As a homeowner, you know that dumping litter in inappropriate places is illegal and could causer serious ramifications. Similarly, improper dumping of a particular material in your sink may not be unlawful but will cost you in the long run. Most clogged pipes and drains result from dumping material that should not be there in the first place. Items such as coffee grounds are common to find in drains. Most homeowners would overlook these items due to size.
Why Shouldn’t Certain Things Go Down The Sink?
All waste in the sink finds its way either to a treatment center or directly deposited to the environment. Either way, such waste poses a threat to the natural environment in the following ways: Most material will not readily dissolve or exit the drains leading to a clog in your pipe. A clogged-up pipe will result in unexpected repair costs. Besides, some materials such as plastic are toxic to the environment. They tend to not quickly disintegrate, adding to the global burden of pollution when improperly disposed of. Disposal of toxic material such as chemicals may accumulate in the drain pipes, resulting in their corrosion or wearing out.
Eventually, your plumbing will leak and destroy your property or consequently harm the environment. These are some of the short-term effects of improper disposal of materials such as coffee grounds down your drain. If you are environmentally conscious, you should steer away from carelessly dumping garbage down your drain. Dumping all your food material down the sink may be faster, but it is more accessible and environmentally friendly when you toss it in the garbage.
What Materials Should Never Go Down The Sink?
When it comes to the health of your drains and plumbing, careful consideration has to be put in when dumping materials inside your sink. Below is a list of items you should keep out of your sink.
Rice Will Swell Up in Your Drain
It is typical for a few grains of rice to fall down the sink when washing. As a homeowner, you may overlook this, citing the size of the grains of rice being too small to create a harmful effect on your sink—quite the contrary. Rice expands when it is cooked or comes into contact with water. Having rice grains in your drains means the rice will expand, be soggy and create a sticky situation in your drain that will require unclogging by professional plumbers.
To avoid this situation, you can use sieves when washing your rice to prevent the grins from falling into the sink. In addition, if you have some leftover rice on your plate, you can pack it in a container and store it in the fridge.
Pasta Will Coat Your Disposal Blades
Similar to rice grains, pasta expands when exposed to either hot or cold water. Every drainpipe has a specific width dimension appropriate for draining water. Accumulation of pasta remnants in your drains will result in the pipes clogging. The underlying reason behind the clogging of the pipes is semolina. Pasta is made of semolina flour that ends up being sticky and soggy when exposed to moisture.
Coffee Grounds Are a No for Drains
Dumping coffee down a kitchen drain may seem harmless, but the coffee grounds at the bottom of the cup will do more harm than good for your drains. Coffee grounds will not disintegrate in drain pipes. Instead, they will end up accumulating, resulting in a clog of your pipes. Plumbers rank coffee grounds as the most notorious materials that cause the clogging of kitchen sinks. To prevent this, you can separate the coffee grounds from the coffee using a sieve. After that, you can dispose of them in the garbage or use them on plants that require an acidic condition, such as roses, azaleas, evergreens, or lilies.
Keep Cooking Oil Out of Your Drains
When you’re done using your cooking oil, instead of dumping it down the drain, you can recycle it through cooking or for lubrication for moving parts. Unfortunately, cooking oil is a notorious material that clogs drains and pipes through solidifying when exposed to cold water.
Egg Shells Will Stick to Your Drains
An egg may seem easy to crack; however, down the drain; it may seem like an impossible idea to crack or break down. It is common to crack an egg and temporarily place the eggshells in the kitchen sink of disposal. However, pieces of the eggshells may find their way into the kitchen drains. Most plumbers will attest that eggshells are common culprits causing the clogging up of drains, especially when mixed with water. The shells have a standard way of forming granular waste that adds up with other waste resulting in a significant clog in your kitchen pipes.
To prevent this, dispose of your eggshells in the trash or on compost.
Can Medicine Go Down the Drain?
If you happen to have medicine that you no longer use, a convenient and safe way most people would prefer to dispose of it is by disposing it down the drain. Unfortunately, while this action may seem safe by keeping expired medicine away from human consumption, it may result in more harm for your drains. The United States Geological Survey estimates that approximately 4000 varieties of prescription medication are dumped in drains, affecting the quality of soil and groundwater.
In addition, most medicines contain chemical and biological makeup that may result in bioaccumulation, harming living things around that environment when introduced into the environment. An ideal way of disposing of residue medicine is through returning them to specific local pharmacies for appropriate disposal.
Is Flour Good for Your Drain?
If you are an avid baker, you are probably aware of how flour becomes sticky when mixed with water. But, poring flour down your drain will result in the build-up of clumps that will eventually clog your drain. When baking near your kitchen sink, it may be challenging to control spillover into your sink. An ideal way of preventing this is by setting up your baking on a different counter. Also, ensure you wipe off all the flour from the kitchen utensils before putting them inside the sink.
