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What’s in a Clog? 9 Things to Avoid Flushing

What's in a Clog? 9 Things to Avoid Flushing.

Imagine you’re having friends and family over for a nice relaxing evening. Suddenly a worried-looking guest comes to you from the hallway. Sewer system failure! Oh no! A clogged sewer line can be a literal party pooper, causing a variety of inter-related problems, such as:


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Toilet Clogs

These are just bad news no matter what, but especially on nights and weekends, when people most often entertain—and when most plumbers charge emergency fees.

Increased Utility Rates

Over-burdened sewer systems can result in increased expenditures for cities faced with damaged sewer systems, screens and pumps. And these costs are usually passed along to the citizens in the form of higher taxes or utility bills—or both.

Septic Backups

Backups in bathrooms, showers, and basements can be costly and, again, “ewww.”

Septic System Failure

Big expense. Big hassle. Nobody wants that.

So what can you do to ensure this scenario doesn’t happen on your watch? Assuming your sewer system is in good working order, here’s the number-one rule to remember: “If it doesn’t disintegrate in eight seconds or less, don’t flush it.”

But how do you know what disintegrates and what doesn’t? Good question. We culled this list of items that should never be flushed, from www.thinkbeforeyouflush.org.

Basically, the only thing that should be flushed is toilet paper, as underscored by a 2012 study of pump station inlet screens in Portland, Maine, which cited three major sources of clogs:

  • Non-flushable paper such as paper towels, tissues and napkins (47%)
  • Wipes (40%), including non-flushable baby and household wipes as well as those labeled “flushable”
  • Feminine hygiene products and packaging (13%)

Remember, if it doesn’t disintegrate in eight seconds or less, don’t flush it. It’s just that simple.


Continuing Education

To learn more about how wet wipes especially are harmful to sewer systems as well as the environment—and what you can do about it—read our “Wet Wipes: Seeking a Safer Alternative” blog.


Did You Know?

In a test by ConsumerReports.org, even some wipes labeled as “flushable” were shown to still be intact after 30 minutes!

What on Earth Contest

Congratulations to our “What On Earth” contest winners!

Each winner will be featured in an upcoming blog over the next few weeks.

Thank you to everyone who entered!

comment_2Do you have other suggestions to ensure our sewer systems don’t become overburdened? We’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below!

Applewood Plumbing: “Flushable” Wipes Are Not Flushable
Consumer Reports: Toilet paper
Join Think Before You Flush
Movement Blog: Wet Wipes – Seeking a Safer Alternative

Have you ever experienced a plumbing emergency?

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Jennifer Rottman
Jennifer Rottman
6 years ago

This is a great reminder for everyone. I love the reminder newsletters that come with my water bill. It gave you the cost of your tax payer money that goes into employees and equipment to fix the clogs.

6 years ago

What an attention-getting way to effect change! Thanks for sharing, Jennifer!

Gingi Freeman
Gingi Freeman
6 years ago

Great post! I love how you reinforce these points in additional blogs… <3

Dena Trone
Dena Trone
3 years ago

Dena Trone
I already knew what not to flush down the toilet. But what is tricky is those wipes that day flushable when they really are not.