Almost 20 years ago, I became a homeowner for the first time. Like many new homeowners the thought of fixing this and painting that really excited me.

One day I decided that I needed a garbage disposal. I went to my local hardware store and purchased the largest and most powerful garbage disposal I could find. A garbage disposal with one of those ominous names like the “incinerator 10000.” I purchased the “incinerator 10000” and proceeded to install this true work of art. Over the next few months, I was so proud that the “incinerator 10000” could decimate lemons, oranges, squash, almost anything. Then the unthinkable happened, the great spaghetti incident.

After placing a large container of cold spaghetti down the” incinerator 10000,” the disposal worked perfectly. However, why was the water not draining from the sink? For the better part of that afternoon, I had the pleasure of removing all of the faucet plumbing to remove thousands of pieces of cold spaghetti that had blocked the sink plumbing. That is when the question first came to mind. How much money do people waste every year by not caring for the integrity of home and business plumbing?

Having spent my life in the water and wastewater water industry, I have seen some pretty interesting things. When it comes to items and products that are flushed or placed into the sink that end up in septic tanks, municipal wastewater mains and at the wastewater treatment plant, I will provide just a few interesting items. I have seen blankets, clothing, syringes, potato chip bags and even toys. Many people don’t realize that everything that is flushed or sent down the sink has a cause and effect.

Over the years I have compiled a list, though various sources and personal experience, of items that do not need to be disposed of in the sink drain or toilet bowl. By taking a little time and thinking about what you are placing in the drain or the toilet bowl, you can, over time, save not only the integrity of the public utility that has to process the waste but also save on future home and business plumbing costs by preventing future plumbing problems.

Although this list is not exhaustive and without further comment, the following items can and do cause harm to your home plumbing and your local municipal wastewater distribution system and wastewater treatment plant. Prohibited items are as follows:

• Paper towels

• Cosmetic wipes

• Cleaning wipes

• Baby wipes

• Flushable wipes (although they flush, they do not breakdown like normal toilet paper)

• Cotton swabs

• Cigarette butts

• Medication

• Hair

• Diapers

• Cooking grease and oil

• Paint

• Cat litter

• Chewing gum

• Bleach

• Band aids

• And as mentioned, clothing, blankets, potato chip bags and cold spaghetti

Simply, think before you flush. It could save you and your community money and help protect the health of your local environment.

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