I’m going about my day, minding my own business, when I hear a loud “whoosh” coming from the bathroom. Confused, I rush over to find out what’s going on.
And there it is, sinking in the depths of the toilet bowl—an accidental flush of something I didn’t mean to send on a wild water ride.
Panic sets in as I wonder, “What happens now?” Well, my friend, let’s dive into the world of accidentally flushed objects and discover the consequences that can unfold from this unexpected plumbing mishap.
What Happens If You Flush Something Down A Toilet?
When I was a child, I always wondered what happens to the things we have flushed down the toilet. Where are they gone?
Like my childhood curious thought, many people also have the same thought. For them, here I am going to uncover this mystery.
When you flush something down a toilet, it typically goes through the plumbing system and ends up in the sewer system or septic tank, depending on the type of sewage system in place.
The exact consequences of flushing something down a toilet can vary depending on what you’re flushing.
1. Toilet Paper
Toilet paper is designed to break down quickly in water and disintegrates as it travels through the plumbing.
It is generally safe to flush toilet paper as it is meant to be disposed of in this manner.
Learn more about toilet paper through these blogs:
2. Human Waste
Human waste, also known as feces or solid waste, is biodegradable and meant to be flushed down the toilet.
It enters the sewage system and undergoes treatment at a wastewater treatment plant to remove contaminants before being discharged into the environment.
Flushing water down the toilet is normal and part of the regular flushing process. It helps carry away waste and maintains the proper water level in the toilet bowl.
4. Approved Items
Only items specifically designed to be flushed down the toilet should be flushed.
This includes toilet paper, sanitary products labeled as flushable, and specific wipes explicitly marked as safe to flush.
However, even some products labeled as “flushable” can cause issues in plumbing systems, so it’s best to be cautious and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
5. Non-Flushable Items
Flushing non-flushable items can lead to various problems.
Things not designed to break down in water can cause blockages in the plumbing system, leading to clogged toilets, backed-up pipes, and sewage backups.
Non-flushable items include baby wipes, facial tissues, cotton balls, cigarette butts, dental floss, diapers, and other hygiene products.
These items can accumulate and cause significant issues in residential and municipal sewage systems.
It’s important to note that even if something is flushed successfully down the toilet, it doesn’t mean it disappears entirely.
Waste and wastewater from toilets go through extensive treatment processes at wastewater treatment plants to remove contaminants and ensure the water is safe to be discharged back into the environment.
Can Flushed Things Come Back Up?
Flushed things can sometimes come back up if there is a blockage or a malfunction in the plumbing system.
When you flush something down a toilet, it is intended to flow through the plumbing pipes and into the sewer system or septic tank.
However, if there is a blockage in the pipes, such as a buildup of non-flushable items or a clog, the water and waste can back up and resurface in the toilet bowl or other fixtures.
Several factors can contribute to items coming back up after being flushed:
Flushing non-flushable items can lead to blockages in the plumbing pipes.
These blockages can prevent proper water flow and cause backups, resulting in flushed items resurfacing in the toilet or other drains.
Also Read: How To Clear A Blocked Macerator Toilet
2. Clogged Drain Lines
Over time, debris, grease, or other substances can accumulate in the drain lines, leading to clogs. These clogs can obstruct the flow of water and cause backups.
Also Read: How To Flush A Clogged Toilet
3. Plumbing System Malfunctions
In some cases, malfunctions, such as a faulty sewer line or a malfunctioning septic system, can cause waste and flushed items to return.
If you experience items returning after flushing, it is essential to address the issue promptly.
You may need to call a professional plumber to inspect and resolve any blockages or plumbing system malfunctions.
Additionally, I always advised only to flush items specifically designed to be flushed, such as toilet paper and certain flushable products, and to avoid flushing non-flushable things that can cause problems in the plumbing system.
How To Get Something Out Of The Toilet
If you accidentally dropped something into the toilet and need to retrieve it, here are some steps you can take to try and get it out:
Step 1: Safety First
Before attempting to retrieve the item, wear disposable gloves to protect your hands from coming into contact with any waste or potentially harmful substances.