It may be tempting to immediately rinse your pan after frying steak, sausages, or bacon. However, similar to cooking fat, this fat tends to solidify as it moves down the drain and will eventually clog your pipes. It can also attract other waste and debris, resulting in a block that will require a professional plumber to remedy. Instead of rinsing it down the sink, use a paper towel to clean out the residual fat and dispose of the paper towel in the trash. You can also recycle the grease by frying vegetables that absorb the fat, reducing the need to dump it down the sink.
Bones Will Damage your Drains
You may think having a garbage disposal system gives you the leeway of disposing of any material down your kitchen sink. But, unfortunately, even the most robust disposal blades will not be a match for any bone. The garbage disposal may crush small bones such as fishbone, but more significant pieces such as chicken bones may not flush down the drain entirely. The bones will end up clogging your drain, affecting the flow of water in your pipes. Bones may also end up trapping debris that, over time, will build up in your pipes. More so, due to their sharp edges, bones can damage the internal construct of your pipes.
Grains and Small Seeds
Similar to rice, grains and tiny seeds such as chia seeds can end up affecting the flow of water in your drain. When exposed to moisture, the grains swell, ending up creating a plumbing nightmare for your pipes. With residual seeds, you have the option of either tossing them in the trash can or feeding the seeds to birds.
Carving pumpkins during Halloween is always a fun-filled activity. Cleaning up, on the other hand, is not. Dumping the orange mess down your kitchen sinks will result in a clog. The gunk is thick and may not easily break down. However, it may end up clamping onto your garbage disposal system, which may warrant a replacement. The ideal way of disposing of pumpkin waste is through a recycling center or making a compost heap for your garden.
Can Oil Go Down the Drain?
It is illegal to dump used oil carelessly in the environment. Dumping your used motor oil counts as an unlawful activity as well. This is because the oil eventually ends up in the environment affecting marine life. The presence of oil in water creates a thick blanket over the water surface affecting marine life in the following ways:
Since motor oil is denser than water, it prevents the penetration of sunlight rays. Sunlight is essential to marine life since it helps in photosynthesis, which provides food to aquatic life. Oil may cause stunted growth in marine life with other complications such as fin erosion or enlarged livers. An effective way of disposing of used motor oil without harming the environment is by recycling or disposing it to a waste center.
A good paint job around your home can revamp its look and improve its aesthetic appeal. However, dumping leftover paint down your sink will clog drains. When left to dry, the paint will solidify, making it easy to dispose of in a trash can. However, paint is a highly flammable substance with toxic fumes that will linger on your pipes. Running water down a pipe with paint will release the chemicals found in paint, eventually affecting marine life. Some areas are pretty strict with the disposal of hazardous substances in drains that it is illegal to dump water used to rinse water-based paintbrushes. An alternative option of disposal is through a local recycling center or hazardous waste facilities.
A popular household cleaning product that appears harmless when put down the drain can quickly turn harmful, affecting your health. For example, if you frequently clean your drain pipes with ammonia-containing cleaning products, pouring bleach down your drains will produce chloramine gas that irritates when inhaling. Standard products containing ammonia include drain cleaners, dishwashing detergents, and window cleaners.
Keep Condoms Away from Your Drain
Condoms are made of latex material which means they do not quickly disintegrate in the environment or when exposed to water. Therefore, the only proper way to dispose of them is to throw them in the trash. Condoms will spend their entire life in the sewer and later end up in the sea, choking marine life. More so, condoms carelessly disposed of are not a sight to see. Ensure you properly place them in a garbage can and not your drains. If it is an attempt to hide evidence, your clogged drains will eventually sell you out.
Can Flushable Wipes and Paper Towels Go Down the Drain?
Despite branding these wipes as flushable, they are a nuisance to water treatment systems and your drains as well. It is advisable to dispose of flushable tissues in a trash can properly.
Paper towels are similar to tissue paper, which makes most people believe that they will easily pass down the drain as toilet paper does—quite the contrary. Despite paper towels being biodegradable, the absorbency property of paper towels affects the flow of water, eventually clogging your drain pipes. An ideal way of disposal is through recycling or doing away with paper towels and using kitchen cloth towels instead.
What About Cotton Balls?
Similar to paper towels, cotton balls bear a high absorbent property that can clog your pipes. In addition, when cotton balls come into water contact, they expand, creating a barrier for debris to flow out of your drain pipes.
Sanitary Towels Will Cause a Block in Your Drains
Sanitary towels are made up of cotton due to their high absorbent property. Due to this, disposal of sanitary towels down drains will lead to clogging drains. You can create or purchase a sanitary disposal bin for your home, similar to in public facilities. Not only will this help your drains, but it is also hygienic since sanitary towels contain bodily fluids.
Avoid the disposal of pesticides or any other household chemicals you possess down the drain. These chemicals contain toxic elements that harm marine life. You can dispose of such waste at your local Hazardous Household Waste collection center.
