Plumber Tips: Why You Shouldn’t Flush Sanitary Items Down Your Toilet | Chattanooga, TN

Plumber-Tips--Why-You-Shouldnt-Flush-Sanitary-Items-Down-Your-Toilet-_-Chattanooga,-TN
Photo By New Africa at Shutterstock

Many women are confused about which sanitary products can be flushed and which can’t. Although some products will say on the packet that they are flushable, it’s best to avoid flushing feminine products down the toilet.

Products such as tampons, pads, or wipes that claim to be flush-friendly can cause clogs in your toilet and, in the worst cases, can cause your toilet to back up and overflow or will create issues with your septic tank. Plumbers are called out daily due to toilets that are clogged with feminine products.

If you live in Chattanooga, TN, or the surrounding area and are searching for a plumber, don’t hesitate to contact Metro Plumbing, Heating & Air. The company is available to unblock toilets and can carry out general plumbing maintenance and repairs. They can also provide an emergency plumber.

Be warned, ladies, don’t flush sanitary items; it could be a costly mistake. This article will tell you how feminine items can damage your plumbing system. We’ll also look at some of the other things that are commonly flushed but shouldn’t be.

How Sanitary Products Can Damage the Plumbing System

You’ll likely have noticed signs in ladies’ toilets asking you not to put your feminine products down the toilet. While these signs are common in public restrooms, it’s also a good idea to follow this advice at home. Tampons and other sanitary items shouldn’t be put down the toilet for several reasons. Let’s look at each of these reasons in turn.

After a tampon has been flushed, its size can increase as it absorbs water. You may be surprised to find that a tampon will grow to approximately ten times its original size once it’s absorbed water. Once the tampons have expanded, they can clog the toilet or get caught up further down the plumbing system, blocking sewers and drains. Older septic systems are more likely to be affected because tree roots may have started growing into the pipes, and tampons can become caught on these and will create a blockage.

Non-bio-degradable

Another common myth is that tampons can be flushed as they will disintegrate in the plumbing system. The truth is that unlike toilet paper, which breaks up, tampons will remain in a solid lump rather than breaking down. If a tampon gets caught on the way through the plumbing system, it won’t dissolve but will create a blockage. If more tampons are flushed, your toilet could completely block and overflow. You’ll then need to call in a plumber in Chattanooga, TN to clear the obstruction.

Sometimes tampons or pads will manage to move through your plumbing system; however, they could create a blockage on the way to the mains sewer. If you don’t have your own septic tank, your waste will travel down the sewage lines, and if a blockage is created further down the line, your neighbors may be affected by the clog.

Sewage treatment plant issues

Many tampons do manage to travel all the way to the city’s sewage treatment plant. They may then affect the pumping station or clog the filters. Sewage treatment plants break down items that shouldn’t have been flushed using chemicals. They also have a filter system to trap non-degradable products. These measures aren’t very environmentally friendly and can cause problems for employees at the plant. It’s messy, time-consuming, and expensive to remove sanitary items from the sewage. America has a 46 billion dollar bill, which is spent on the public wastewater treatment process every year. This amount could be reduced considerably if people stopped flushing sanitary items down the toilet. Once the treatment plant has removed these items, they will be sent to the landfill. If these products were thrown away in the first place, they would have gone straight to landfill rather than through the plumbing system at a great expense and the possibility of affecting the plumbing!

Septic tank problems

If you have your own septic tank, feminine items can cause a blockage. As they aren’t bio-degrade, they will also sit in the tank and take up space. This will cause the liquid levels to rise and may allow human waste to block the distribution pipes. In the long term, this could cause sewage to back up into your home, which won’t be a very nice experience. You may also notice that sewage or wastewater has started to collect around the septic tank; this indicates a blockage somewhere in your system. If the grass surrounding your tank seems waterlogged or has bright green grass growing, this is a sign of problems, and you should call in a plumber to investigate.

Other Items That Shouldn’t Be Flushed

It would help if you never put anything other than human waste and toilet paper into your toilet. You may like to make it a rule in your home to never flush anything else, even if you have a product that says it’s flushable. Some manufacturers say their items are flushable; if they are small enough to be disposed of down a drain, this doesn’t mean that they won’t cause a blockage.

Small Toys

There are many items, some weird and wonderful, that shouldn’t be flushed but that commonly end up at the public sewage treatment plant. Small toys have even be found in the sewers, which have been flushed by curious kids who want to see where their action figure can swim or wonder what will happen if they flush away a small ball. If you have children, make sure you teach them that the toilet shouldn’t be played with. Phone a plumber if your kids have accidentally flushed something they shouldn’t.

Wipes or napkins

Toilet paper has been designed to be flushed as it will disintegrate when it becomes wet enough. This will allow it to easily travel through the sewage system without creating a blockage. Other paper products such as kitchen roll, tissues, or wipes shouldn’t be flushed as these are thicker and likely to cause a blockage. Don’t flush any types of wipes, even if it says on the packet that they are flushable.

