Prevent Toilet Clogs by Learning The Causes
Did you know that humans spend three months of their lifetime sitting on the toilet, and that the average person goes to the toilet about 2,500 times a year? Toilets are definitely the under-appreciated part of your home, as you tend to ignore how they work until, of course, they clog and back up!
There are many causes for clogs, but the following four are the most common.
1. Low-flush Toilets
Low-flush toilets, especially first generation models, have too little pressure to clear waste into the drains. Although these toilets are great for reducing the amount of water used, they tend to be more prone to clogging. Preventive measures include not buying super-absorbent toilet paper and not flushing an excessive amount of paper. Although it seems to defeat the purpose of having a low-flush toilet, flushing more frequently will also help keep clogs from forming.
2. Flushing Foreign Items
Of all the stories about inappropriate objects being flushed down the toilet, our own Marshall Adams of Adams and Son Plumbing, Orlando, Fla., has one for the record book. “One year, we got a call from an older woman, because she had a clogged toilet,” Adams said about a memorable call his full-service plumbing company received the day after Thanksgiving. “When we got out there, we saw she had somehow tried to flush an entire turkey carcass down her toilet! Why? She didn’t have a garbage disposal.”
More conventional non-flushable items that can cause serious clogging issues include feminine hygiene products, cotton swabs, cotton balls, paper towels, wipes and hair. All can get stuck in the trap of the toilet, which is s-shaped and sits between your toilet and your drain. (The trap also functions to keep harmful sewer gases from seeping into the air in your home.)
Flushing these objects can ultimately lead to a blockage in the pipe, as they do not break down in the sewer system. In the case of septic systems, flushing chemicals, wipes, or other items into your septic tank can cause the waste-eating bacteria to die, resulting in expensive repairs. Even products marketed as “flushable” really aren’t. Tell family members and friends not to flush these items, as well, and have a conveniently placed waste basket to encourage compliance.
A sewer pipe clogged with baby wipes. Image courtesy of Speedy Septic.
3. External Factors
Tree leaves, sticks and animal nests can block your plumbing vents and prevent them from funneling air into your plumbing system, resulting in toilet clogs and low-pressure flushing – which could slow down your drainage. Hire a professional to clean your vents. Tree roots are another factor, as they can block or reduce water flow, cause overflows of sewer content or damage pipes. Blocked sewer lines are also a major health concern for your family and pets. They could contain viruses, bacteria and many other toxic substances.
4. Hard Water
Hard water has high levels of minerals, which could lead to lime scale build-up, which consists of calcium and magnesium deposits. Lime scale buildup can clog various plumbing fixtures, including toilets, by restricting water flow. A toilet clogged with lime scale deposits will slowly stop working as well as it once did until the toilet no longer flushes waste down the drain. If hard water has been running through your pipes for a long time, consider having your plumbing cleaned professionally. Also, installing a water softener can decrease the amount of minerals and increase the life of all other fixtures and appliances that water flows through.
Now that you know the issues that can cause your toilet to clog, you’re better informed to prevent inconvenient, expensive plumbing problems. The state-certified Master Plumbers at Adams and Son Plumbing can perform preventive maintenance to keep your fixtures and lines in top condition – and provide the experienced, industry-leading repair service that we’ve built our reputation upon over the past 60 years. Contact us and learn more about our services today.