In our experience, many homeowners assume the toilet can be used as some sort of custom trash disposal; you wouldn’t believe the things we have cleared from septic systems!
We understand that it’s tempting to flush nearly anything down the toilet— out of sight, out of mind. Throwing caution to the wind is not a smart approach, however, as you run the risk of damaging septic tanks and city wastewater treatment centers, as well as contributing to toxic environmental pollution.
Most people don’t think about it until they have a massive clog or septic tank problems that require maintenance. Here are some of the most commonly flushed items that you should really avoid flushing if you have a septic system.
1. Feminine Products
Tampons, pads, sanitary napkins, and other feminine products are some of the most common items flushed down a toilet. However, your septic tank is not designed to break these items down, leaving them sitting in your septic tank, eventually leading to clogs
2. Wet Wipes
Adult baby wipes are becoming increasingly popular each year, however, they often clog and backup sewage pipes. Some popular brands may argue that their wipes are flushable, promoting this convenience on their packaging. However, just because the wipes can pass through your toilet doesn’t mean your septic tank is equipped to break them down. If you use wet wipes, you should throw them in the trash to avoid clogging and other problems.
We understand that there is human waste inside, but that doesn’t mean that diapers should be flushed. Diapers are created to expand in water. In the unlikely case you actually get the diaper to flush, it will likely get caught in the U-bend of the pipe.
4. Dental Floss
Dental floss is so small that you might think it’s fine to just dump it down your toilet. However, dental floss doesn’t break down, meaning that one little strand you flush every day can add up to a big problem. Dental floss can lead to serious clogs and even environmental damage if it ends up in your septic tank, wrapping around hair, toilet paper, and whatever else is in your tank.
5. Q-Tips and Cotton Balls
These items, much like the others we’ve covered, cannot break down over time. For this reason, these items can clog your septic system, which can lead to backups. Additionally, these items will soak up the liquids in your tank, which can lead to an overworked system and more frequent necessary pumping.
6. Cat Poop
When cat poop sits in the litter box, it dries out, essentially becoming petrified poop. When the poop dries out, it can create clogs in your plumbing. Septic systems operate on a delicate balance of microbes that is designed to break down human waste. Cat poop will add different microbes that the septic tank is not designed to handle. Cat waste often contains a bad parasite called Toxoplasma, which can cause serious health problems to humans. Because septic systems and wastewater treatment systems are not designed to handle this parasite, they will not remove it from the water. The polluted water will then be released back into the environment, potentially harming humans as well as local wildlife.
7. Cat Litter
Most cat litters are made of bentonite clay, which hardens when it gets wet. When this cat litter gets wit, it can create a cement-like consistency, which can solidify in your pipes if flushed down the toilet. When this substance hardens in your pipes, it can lead to clogs or blockages. Even “flushable” litter is not flushable if you have a septic system, as it can still clump up and clog your pipes. It will also affect the balance of bacteria in your septic system, making it harder to break down waste.
If pills or other medication expires, or if you’re done with a prescription before the medication is finished, don’t flush it down your toilet. These medications can impact the balance of bacteria in your tank, which can make your septic system unable to break down waste. Additionally, releasing medications into your septic system can result in them seeping into the groundwater, which can be unhealthy for people and can damage the environment.
9. Cooking Grease
Yes, some homeowners find it acceptable to pour grease into the toilet. To be clear, grease should never be poured down any drain. Although it has roughly the same appearance as a liquid that could be dumped down a drain, when it cools, it will congeal and clog up your pipes. We advise that you collect grease in a glass jar and throw it away in the trash.
10. Cigarette Butts
Smokers do not want to throw cigarette butts in the trash, as they could cause a fire. For this reason, some smokers turn to the toilet, because it’s filled with water and will carry the butts out of site. However, cigarette butts can be very damaging to the bacteria balance in your tank. They can also contaminate your groundwater, making it unsafe to drink and unhealthy for plants and animals.
What Can You Flush?
The only things that you should flush are poop, urine, and toilet paper. Unfortunately, even the thick and plush toilet paper (the only comfortable kind!) can sometimes be difficult to breakdown. To avoid clogging the drain, a courtesy flush is sometimes necessary. Be sure to be conservative with your toilet paper use. Don't assume that you are saving water or money but stuffing as much waste into the toilet as you can before flushing. In the end, having a drain specialist drive to your house to fix an expensive repair is no fun.
ADB Septic | Septic System Maintenance in CT
If you do accidentally flush something you shouldn’t, we’re here to help. A.D.B. Construction & Septic Corp. is a septic services business in Manchester, CT. We proudly serve residential and commercial customers all over Hartford County and beyond with a full slate of services. With over 20 years of experience, we have completed countless projects of all scopes and sizes. Needless to say, there is nothing we can’t do when it comes to septic tanks, sewer systems, drains, and more.
If you have held off on getting your septic system pumped due to cost, don’t wait any longer. Call ADB Septic for a free estimate to discover how much it will cost to get your septic system back in tip-top shape.