Your household drains can be a convenient way of disposing of many different liquids and other items, right? Wrong. While they effectively drain water and most liquids without complaint, your household drains are not designed to carry away much more than water and diluted cleaning solutions, such as laundry detergent, dishwashing liquid, toothpaste, and mouthwash. So what are some things that are commonly flushed or poured down the drain but really shouldn't be? And what can you do instead?
In Your Kitchen
Don't put hot cooking oil, grease, or fat into your kitchen drain unless you want to pay for a plumber. As these substances make their way through your pipes, they can congeal, which over time will lead to a blockage. Even if these substances make it through your pipes while still in a liquid form, they can cause major problems for the sewage systems in your area. A London suburb came close to having wastewater (and human waste) spilling into the streets when a 15-tonne ball of congealed cooking fat was discovered in a drain. This was the result of multiple households simply pouring their cooking fats and oils into their kitchen drain.
An Alternative: Wait until the fat or oil has cooled, but not congealed. Pour it into a resealable plastic or glass jar and dispose of it with your household rubbish. Unfortunately you won't be able to recycle the container, but it's the best way to dispose of these cooking fats and oils.
In Your Laundry
Your laundry might well have the most heavy duty sink in your home, and this is where you might try to dispose of harsh cleaning solutions, solvents, pesticides and even paint. But thick liquids such as paint can block your drains, and the strong chemicals in these other liquids can cause extensive damage to local waterways. Even after passing through a water treatment plant, there can be enough corrosive chemicals present to damage local waterways, which harms the plants and animals that rely on these lifelines.
An Alternative: Contact your local council to find which dump in your area has the facilities to dispose of these dangerous chemicals. They will need to be transported to the dump in a suitably sturdy sealed container where they will be safely discarded. Do not simply dispose of these substances with your household rubbish as they might leach out into earth after dumping.
In Your Bathroom
Your bathroom sink is not generally used to dispose of anything too harsh. Any solvents that might be drained away are usually safe for humans, such as nail polish remover or makeup remover. These items do not harm your pipes or local waterways. You do however, need to be careful about what goes into your toilet. Whether it's unused prescription medication or an expired bottle of cough syrup, never flush these healthcare products away. Active ingredients in these medications can contaminate local waterways and this has adverse effects on plants, animals and marine life. Even the microscopic amounts of active ingredients that survive water treatment can cause damage.
An Alternative: Take these old medications to your local pharmacy. They are then collected and incinerated.
Have you ever been guilty of disposing of these items in your drains? By disposing of them safely, you're doing your bit to help the environment—and your drains! If you are facing problems caused by disposing of any of these things, call a professional plumber, such as Andrew Vanny Plumbing.
If I didn't know better, I'd think my toddler started each day with a challenge to throw something new and different down the toilet. He has managed to put nearly anything can imagine down the toilet. I have gotten pretty good at figuring out what has gone missing down the loo and whether it's something I can fix or something that I need to call the plumber to help me fix it. This blog is for other mums of toddlers who need to get toys out of the toilet and get the toilet back to working condition as soon as possible!