City reminds residents to not use toilets as trash cans

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Fargo, ND (Valley News Live) "Maybe it's just an easy way of disposal, maybe it's an accident, but some of the things that we have seen and have found in there, not quite sure how it can be an accident," Fargo Waste Water Utility Director Jim Hausauer said.

A toilet has powerful drainage making it tempting to use it like our own personal trash transporter. Today the City of Fargo is reminding people that toilets are not meant to be used as trash cans after a Fargo lift station pump was found completely covered with debris that was flushed down the toilet.

It might be easy to get rid of garage by throwing it in the toilet and flushing, but it’s a bad idea.

"They get stuck either in the toilet, depending on how old the toilet is, it can corrode in the p-trap of the toilet, also it can get stuck in the sewer," plumber Brandon Kummeth said.

Plumbers get calls about inappropriate items being flushed down the toilet six to eight times a week.

"Depending on the condition of your sewer pipe, it can clog up fairly quickly or it could take a week before you notice it backing up into your floor drains or bathrooms in your basement," Kummeth said.

Depending on the damage, the cost to fix the problem can get pricey.

"It can vary, it can be from 100-300 dollars or even more just depending on where the problem lies, if it's in the toilet or main sewer of the house," Kummeth said.

"If you are plugging up your own service line, you run the risk of sewer back up in your own home, not only causing problems for the city and city equipment but also you run the risk for creating problems for your basement,” Hausauer said.

You'd be surprised with what employees at the Wastewater Treatment Plant have found in sewer pipes.

"Golf balls, baseballs, underwear, pool balls. You name it, we find it in there, even cash,” Hausauer said.

The city says items like pads, cleaning sponges, baby wipes, and even hair should not be flushed because it can lead to sanitary sewer backups or overflows. If there is a pump problem, they must be cleaned by hand to prevent pump failures.

"There are incidents where we spend 20-25 hours a week just unplugging pumps and doing maintenance on these items,” Hausauer said.

Next time remember this before you flush:

"I would recommend not to flush anything down the toilet, unless it is toilet paper, even if it says it is biodegradable, it may take months if not longer for it to dissolve,” Kummeth said.

The City of Fargo also says items that are labeled flushable should not be flushed because they still take a long time to dissolve.