3 Things You Should Never Flush in Arizona if You Have One of These
Learning a Lesson the Hard Way
Sometimes you learn things the hard way. This was definitely one of those times.
Picture this: It's two weeks before Christmas. The gifts are still being purchased and some of the decorations are up. Stockings hung, you get the idea. Things are going well.
But that's when it hits the proverbial fan. Suddenly the shower isn't draining. In fact, it seems to be backing up. Flushing toilets make the situation worse, and the sinks are making a hollow, gurgling noise.
The same noise the churning in the pit of my stomach is now making.
Life in Rural Arizona
I've lived in rural Arizona for decades. The upside we live in mostly quiet surroundings. The chorus of crickets, goats, roosters, and other ambient sounds are a melodic symphony I've come to love. The dark skies filled with millions of stars make evenings in the desert worthwhile.
Getting used to living without the conveniences most city folk are accustomed to took me a little time. One adjustment was owing a well and septic system, rather than being hooked up to city water and sewage. We were now responsible for two very expensive and necessary pieces of equipment.
The Great Christmas Back-Up
Living a little less on the grid is mostly wonderful. Wonderful, that is, until you're faced with an expensive oversight right before the holidays.
We'd been the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension's well and septic tank seminars. Those free community outreach events that teach former city folk (yeah, like us!) how to maintain these systems are extremely informative.
The problem is, we didn't listen. And that caused a very expensive learning curve.
Avoiding Expensive Septic Problems
We learned the EXPENSIVE way what not to do when you own a septic tank. Russo Brothers Plumbing offers some ideas on a better way to maintain septic health:
1. Don't Pour Grease Down the Sink!
Grease and oil don’t break down like water and waste. As we learned, if you pour grease down the pipes, you end up with clogs all the way down the line. Don't forget your garbage disposal is also connected to your septic tank!
2. Don't Put Food Waste Down the Drain (Or the Garbage Disposal!)
Basically, don't use your garbage disposal. It's tempting to flush and crush, but these things can cause septic damage in the long run:
- Coffee grounds
- Starchy foods, like rice or potatoes
- Fibrous vegetables like celery and broccoli
3. Flushable Wipes are NOT Flushable
This little error of using flushable wipes ended up costing us even more cash from our Christmas fund. The box reads, "flushable" on the label, but watching the plumbers pull an endless number of "flushable" wipes out of our drains, pipes and the septic system was borderline embarrassing.
Trust me when I tell you, avoid flushing these other cotton-based products, too. For the same embarrassing reason:
- Cotton balls or cotton swabs
- Paper towels
- Sanitary products
The Best Advice in Septic Care
The best advice is an ounce of prevention. Be sure to get your septic tank pumped out regularly and LONG before it threatens to ruin your holidays with a nasty backup. Regular maintenance is much cheaper than paying for an emergency!