Our Shared Sewer
A sanitary sewer is an underground system that takes raw sewage from your home to a water-treatment facility. Sewer clogs and overflows are most often caused when an individual flushes or dumps the wrong materials into toilets and drains. Unfortunately, the resulting sewer malfunctions can have serious repercussions in our community and increase maintenance costs for everyone. The good news is that most clogs and overflows are completely preventable.
It's easy to remember what you can flush down your toilet:
- Human waste.
- Modest amounts of toilet paper.
If you put anything else down your toilet, you might face more than just embarrassment. Plumbing repairs of this kind can run in the thousands of dollars. Moreover, your neighbors will not appreciate your polluting our shared environment. So, make sure you never, ever, flush any of the following items down your toilet. (This list is not all-inclusive.)
Never Flush These
- Feminine products
- Cooking grease, oil, fat
- Food or food wrappers
- Baby wipes or wet wipes—even if they're marked as "flushable"*
- Cleaning pads, even if they're marked as "flushable"*
- Dental floss
- Q-tips/Cotton balls
- Paper towels or tissues
- Rags and towels
- Clothing labels
- Kitty litter
- Aquarium gravel
- Rubber gloves or masks
- Disposable toilet brushes
- Cigarette butts
*Even if the label reads “flushable,” it is still safer—and better for the environment— to place these items in the trash.
The Right Way to Use a Plunger
If your toilet does become clogged, your first line of defense is a plunger. Designed to cover and seal the toilet drain, most clogs will dislodge with the correct use of this handy device.
- Set the bell of the plunger over the drain and press firmly to create a seal.
- Make your first plunge a gentle one. Initially, the bell is full of air. A hard thrust will force the air back around the seal and blow water all over!
- Once the air is cleared from the bell, plunge vigorously up and down, maintaining the seal. This will push water in both directions inside the drain, and that motion will loosen most clogs.
- Plunge 15 to 20 times if needed.
- Try alternating between quick, steady strokes and occasional, deep-heaves.
- Make sure there's enough water in the bowl to cover the toilet plunger. Forcing air through the toilet trap won't generate enough pressure to dislodge a clog.
While we appreciate the importance of bidets in certain cultures, our plumbing system cannot safely accommodate these fixtures. We regret the inconvenience and challenge this presents to some of our members. But, for everyone's safety, we need to strictly enforce this prohibition. If a bidet is found in your home, you will be automatically charged a fine.
Bathroom Sink and Shower Drain
Your toilet isn't the only drain that can back up. Sink and shower drains can clog when dirt, skin flakes, and hair, bind to soap scum on the walls of drain pipes. Over time, this gunk accumulates and reduces water flow. To avoid these kinds of clogs, we recommend using a drain-cover to trap hair before it goes down the drain, in the first place.
Troubleshooting a Clogged Sink or Shower Drain
If your sink or shower drain does become clogged, try each of these methods before requesting maintenance.
- Remove and clean the drain stopper.
- If the clog doesn't budge, try using a drain plunger, being careful to block the overflow drain.
- If neither of those methods work, use a plumbing snake.
How To Use a Plumbing Snake
A plumbing snake is a handy tool for removing fully or partially clogged drains. Follow these steps for use:
- Push the end of the snake all the way into the drain, as far as it will go.
- Rotate the snake in the same direction, repeatedly and slowly.
- Gently pull the snake back out of the drain.
- Since the snake is reusable, you can clean it off and save it, or, if you prefer, throw it away.