Despite certain brands claiming that their litter is flushable, kitty litter is made of absorbent material. Unfortunately, this means that when exposed to water, the litter swells up, clogging your drains. More so, cat feces and litter contain toxins and chemicals capable of harming marine life once it gets to the sea. Instead of using cat litter, you can embrace eco-friendly materials such as wood shavings or old newspapers. You can then throw away the entire bundle in a trash can. Safe for your drains and safe for the environment too.
When washing your fruits or vegetables, it is advisable to dispose of the produce stickers in a trash can. The stickers may appear to be small amounts of waste; however, the stickers do not decompose, and their accumulation can result in a clog in your drain pipes. It is the same case when composting; it is advisable to peel them off first. The stickers are made from either plastic or vinyl. Therefore, having produce stickers in your compost heap may not be healthy for your garden.
Another common nuisance found in clogged drains is hair. When brushing your hair, it is common to throw away the loose hair down the drain. Accumulation of hair in your shower drains can result in a clog which is not a sight to see. An alternative would be using a skin hair catcher that traps your loose hair, which you can later throw away in a trash can. You can also brush your hair before or after a shower to prevent loose hair from finding its way down the drain.
Can a Clogged Pipe Occur From These Materials?
Evidently, when these materials find their way into your drains, they will lead to a clog that will create a nuisance. It is essential to appropriately dispose of the materials listed in a trash can or waste recycling centers.
Can Pipe Damage Occur Due to Certain Materials Going Down the Sink?
Yes, disposal of the above-listed material down your drain will result in your pipes damaging. This can take place in the following ways:
- Create a clog in your drains
- Sharp objects will result in wear or tear, resulting in leaks
It is crucial to keep out such materials from your drains to promote the sound construction of your pipes.
Can You Fix a Damaged Pipe on Your Own?
The answer is yes. You can employ plenty of options when unclogging your drain; however, it depends on the type of plumbing your home has. Therefore, to avoid damaging your plumbing, it is best to try out the gentle solutions first.
Use a Bent Wire
Using a coat hanger, you can try to fish out residue blocking your drains, affecting water supply down the drain. A coat hanger is an inexpensive way of unclogging your drain and does not require any form of expertise. Straighten out a coat hanger and create a hook at one end. Use this end to try and fish out waste matter. Avoid pushing the waste down as this will only cause a blockage further down, making it inaccessible for you. You can also try to clear the waste by gently prodding it to break down the waste bundle.
Use Dish Detergent
Dish detergent is an effective solution for clogged pipes since it lubricates the drain pipes and breaks down the waste. You can pour a handful of dish detergent down your drain, followed by a run of hot water. This mixture will aid in the loosening up of clumped waste. You can then use a plunger to push the loose residual waste down the drain.
Vinegar and Baking Soda
Mixing baking soda and vinegar creates a fizz that can wipe out mild clogs in your drain. The first step is to pour hot water down your sink, then add a handful of baking soda.
Afterward, add another cup of hot water and subsequently add a handful of vinegar. Allow the mixture to settle for an hour or two as it works its magic. After a while, you can pour hot water down the drain to clear the residue and monitor whether the clog has cleared.
If the baking soda and vinegar fail to work, you can use washing soda instead. Commonly known as sodium bicarbonate, washing soda is highly effective in clearing out blockages from drains. It is more potent as a drain cleaner compared to baking soda due to its alkaline properties.
Although a mild option for unclogging drains, Coke can equally clear build-up debris in your drains. It is a common item to find in a refrigerator, hence being an inexpensive way of unclogging your drains. Getting a 2-liter of Coke and pouring it down the drain will drain away your mild clog. Run hot water afterward to clear the coke residue and to check if the clog has cleared. While it is recommended to use Coke for blockages that are hard to get rid of. However, it leaves behind a stream of sticky syrup due to its sugary content, which can pile up your clogging issues. It is more effective to use on advanced blockages, as opposed to minor blockages.
Wet and Dry Vacuum
This type of vacuum is effective in cleaning dust, dirt, and liquids from your drain. A wet or dry vacuum has a high suction capacity, capable of sucking out the debris.
Before using a wet or dry vacuum, ensure you cover the plughole first to prevent having a messy situation. If you are unsure how to use this, you can contact a reputable plumber for assistance.
It is common for most households to have a plunger. Plungers are an ideal solution for unclogging small drains. Plungers are the manual alternative to wet/dry vacuums and work under the similar principle of suction.
How Much Does It Cost to Fix a Damaged Pipe?
If the above options fail, you should consider contacting professional plumbers to fix your pipes. The cost varies by the type of plumbing system your home has and the materials.
The national average for fixing a broken pipe is $3,000 to $5,000. Depending on the severity, this cost can shoot up to $10,000.To keep your drains in good condition, take note of the things you should not put down the sink, such as coffee grounds. At Atomic Plumbing and Drain cleaning, we provide plumbing and drain cleaning services. Check out our services page for more information about the packages we offer.