It’s a scenario that’s all too common in households everywhere: A quick rinse of the plate, a flush of the toilet, and down goes waste that we think little about. Yet, what we dispose of down our drains can have far-reaching impacts, not just on our home’s plumbing but on the environment and municipal systems as well. With a focus on fostering a healthy home and a thriving planet, the experts here at NW Sewer and Drain want to delve into the items that should never find their way down our drains and explore the negative effects that such practices can have.


The No-Go List: What to Keep Out of Your Drains

1. Fats, Oils, and Grease (FOG)

It’s a common misconception that liquid fats, oils, and grease are harmless. When hot, they seem easily flushable, but as they cool, they solidify, clinging to the insides of pipes and creating blockages. These blockages not only pose a risk to your home’s plumbing but can also contribute to the formation of ‘fatbergs’ in municipal sewer systems, large masses that can cause significant damage and necessitate costly repairs.


2. Coffee Grounds

While seemingly innocuous, coffee grounds are a leading cause of sink blockages. Unlike most substances, they don’t break down easily and tend to accumulate, creating stubborn clogs that can be challenging to clear without professional help.


3. Eggshells

Eggshells, especially when ground up by a garbage disposal, can stick to the insides of pipes or bind with other waste to form blockages. They also contribute to the buildup of sediment in pipes, reducing their effectiveness and lifespan.


4. Medications

Flushing unused or expired medications might seem like a safe disposal method, but it introduces harmful chemicals into water systems. These substances can bypass treatment processes, polluting rivers, lakes, and even drinking water, posing risks to wildlife and human health.


5. Paper Products

Toilet paper is designed to disintegrate in water, but other paper products like paper towels, tissues, and wipes (even those labeled ‘flushable’) are not. They can quickly clog pipes and sewers, leading to backups and environmental pollution.


6. Chemical Cleaners

Harsh chemical cleaners can corrode pipes over time, leading to leaks and breaks. They also pose significant environmental hazards, contaminating waterways and harming aquatic life. Opting for eco-friendly or homemade cleaners can keep your drains clear and contribute to a healthier environment.


7. Paint

Disposing of paint through drains can clog pipes and introduce hazardous chemicals into the water supply. Proper disposal methods, such as recycling or hazardous waste facilities, are essential for handling paint waste responsibly.


8. Produce Stickers

Those small stickers on fruits and vegetables can cause big problems in water treatment facilities, where they can get caught in filters and pumps. They’re not biodegradable, making them a persistent issue in water systems.


The Ripple Effects: Negative Impacts on Homes and the Environment

For Your Home

The immediate effect of improper disposal down drains is often a clogged or damaged plumbing system. This can lead to costly repairs, water damage, and the inconvenience of a non-functional plumbing system. Over time, the cumulative effects of harsh chemicals can also degrade pipes, leading to leaks, bursts, and potentially significant water damage.


For the Environment

The environmental impact extends beyond our immediate surroundings. Contaminants like medications and chemicals can harm wildlife, disrupt ecosystems, and contribute to the pollution of water bodies. Fatbergs and other blockages in municipal systems can lead to sewage overflows, further polluting the environment and posing health risks to communities.


Embracing Better Practices

Understanding the consequences of our actions is the first step toward making better choices. By being mindful of what we dispose of down our drains, we can prevent damage to our homes, protect our waterways, and contribute to the overall health of our planet. Here are a few tips to start making a difference today:

  • Dispose of oils and grease in a container and throw it in the trash.
  • Compost coffee grounds and eggshells if possible, or dispose of them in the garbage.
  • Take medications to a pharmacy or hazardous waste facility for safe disposal.
  • Use eco-friendly cleaning products to reduce chemical runoff.
  • Throw paper products, paint, and produce stickers in the trash or recycle them properly.


NW Sewer and Drain: Your Partner in Protecting Your Home and the Environment

At NW Sewer and Drain, we understand the importance of maintaining a healthy and safe plumbing system. We’re committed to providing expert advice and services to address and prevent the issues caused by improper disposal practices. Our team is here to help with any plumbing challenges, offering solutions that are not only effective but also environmentally responsible.

By making small changes in our daily habits and choosing professionals who prioritize the health of our homes and the planet, we can all contribute to a more sustainable future. If you’re facing plumbing issues or have questions about how to care for your system, reach out to NW Sewer and Drain. Together, we can ensure that our actions today lead to a healthier, cleaner tomorrow.



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