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Toilets are not bins

Gauteng Managing Agents
Toilets are an essential feature of homes – and they are also something we give very little thought to, day-to-day. Until of course, there is an issue. A blocked or leaking toilet or sewage pipe quickly becomes a smelly, unpleasant problem that can cost a lot to have fixed. It can also cause problems for your neighbours, especially in Sectional Title and/or Homeowners Associations.

Despite the potential consequences, many people treat their toilets as an additional waste bin. Plumbers will tell you that only the ‘3 Ps’ should be flushed (we will let you work out what they are). Human waste and toilet paper break down easily and can be flushed away; most other things cannot.

A waste of water
While stray hairs and bits of fluff are unlikely to cause blockages, flushing them away uses an awful lot of water. Not only will this increase your water bill, but it’s not environmentally friendly. And when water is in short supply, it seems criminal to use 5 litres of drinking water to get rid of some lint.

Toilets are only for people
While cat owners undoubtedly love their pets, some of them don’t seem to be prepared for dealing with cat poop. We hear a lot of reports of people flushing cat droppings down the toilet, and even of people ‘training’ their cats to use the toilet.

Cat poop is unlikely to cause a sewage pipe blockage, but there are other issues – contact with cat faeces can lead to you picking up one of several unpleasant diseases, so rather dispose of it in the garbage. The same goes for dog poop – and neither kind is suitable for use as a fertiliser in your garden. The rules are simple – whether at home or out on a walk, the responsible thing to do is ‘bag it and bin it’.

As for cat litter, that’s a definite no-no! It contains a type of clay called bentonite which is a great ingredient in cat litter, because it absorbs a lot of liquid. Unfortunately, this causes it to swell up dramatically, almost guaranteeing a blockage if you try and flush it down your toilet.

To flush or not to flush?
If you are a responsible homeowner or tenant who only ever flushes the 3 Ps, you have every right to feel flushed with success. You may however still have questions about other items that are marketed as ‘flushable’.

Unfortunately, we must tell you that this description is used wrongly on a lot of products, such as certain brands of antiseptic wipes that have become popular during the pandemic. By simply feeling one, you can tell that it is not made of the same material as toilet paper. In fact, these wipes tend not to break down at all, and can also contribute to blockages.

Sanitary items such as pads and tampons should also not be flushed; they are designed to be absorbent, which means they also swell up when flushed.

Clogged by fat
Too much fat can block your arteries; tipping used oil or other kitchen fats down the sink can block pipes in the same way and cause real problems when the fat cools and congeals (kitchen wastewater pipes of course feed into the sewage pipes).

Hopefully you are not reading this over breakfast, but imagine a sewage pipe blocked by a combination of fat, cat litter, sanitary items and wipes – all mixed together with sewage. Of course this kind of blockage doesn’t happen overnight but rather builds up over time. It can also take time to clear, and in the process, cause significant inconvenience, not to mention a hazard to the health of residents and the unfortunate plumbers called in to deal with the issue. To avoid these kinds of issues with your plumbing – and that of your neighbours – our advice is simple: if in doubt, don’t flush! Following this simple rule could save you a lot more than a higher water bill.

Disclaimer: Kindly note that the above article is merely for information, and is not intended to be comprehensive nor to provide legal advice. Solver Property Services, its employees and agents can in no way be held liable for the accuracy or otherwise of the contents of this article, or for the consequences of any action taken or not taken by any person or organisation based on the contents herein.

For more information, please contact 010 822 2882. Solver has 100+ complexes that we manage, and we are largely considered Gauteng’s preferred managing agents. High-rise buildings, clusters, apartments, we manage it all.

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