Pads and diapers

It’s also common to flush maxi pads or diapers down the toilet, but as these are large and expand when wet, it’s not a good idea. A blockage can quickly occur after flushing a few pads. Pads and diapers should be hygienically disposed of in the trash.

Personal hygiene items

Avoid flushing other personal hygiene items such as cotton balls, swabs, q tips, bandages, condoms, or dental floss. Medicine or drugs and cigarette butts are commonly flushed but shouldn’t be. Don’t allow human or pet hair to get into your plumbing system either by being flushed or being allowed to go down the drains.

Cat litter or pet poo

Don’t empty your cat litter tray or put pet poop down the toilet, or flush dead goldfish. You’ve probably heard horror stories of crocodiles being found in the sewage system. Don’t flush any unwanted animals such as fish, lizards, or land snails down the toilet.

Grease or drain cleaner

It’s also best to avoid putting fat, oil, and grease into the toilet or sink and avoid using harsh drain cleaning chemicals as these can damage your plumbing system.

What to Do if You Accidentally Flushed Something You Shouldn’t?

If you or one of your family members accidentally flushed a pad, tampon, or another item on the above list, don’t panic! It’s unlikely that there will be immediate repercussions unless you’ve been flushing sanitary items for a long time, and there’s already a blockage. You may need to call a plumber.

Keep an eye on your plumbing system

The best thing to do would be to keep an eye on how well your toilet flushes, as well as on your whole plumbing system. Look out for signs that there may be a blockage somewhere in your system. Common symptoms include drains running slowly, sluggish flushing, a bad smell or a gurgling noise in the pipes, or after you’ve flushed your toilet. Call a plumber if you notice any of these symptoms.

Drains running slowly

The first thing you’re likely to notice if there’s a blockage in your plumbing system is that the toilet or your bath, sink, and shower are draining slower than expected. If there’s a bad clog, it will be hard for the water to drain away. In some cases, water might not be able to drain away at all.

If one of your fixtures has drainage problems, it’s likely that the blockage is located in the pipe that connects that specific appliance. If you’re having issues with flushing your toilet, the blockage is likely to be in the bend behind the toilet or pipes further down the system.

However, if you’re having issues with all your plumbing features and have started to experience backed up, it’s likely the blockage is in the sewer drain. Call a plumber if you notice any blockages.

Problems with flushing

How well your toilet can flush will help determine the extent of the problem. If you flush your toilet and it causes water to back up or rise into your shower, then you have a blocked drain. This is also likely to be the case if running your taps causes the water level in your toilet to increase.

If you’re experiencing plumbing issues, you may like to check the area surrounding external drains, maintenance hole covers, and septic tanks on your property. Look out for any signs of leaks, overflow, or rising water. Only check the outside, as entering septic tanks or manholes can be very dangerous and are best left to the experts. There is also a risk of exposure to hazardous gases and bacteria if you open a septic tank, drain, or maintenance hole. Call in a plumber who has been specially trained to deal with these types of problems.

A Bad Smell

One of the worst things about having a toilet or drain issues in your home is that it can create a foul smell. This is a dead giveaway that there is a blockage somewhere in your system. It’s one of the most obvious signs that there’s a problem. When a clog has formed, it will trap other matter that tries to pass by, and it will also start to rot, creating a foul odor.

Blockages in drains and toilets can release gases back into your home. It’s common for a bad smell to be the first thing you notice, which can arise before you spot any other symptoms. Don’t ignore any bad odors in your home, as an experienced plumber can easily identify these.

Gurgling Sounds

If you’ve recently started noticing that your pipes and fixtures are making a gurgling or banging noise, this indicates a blockage. Gurgling noises when you flush the toilet or from drains and pipes shouldn’t be ignored. These are often an early warning sign. Gurgling and creaking noises are created in pipes that have trapped air caused by a blockage. Sometimes the air is being displaced or pushed through the system and creates a loud sound as it does so.

Call a plumber

If you notice any of these common problems, you’ll need to phone a plumber for advice. A plumber will be able to find and remove the blockage. Don’t ignore early warning signs such as bad smells or gurgling noises. If the problem persists or even gets worse, your toilet will likely completely block, or you may even experience back up in your shower or toilet. Backup is not only messy and smelly, but it’s also unhygienic and will require an emergency plumber service to unblock your toilet and clear up the mess. This can be costly and inconvenient for homeowners.

Metro Plumbing Heating & Air, Plumber, Chattanooga, TN

If you live in Chattanooga, TN, or the surrounding area and are searching for a plumber, don’t hesitate to contact Metro Plumbing, Heating & Air. Plumbers available to unblock toilets, clear drains, and repair septic systems. They can also carry out general plumbing maintenance and repairs and offer an emergency plumbing service. Call a plumber in Chattanooga, TN at 423-250-3502, phones are answered 24/7!