What Should Not Go “Down the Drain”

Village of Hines Creek Sewer-What is Flushable?

While sewer backups can occur for a number of reasons, there are many ways a homeowner can reduce their risk. One very important way is to know what is and isn’t acceptable to flush down a toilet or pour down a drain. If it doesn’t dissolve immediately in a bowl, it has no place in the sewer. The exception, of course, is toilet paper. Residents are reminded that if a product claims to be “disposable”, it does not mean it is “flushable”. Product packaging clearly indicates disposal into a trashcan. Also, items claiming to be “biodegradable” do not necessarily break down well enough to be put into a sewer system. Items which are disposed of down the sewer, and do not break down can get caught in the screens on the lift station pumps, resulting in extra labour for the public works staff, or items damaging the pumps at the lift station creating extra costs for tax payers.

Here are some things that definitely should not go into the sewer system.

Fats, Oils, and Grease – Any and all cooking oils, grease, fats and other similar products should not be poured down the drain! While they may be liquid while being poured, they will very soon cool down and solidify, and this usually happens somewhere within your own plumbing, or your own sewer lateral. While it may seem to make sense that flushing it down with hot water will help, it doesn’t – it might just make it a bit further down the drain before it solidifies and plugs up your own plumbing, or the municipal sewer system.

Feminine Hygiene Products – Feminine hygiene products generally do not breakdown quickly and tend to plug up pipes and cause problems for sewage pumps located within the municipal sewage collection system. Even if the packaging claims they are biodegradable, that doesn’t mean they are suitable for toilet flushing! Disposal should be in the garbage, even if the packaging suggests otherwise.

Paper Products – The only paper product suitable for flushing is toilet paper. Other paper products, like facial tissues, paper towel, newspaper, cardboard, and wipes of any kind are simply not suitable for flushing.

Wipes – There are many different kinds of wipes available today, including baby wipes, feminine hygiene wipes, and antibacterial wipes. Generally, these do not degrade quickly and will cause blockages in the sewer system. Many of them have packaging that claims they are biodegradable, or even flushable, but they are not. Wipes are better off in the garbage.
Hair – Large masses of hair from haircuts or cutting a pet’s fur often stay clumped together and do not break apart into loose materials quickly. Large masses of hair are sometimes found in lift station pumps and stuck in sewer mains. Hair should be thrown in the garbage.

Dental Floss – While it might seem insignificant, dental floss in the sewer system creates a risk, mainly at municipal pump stations. It is usually a fairly tough and tear-resistant product that gets caught up in pump impellers. Used dental floss should be disposed of in the garbage.

Food scraps and “garburators” – Food scraps and grinds that make their way into the sanitary sewer put additional stress on the treatment process and also add solids to the sanitary sewage stream that compromise the flow in the sewers.

Pharmaceuticals – Pharmaceuticals are an increasing problem, they should not be put into the sewage system. These items can be brought to local pharmacies for disposal.


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