Even though there are certain things you just know you shouldn’t flush down the drain in 2021, there’s a few things we’re all guilty of tossing in – maybe because we didn’t realize it would cause any issues.
But we’re here to tell you that what you flush down the drain matters, and that flushing these “unflushables” can lead to blockages in the sanitary sewer system that can cost you a hefty plumber’s bill.
They can also cause sewage to overflow into the environment or back up into your home, and despite the fact that the Capital Regional District’s new wastewater treatment facility is now up and running, it’s still important to be mindful of what you flush.
The CRD recommends that you stick to the 3Ps when it comes to flushing: only pee, poo and toilet paper go down the toilet, and keep your sink fat-free by keeping oils and grease out of the drain.
To ensure that your pipes stay clog-free, here are the 10 things you should really, truly should avoid putting down the drain:
Unflushable #1: “Flushable” wipes
Yep, we said it. Those wipes that are labelled as “flushable”? They’re actually not, and they don’t break down in the sewage treatment system – so much so, they’re the leading cause of expensive clogs and sewer back-ups.
The same is true for wipes marked “compostable”—they can’t go in your green bin. All wipes must be disposed of in your regular household garbage.
Unflushable #2: Dental floss
Dental floss is stronger than you think, and when flushed down the toilet can cause issues within the region’s wastewater pumps, meaning increased maintenance and operating costs.
Unflushable #3: Menstrual products
This one might shock you, but menstrual products (tampons, pads, etc.) should never be flushed down the toilet. Why? Because they’re products that are meant to absorb water, not break down in it, meaning they’ll only expand when you flush them — and that’s no good for your plumbing or the regional sewer line.
Unflushable #4: Fats and grease
Each year almost one million kilograms of fats, oils and grease flow down the drains of homes throughout the capital region. These can clog pipes and treatment screens, causing backups, overflows and odour problems.
Unflushable #5: Hair
It’s inevitable that some hair will make it into the sewer line, but there are things you can do to avoid it. Human hair is hard on the CRD’s wastewater machinery and a big source of clogs in the system.
A few tips are to brush your hair out before you shower or bathe, and clean brushes into the garbage can, not the toilet or sink.
Unflushable #6: Medications
A shocking 45% of capital region residents toss old medications in the garbage or down the drain, and as it turns out, that’s not such a good idea.
Medication that goes down the drain ends up in the ocean, where it can have a negative effect on the marine environment.
But there’s a solution; you can take your medications to one of the many pharmacies that is participating in the Medications Return Program (MRP). Look up nearby return locations by using your postal code.
Unflushable #7: Condoms
This one should go without saying, but it’s a huge no-no. Condoms and other plastics are also not designed to break down in water, so flushing them can cause clogs in toilets and septic tanks.
Unflushable #8: Paper towels and tissues
Not a part of the 3Ps, paper towels are simply not designed to break down the way toilet paper does, and tissues work the same way. If you have to use either in a pinch, it’s recommended they go into the garbage – not the toilet.
Unflushable #9: Kitty litter
Though some brands of kitty litter claim to be flushable, most toilets don’t use enough water to move the litter along properly in your pipes.
Unflushable #10: Diapers
Diapers, like menstrual products, expand in water, and even though most are too big to be flushed, a friendly reminder never hurts! Diapers will expand and get caught in your pipes, and cause more trouble for everyone in the long run.