when used incorrectly. If your drains are clogged, use a professional plumber such as The Plumbing Doc to fix the problem.
Household fluids such as cleaners, car fluids and even paint should never be poured down the drain. When these fluids are poured down the drain, they are mixed with the water supply. To avoid this from occurring, use all natural cleaners such as vinegar and lemon to clean your home or all natural cleaners from a retailer. To dispose of car fluids, check with your local auto parts retailer or the information line for your county for disposal instructions. Some retailers will dispose of oil for you if you bring it into their establishment.
Paint is especially toxic and has been known to release an abundance of chemicals into the water supply. It is not even advisable to wash your paint brushes in the sink for fear of the chemical implications in the water. Some cities have ordered that paint be disposed of in hazardous waste facilities because the repercussions of the paint entering the water supply is such an epidemic. Always check with your local city regulations before disposing of paint through your drainage system.
In the past, we were told to dispose of leftover medication by flushing it down the toilet. This was done so that animals picking through the garbage or even small children can’t be harmed by the medications. This practice resulted in various medications entering our water supply. Medication take-back programs are available for those who feel it is not safe to dispose of their medications in the garbage. The FDA has a list of medications that are approved for flushing if no other options are available.
It seems almost instinctive to flush unwanted items down the toilet. But not all items dissolve right away, and it is not advisable to flush any grease/fats/oils, household fluids or medication down your pipes. Water treatment involves chemicals, and when the chemicals react to other substances, it can be a cause for concern. If you wouldn’t cook with it or drink it, do you really want it in your water supply?