Step 2: Turn off the Water
Turn off the water supply valve behind or near the toilet. This will prevent the water from refilling the toilet bowl, potentially causing the item to be further pushed into the drain.
Step 3: Assess the Situation
Determine if the item is visible and reachable in the toilet bowl or has gone further down the drain. You can retrieve it using the following methods if it is still within reach.
However, if the item has gone down the drain or you are still determining about retrieving it yourself, it’s advisable to seek the assistance of a professional plumber.
Step 4: Use Tools
If the item is still visible and reachable, you can use various tools to retrieve it.
You can use a pair of long-nose pliers or tongs to carefully grab the item and lift it out for small items.
Alternatively, you can use a wire coat hanger straightened out with a hook bent at the end to fish out the thing.
Step 5: Plunge the Toilet
If the item is stuck and cannot be easily retrieved, you can use a plunger to create suction and dislodge the object. Make sure to use a toilet plunger specifically designed for toilets.
Place the plunger over the drain opening, ensuring a good seal, and push down and pull up forcefully several times. This action can create pressure changes that may help dislodge the item.
Step 6: Seek Professional Help
If the item still needs to be retrievable or you are uncomfortable attempting the retrieval yourself, it’s best to contact a professional plumber.
They have the necessary expertise and tools to safely address the situation and avoid further damage to the plumbing system.
Remember, it’s essential to exercise caution when attempting to retrieve items from the toilet.
If at any point you feel unsure or uncomfortable, I must recommend seeking professional assistance to avoid potential damage or injury.
Things to Avoid If An Object Gets Flushed Down The Toilet
If an object accidentally gets flushed down the toilet, there are specific actions you should avoid taking to prevent further problems and potential damage to your plumbing system.
Here are some things you should not do in such a situation:
- Do not flus again
- Do not use chemicals
- Do not use excessive force
- Do not disassemble the toilet
- Don not ignore the issue
1. Do Not Flush Again
Resist the urge to flush the toilet again to make the object disappear.
Flushing multiple times can increase the chances of causing a blockage or backup, especially if the object is already causing an obstruction.
2. Do Not Use Chemicals
Avoid using harsh chemicals, drain cleaners, or similar substances to try and dissolve or dislodge the object.
These chemicals can be ineffective, and in some cases, they can even worsen the situation by causing damage to your pipes or creating harmful fumes.
3. Do Not Use Excessive Force
It’s essential not to use excessive force or try to forcefully push the object further into the drain with plungers, tools, or other things.
This can cause the object to get lodged deeper or damage the plumbing system.
4. Do Not Disassemble the Toilet
While it may be tempting to disassemble the toilet to retrieve the object, it is generally only recommended if you have experience and knowledge of plumbing systems.
Removing or disassembling the toilet can lead to leaks, further damage, or improper reinstallation.
5. Do Not Ignore the Issue
Ignoring the situation and leaving the object in the toilet can lead to further problems such as blockages, backups, or leaks.
It’s best to address the issue promptly to avoid more significant plumbing issues.
In situations where an object gets flushed down the toilet, and you cannot retrieve it using simple methods, I advise you to seek the assistance of a professional plumber.
They have the expertise and tools necessary to safely assess and resolve the problem without causing further damage to your plumbing system.
Accidentally flushing something down the toilet can have various consequences.
While toilet paper and human waste are typically manageable, non-flushable items can cause blockages, clogs, and plumbing issues.
It’s essential to exercise caution, only flush approved items, and promptly address any problems to avoid costly repairs and potential environmental impacts.
What Happens If My Kid Flushed A Toy Down The Toilet?
If your kid flushed a toy down the toilet, it could cause a plumbing blockage or clog. Contact a professional plumber to assess and resolve the issue.
What Are The Basic Toilet Rules?
Flush only toilet paper & waste, not other items. Avoid excessive toilet paper usage. Keep the toilet clean & report issues promptly.
What Are Two Good Habits While Using Toilet?
Flush responsibly and use appropriate amounts of toilet paper. Keep the toilet clean for the next user’s convenience.
What Are The Don’ts Of Toilet Hygiene?
Don’t flush non-flushable items. Make sure to leave a clean toilet. Remember to wash your hands after using the bathroom.