Tag Archives: Clogged Drain

Plumbing FAQ – Can I flush wipes & similar “flushable” products down the drain?

Q: I’ve recently read some articles which say that utility companies, municipal water companies and the treatment plants etc. are “freakin’-out” because folks have started to flush all kinds of pre-moistened towelettes down the toilet.  This wasn’t so much of a problem in the past.  Apparently these can cause havoc all the way down the plumbing system at the treatment plants.  What’s the deal with this?  Is it really that bad?  Can it affect my plumbing lines or only the municipal systems? Is toilet paper the only thing I should ever flush down the toilet?

A: The short answer is YES the treatment plants are “freaking out!”  Unfortunately, this translates into higher rates for everyone because they have to structure & modify their equipment to deal with all of these so-called “flushable” over-the-counter products like wipes, cat litter, female sanitary products etc. The main issue is this stuff does not macerate well like human waste and toilet paper. (Sorry for the visual!) Eventually everything makes it to a pump system or means of mechanically moving, sorting & filtering (the raw sewer). Some of these “wipes” are just short of a cloth rag. Flushable in that it will flush and go down but it’s no good for any part of the system down the line. Plumbers joke around the water cooler about how great these products are for keeping us very busy!!

The flushable cat litter is just as bad or worse because it absorbs a ton of water & swells up.  This can cause havoc in the plumbing system!

When I walk down the aisle at the supermarket and see a new flushable product I pause to thank the manufacturer for their patronage. This used to bother me more when I lived in a neighborhood forced to pay sewer rates, but now I have a private septic system.

The Oregon Plumbing Specialty Code addresses this issue: (Oregon plumbing specialty code chapter 3 - 306.1)

The Oregon Plumbing Specialty Code addresses this issue: (Oregon plumbing specialty code chapter 3 – 306.1)

Plumbing FAQ – Can I put coffee grounds down the drain?

Welcome to the first installment of Sutherland Plumbing’s “Frequently Asked Questions!” In this recurring section of our blog we will be presenting real life questions & answers from some of our customers, friends, family & associates. So without further ado, question #1 is:

Q: I have a coffee machine with a washable, re-useable filter. It’s easier for me to just wash the used coffee grounds down the drain as I’m cleaning the re-useable filter instead of putting a paper filter in the trash. Is this bad? Should I be putting the used grounds in the garbage? Is it okay to put used coffee grounds down the drain?

A: Coffee grounds can swell (absorb more water) even further after introduced into the drain, so Sutherland Plumbing always advises folks – no, you shouldn’t put used coffee grounds down the drain.

There are more than a few determining factors why drains slow and clog. It’s usually not one singular event, assuming abuse isn’t the case. It’s analogous to a human’s cardiovascular system & arteries. Poor diet, age, genetics etc.

Have you ever heard someone’s rebuttal to: “dairy, bacon and butter is bad for you.”

Well my gramps ate two eggs, bacon & hash-browns cooked in butter everyday of his life and lived to 99 years old!”

I hear it all the time when I tell people you “shouldn’t put this & that down the drain!”

They say: “I’ve been doing it that way for a 1000 years.”

Then the next service call, the drain is packed full of egg shells and coffee grounds! The determining factors are: The type of pipe and how it was originally installed (genetics). How long and what’s been going down the drain for years (diet & age) and how the system is used.(Lifestyle). See what I mean?

The short answer: it’s best not to put coffee grounds down the drain!

Drain clogged?  You know who to call!  Sutherland Plumbing, LLC at (503) 719-4015!

Drain clogged? You know who to call! Sutherland Plumbing, LLC at (503) 719-4015!

Do “Supermarket” Liquid Drain Cleaners Work?

Bleach kills bacteria, right? Would you drink bleach to cure a bacterial infection? No, of course not – that’s crazy!! (Not to mention extremely dangerous and life threatening!) A trip to a licensed, qualified doctor and a prescription is more like it! Think of this analogy next time you consider pouring liquid or powdered drain cleaners/openers down your pipes. There is NO engineering marvel behind most of these products!  Many are just made up of caustic & corrosive acids and then placed inside a container with pretty pictures of sparkling clean pipes. Take it from a licensed, experienced plumber that has witnessed years of destruction caused by these “over the counter” products.  The pictures below are probably what your drain pipes look like post “treatment” with these so-called liquid drain “cleaners.”

Don't make your plumbing system even worse with "over the counter" products. Call (503) 719-4015 and have the professionals at Sutherland Plumbing inspect & clean your drains & pipes. Call Today!

Don’t make your plumbing system even worse with “over the counter” products. Call (503) 719-4015 and have the professionals at Sutherland Plumbing inspect and clean your drains & pipes. Call Today!

Drains clog over time similar to how an artery in a heart might. See below:

Liquid Cleaner 2

Don’t make your pipes & drains even worse with “over the counter” products. Call (503) 719-4015 and have the professionals at Sutherland Plumbing inspect and clean your drains & pipes. Call Today!

There’s no replacement for a little “elbow-grease,” proper drain cleaning equipment and a technician trained on how to use it. The build-up inside the drain must be physically removed and/or cleaned-out by mechanical means (cabled or snaked). Pouring acid into the drain may “burn” a small opening and cause the drain to flow again – However the results are temporary (at best!) and the damage is irreversible. Always hire a licensed, qualified, professional plumber to inspect and correctly clean your drains & pipes. Get it done right the first time!

Ti’s Tips, Volume #3 – Act NOW before it’s too late!!

Ignoring symptoms of a failing plumbing system – i.e. Weird or strange sounds, leaks, drips, loose & wobbly faucets or fittings, slow or clogged drains, or poor water pressure etc. is like ignoring a traffic citation. It can’t magically vanish, it only gets worse over time…………

Don’t ignore symptoms of a failing plumbing system. Call Sutherland Plumbing at (503) 719-4015. Call today!

Ti’s Tips, Volume #1 – Oh no, Clogged Drains!

Hi Everyone!

I’m Ti Sutherland, Co-Owner & Master Plumber for Sutherland Plumbing in Portland, Oregon.  Here at Sutherland Plumbing, we strive to be the Portland Metro area’s #1 family-owned plumbing service.  Our customers receive top-quality work from technicians who are always 100% drug-free.  But that’s not all.  At Sutherland Plumbing we understand the importance for our customers to keep their plumbing systems running smoothly and efficiently all year-round.  So it’s in the spirit of shared knowledge that I present the first volume of my new column – “Ti’s Tips” :

Ti’s Tips, Volume #1 – Oh no, Clogged Drains!

The use of so-called liquid drain cleaners or openers is discouraged! There is NO marvel of design in these products. Most are made of highly caustic acids that only serve to dissolve, eat and destroy anything in their path including your plumbing pipes. Some even go as far as to claim “safe for all pipes” even if the results from using these products are temporary at best. You be the judge. Drains clog for the most part as a result of grease, fats, oils and other matter accumulating inside the pipe. In order to CLEAN the drain one must scour the inside with proper equipment and knowledge. This is commonly referred to as snaking or “rootering” the drain. There is a big difference between “CLEANING” the drain as opposed to “OPENING” the drain. Baking soda and vinegar? Use at your own risk. Those items work best when baking or cooking food and are wasted when poured down the drain!  Don’t say we didn’t warn you!Image