The sewer line that serves your house is probably not something you want to think about often. And since the sewer line is buried out of sight in a trench leading from the side of the house to the municipal sewer main in the street, you don't have anything that will bring it to mind most of the time. However, you must take precautions to see that the sewer line doesn't become damaged. One of the best ways to do that is to see that you avoid flushing items down your home's toilets that don't belong there.
A good general rule of thumb is that you shouldn't use the toilet as if it were a trash receptacle: standard garbage that would go in trash cash does not belong in them. Below are some specific objects that you should never flush, especially if your home uses a sewage pump to move wastewater uphill to the municipal system:
- Cat litter and other gravelly material: If you have a cat, you should always dispose of litter into the trash. Litter is extremely abrasive and will cause damage to the pipes. This also applies to gravel from fish tanks and any fine gravel or clay products.
- Caustic chemicals: And this includes "drain cleaners"! They are harmful for pipes.
- Cigarette butts: These are not biodegradable and can damage sewage pumps
- Strips of cloth: Place rag fragments in the trash, not the toilet.
- Coffee grounds: These are also a big "no" when it comes to kitchen disposals; they can create major clogs. Put them in the trash.
- Cotton swabs: You may have heard the advice "don't flush Q-tips®" and wondered what the big deal about cotton swabs is. They can clog impellers in sewage pumps and cause motor burnout.
- Dental floss: Another non-biodegrable object that can damage sewage pumps.
- Plastic bags: Or any kind of plastic.
- Baby wipes/hand wipes: These are currently creating major problems for municipal sewer system in a number of cities, such as New York.