To mark World Toilet Day (Friday 19 November), the Consumer Council for Water is calling for consumers to use their loos responsibly by not sending inappropriate items down the drain.
We visit the toilet an average of 2,500 times a year and spend about three years of our life on the loo, yet often the humble WC, and sometimes the items we put down it arent given a second thought.
Toilet cleansing cloths, face wipes, baby wipes, cotton wool, tampons, sanitary towels, condoms, nappies, razor blades and plasters, along with fats, oils and grease frequently make their way into the sewer system, even though they would be better off in the bin.
Research by the Consumer Council for Water showed that the majority of consumers are unaware that these items can get caught in pipes, building up a blockage over time because unlike toilet paper, they dont break down. Blocked drains can either lead to expensive maintenance bills, or worse, sewer flooding.
Three quarters of sewer blockages are caused by people putting items they shouldnt down the loo or the sink, and half of sewer flooding is caused by these blockages.
Any drains or private sewers that carry waste away from the home are the customers responsibility, (or landlord’s) both inside and outside the property boundary until the point where they connect with the public sewers.
The sewerage company is only responsible for public sewers. In most cases these are in roads or public open spaces but in certain circumstances they may run through private gardens.
Tony Smith, Chief Executive of the Consumer Council for Water, said: Having your home flooded with sewage is very unpleasant and companies should provide the best customer service possible to prevent it from happening in the first place.
But consumers have a role to play too by ensuring that household rubbish, including fats, oils and grease stay out of toilets and drains, and instead are put in the bin where they belong.
People who put things they shouldnt down the loo or sink could cause a blockage which may disrupt their own and even their neighbours services until the problem is cleared.
Its not just the inconvenience of blocked sewers and drains, customers could be flushing money away as well. The cost of having your own private drains unblocked can be expensive. If the public sewers are blocked, the sewerage companies costs in removing blockages get passed on to customers through their sewerage bills.
Sewer flooding facts
- Drains from the home are no wider than four inches (100mm) and are only built to carry water, toilet paper and human waste.
- If you find it difficult to flush your toilet or notice that water drains away slowly or bubbles in the bottom of your toilet, contact your sewerage company and clearly explain the symptoms. Do not try to flush the toilet again as this could cause internal flooding.
- If the problem is due to a blockage or fault in your private drain, you will need to hire a drainage contractor to repair it. Sewerage companies are only responsible for unblocking and maintaining public sewers.
- If sewage has entered your property from a public sewer, the sewerage company will send someone to visit you as soon as possible and help clean your property.
- You are entitled to a rebate of your annual sewerage bill (up to £1000) to cover damages to the inside of your property caused by flooding from a public sewer.
- Dont forget to check if your household insurance covers sewer flooding.
- The first toilet paper was developed in England in 1880, although it wasnt until 1935 that toilet paper was advertised as splinter free!
- The first toilet cubicle in a public washroom is least likely to be used, therefore usually the cleanest.
- Each person uses an average of 57 sheets of toilet paper a day.
- Most toilets flush in the key of E flat.