Keeping your home’s plumbing system in good working order is obviously essential. Unfortunately, many things can potentially damage or ruin your home’s plumbing and pipes, which is why it is crucial that you are diligent and never flush or wash things down the sink that you shouldn’t. One question we hear surprisingly often is customers wondering whether vomit can harm or ruin their plumbing, and the answer depends primarily on whether the vomit goes into the toilet or down the sink.
The Impact of Vomit on Plumbing and Septic Systems
Generally speaking, vomiting in the toilet shouldn’t really cause any issues for your home’s plumbing. Most toilets should be able to easily handle even a large volume of vomit without getting clogged or experiencing any other issues. On the other hand, vomiting in your sink is definitely a bad idea as it will almost always end up clogging the drain pipe.
Even though most clogs are relatively easy to take care of, they could still potentially cause your pipes to leak or even burst. For this reason, if you have to throw up, it is always best to do it in the toilet or a trash can. The only way you can prevent vomit from clogging your drainpipe is if there is a sink strainer covering the drain. Nonetheless, you would still have to deal with and dispose of all of the solids that the strainer catches, which isn’t really an ideal solution.
There are horror stories of people continually vomiting in their sink and eventually ruining their pipes due to all of the stomach acid. Fortunately, these seem to be nothing more than urban legends, as it would take a massive amount of vomit over a period of many years for the acids to cause any damage to your pipes. Think about it this way: if the acid in the vomit isn’t causing any damage to your esophagus, it definitely isn’t going to be strong enough to eat through PVC or other plumbing materials quickly.
Although vomiting in the toilet generally shouldn’t cause any issues for residential plumbing and sewage systems, there is some evidence that suggests it’s not a good idea if your home uses a septic system. The reason is that it increases the amount of solid waste inside the tank, and the undigested food particles can also interfere with the beneficial bacteria inside the tank. This is the exact reason why you should never put food into a septic system or anything else other than human waste and toilet paper.
What to Do if Your Plumbing Is Clogged With Vomit
It happens. Sometimes you simply can’t make it to the toilet and will have to vomit in the sink. If this happens and your drain becomes clogged, you have many options for dealing with it. The easiest and often most effective alternative is to use a sink plunger to see if you can loosen or dislodge the clog. If this doesn’t work, you’ll either need to use a pipe snake or enlist the help of a professional plumber. What you should never do is attempt to clear the clog with a chemical drain cleaner for reasons that we’ll discuss in the next section.
One important thing to note if you’re going to try using a pipe snake is that it will generally pull the clog back up and out of the drain. This means that you will most definitely want to wear gloves while using the snake, and you’ll also need to dispose of whatever might come out of the drain. You also need to make sure you’re careful when winding the snake down the drain, as you could potentially damage or break the drain pipe if you use too much force.
Why Drain Cleaner Is Never a Good Solution
When the sink or toilet is clogged with vomit or anything else, the majority of people turn to chemical drain cleaners to take care of the issue. There is no doubt that drain cleaners can be an effective option as the chemical reaction they cause can quickly dissolve and break down even the most stubborn clogs. However, the harsh chemicals and extreme heat that they produce can also damage or eat through your pipes. This is why most professional plumbers recommend that you never use any type of chemical drain cleaning product, as it simply isn’t worth the risk.
The manufacturers of drain cleaning products will tell you that their product is 100% safe and won’t damage your plumbing, but this simply isn’t true. Think about it this way. If the chemicals are strong enough almost instantly to dissolve organic matter, they are also strong enough to possibly damage your pipes. These chemicals are far more corrosive than the acids in your stomach, which means that they can also cause much more damage than the vomit itself.
Other Items That Can Harm Your Plumbing System
The only things that should ever go into your plumbing system are water, toilet paper, and human waste. Soap, shampoo, laundry detergent, and milder cleaning agents are also acceptable, but you should definitely never pour bleach or any other harsh chemicals down the drain.
Another thing you should always avoid is any product that is labeled as flushable. This includes baby wipes, makeup removers, feminine hygiene products, napkins, paper towels, etc. Companies label these items as flushable simply because your toilet should be able to handle them. However, just because they can be flushed down the toilet doesn’t mean that they won’t potentially clog your pipes.
There is a considerable difference between these types of products and toilet paper. Toilet paper breaks down and dissolves into small pieces when flushed, but these other so-called flushable products will stay intact through your pipes. This means that they can easily get stuck and cause a clog anywhere in your home’s plumbing system or the sewer main out in your yard. When this happens, your only real option is to hire a plumber to come and clean or unblock the pipe.
Other items you should avoid putting into your plumbing system include cat litter, condoms, and cigarette butts. You should also make sure never to wash grease, oil, fat, or food products down the drain, which is true even if you have a garbage disposal.
Professional Plumbing and HVAC Services
If you’re experiencing clogged drains or any other issues with your home’s plumbing system, the expert plumbers at Rite Way Heating, Cooling & Plumbing can help you quickly overcome the problem. We offer a full range of plumbing services, including repairs, installation, drain cleaning, and leak detection. Our team also works on all types of water heaters and water softeners. We also have a team of certified HVAC technicians that can handle any heating or cooling tasks you may require. We have been providing outstanding plumbing and HVAC services to customers in the Tucson area since 1956, and we are always available 24/7 for any emergency situations. Give us a call today to learn more about our services or schedule an appointment.