Sewer Care: What Not to Put Down the Drain

Don't Flush Other stuff!

What you put down your drain or flush down your toilet can negatively impact the environment and it can also create sewer blockages and back-ups.

Items to NOT Flush Down the Toilet or Pour Down the Drain

Below is a list of just some of the items that should not be flushed down the drain:

  • Paper products - facial tissue, paper towel, cardboard, etc. The only paper product that should be flushed down the drain is toilet paper.
  • Grease
  • Food Waste
  • Rags
  • J-Cloths
  • Paper towels
  • Feminine Hygiene Products
  • Face Wipes, Baby Wipes, Sanitary Towelettes (manufacturers often say these products are "flushable"; however the reality is they cause blockages in our waste water system)
  • Bandages
  • Cotton Wool / Cotton Buds
  • Diapers
  • Household Hazardous Waste
  • Kitty Litter
  • Dental Floss
  • Medication

For more information on how to dispose of the items listed above, visit Wellington County Solid Waste Services.

Grease

  • Never pour grease down the sink drain or toile. Grease cannot be broken down effectively during the wastewater treatment process. Grease that is flushed down the pipes can block sewer pipes.
  • Grease clings to pipes and builds up over time.
  • Cold weather solidifies grease.
  • Blocked sewage (sewer backup) can surge up through sinks, floor drains and toilets and make for a very, very messy cleanup.

How to Dispose of Grease Properly

  1. Pour grease into a container or absorb with paper towel. Throw it in the garbage. Household liquid edible food oils can be taken to the Household Hazardous Waste Facility at your local Community Recycling Centre.
  2. Before washing dishes, scrape hardened grease into the garbage.
  3. Additives claiming to reduce grease may only pass grease further into the pipe.

And remember: All storm sewers lead to your water.

  • The storm sewer system drains into rivers, streams and lakes, and can seep into the ground.
  • What goes in the storm sewer can contaminate the sources of our drinking water

SEWER BLOCKAGES

Signs of a sewer blockage include:

  • Toilets, basins, baths or tubs are slow to empty;
  • Toilets overflow or fill higher than usual;
  • Gully-traps or Overflow Relief Gully in the yard overflow when the toilet is flushed, when basins or baths are released;
  • Overflowing sewer access chambers (manholes);
  • Gurgling noises in the sanitary drains.

Causes of a sewer blockage include:

  • The illegal connection of storm water sumps or downpipes to the sewer causing them to overflow when it rains.
  • Wastes that are not intended for the sewer, choking the system and leading to backflows of sewage within the property;
  • Tree roots entering through drainage pipes, faulty joints or loose inspection openings; cracked sewer pipes that have been damaged by movement of the sub-soil, penetration of rocks, increases the risk of bad and leaking pipes or connections; and
  • Changes to the property by overloading the ground with retaining walls, building structures and vehicular traffic also can cause crush or flatten sewer pipes.

Sewer pipes can block:

  • In any part of the sanitary drain within the property;
  • In the point of connection (POC) where the sanitary drains connect to the Municipal line;
  • In the Municipal line (between the main and the POC); and
  • In the Municipal sewer main and access chamber (manhole).

What to do if the sewer blocks:

The Guelph/Eramosa Township does not provide services for clearing blockages on private property.  However, you may contact the Township Office to determine whether the blockage is on public or private property.

  1. If the blockage is found to be on private property, outside of regular working hours of 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., relevant costs in providing this service will apply.
  2. If the blockage was caused by tree roots in the Township’s point of connection (POC), sewer main or outside property boundary the fee will be absorbed by the Township.
  3. Private plumbers are not permitted to clear blockages that are located within the Municipal sewer main, this service may be procured by wastewater staff only.

Here is a list of items to consider if you suspect your sanitary sewer from your house to the main is plugged.

  • Call a reputable plumber that is licensed.
  • Ask if the plumber has video inspection equipment available to examine your pipes before and after the cleaning process is completed.  This will help in determining the location of the blockage and to ensure the blockage is cleared.   
  • Ensure this plumber is able to make a copy of this video inspection which will identify any deficiencies within the pipe, from your home to the sewer mains. This is an important step, for if the video reveals the pipe is damaged on the Town’s property, the costs related to the pipe cleaning and video recording may be the responsibility of the Township.

WHO IS RESPONSIBLE IN MAINTAINING MY SEWER LINES?

The maintenance of private sanitary drainage lines is the sole responsibility of the property owner.

If you have any queries about the information presented, please contact the Public Works Department (Water/Wastewater) at 519-856-9596 ext. 122.