Kitchens are a source of fire and flood while bathrooms are a major source of flooding and water damage.
As the newspaper article below points out, it is very important not to
flush solids down bathroom sinks or toilets. The drains in a condo
tower will get plugged a lot faster than the city drains will.
Human hair, cat litter, paper towels, tampons, kitchen grease or any
other solids should never be dumped down the sink or flushed down the
If you help plug up the water drains, you may be the one who will have
the waste back up into your bathroom. Not a pleasant experience.
You can have bathroom leaks from a unit above you or from a neighbouring unit that is on the same stack.
It is important to have a plastic pail, or two, just in case you are a victim of a water leak or a flooding.
Also, if you live in an older condo, make sure that you have shut-off
valves in your bathroom and kitchen and that they are in working order.
You do not want to discover that they are seized when you need them the
If you have had renovations done in your bathroom, be sure to keep a
few spare tiles in storage. If the plumbers come in and have to break
some tiles to get at a leak, you will want to have replacements on hand.
Don’t believe the wipe hype: So-called ‘flushable’ products clogging Vancouver pipes, costing millions
13 May 2016
Devin Kiyonaga spends a lot of time thinking about toilets flushing.
“I can’t help but be passionate about this topic now,” said Kiyonaga, a
Metro Vancouver project engineer. “As a joke, I’ll throw in my email
signature, every now and then: ‘Think of me when you flush.'”
Kiyonaga is working on a new Metro Vancouver campaign targeting a
problem that has recently made a mess of the region’s pump stations and
500 kilometres of sewer mains.
And if you see them floating around or tumbling around in the station where the sewage comes in, they kind of look like sheep.
The clogs are made of bundled-up masses of items that shouldn’t be
flushed, Kiyonaga said, including everything from paper towels to
dental floss, and one prime culprit — the so-called “flushable wipe.”
PNGMetro Vancouver employees work to “de-rag” a clog in a Port Moody pump station. Metro Vancouver
Now, Metro Vancouver wants to get out a message: Even if the product says “flushable,” don’t believe the wipe hype.
Crews at Lower Mainland pump stations call these balled-up masses of material “rags,” he said, or “sheep.”
“They’re kind of this big, white mass,” Kiyonaga said, “and if you see
them floating around or tumbling around in the station where the sewage
comes in, they kind of look like sheep.”
Kiyonaga said he has seen Metro staff remove single “sheep” as heavy as
25 kilograms, and large enough to fill a blue recycling bin.
He was assigned to the “flushability” file in 2011, shortly after one
such clog caused a backup and flood at the Baynes Road Pump Station in
Pitt Meadows. After the flood, crews had to truck 32 million litres of
sewage off the site, the Maple Ridge & Pitt Meadows News reported
at the time.
Such messes are not only a headache for workers, but also a burden for taxpayers.
The Ontario-based Municipal Enforcement Sewer Use Group (MESUG),
estimates that more than $250 million is spent each year cleaning
Canadian sewers clogged by baby wipes, disinfectant wipes, and other
MESUG spokesman Barry Orr, who has previously said Canadian taxpayers
are “literally flushing away millions,” said this week: “We have been
seeing an increase in capital cost to install grinders and screens; now
the issue puts us into the billions of dollars we are spending.”
Last month, Metro Vancouver launched a program of “adult toilet
training.” The “Never Flush Wipes” campaign aims to educate residents
about what Metro Vancouver utilities committee chair Darrell Mussatto
calls a “huge problem.”
“A lot of the industry is calling these things flushable. And they’re
not, because they don’t break down,” said Mussatto, mayor of the City
of North Vancouver. “The only things that go in the toilet are number one, number two, and toilet paper.”
B.C. Water & Waste Association CEO Tanja McQueen said: “It’s a
growing problem, because there are more and more products coming on to
the market now that are claiming to be flushable, but in fact are not.
Right now there are no regulatory standards that define what we mean by
That lack of regulation is a problem, said Kiyonaga, adding: “You could
put ‘flushable’ on almost anything right now … you could put
‘flushable’ on a beer bottle or a golf ball.”
Kiyonaga, along with municipal engineers from across Canada, is part of
an international effort to develop a global standard for
“flushability.” The group is working on regulatory standards to be
recognized by the International Standards Organization (ISO), which
they hope could be used in Canada by the end of this year.
But the effort to achieve an ISO “flushability” standard was criticized
this week by the leader of the association representing the wet-wipe
Dave Rousse, president of the International Nonwovens and Disposables
Association (INDA) said an ISO standard is “highly unnecessary” and
“going to be too broad and too vague to really be effective.” The
industry’s own “code of practice and the flushability assessment
guidelines” are rigorous enough to ensure flushability, he said.
Rousse said the flushed products clogging sewer systems in Vancouver
and around North America are not INDA-certified “flushable” wipes,
which make up about seven per cent of the overall North American
moist-wipe market, worth about US$500 million annually.
Rousse said Metro Vancouver’s “Never Flush Wipes” campaign was “misleading the public.”
But the message this week from Metro Vancouver’s Mussatto was: “Until
we come up with a standard, and we can enforce what’s flushable and
what isn’t, we’re asking everybody: ‘Just don’t put anything in the
toilet that shouldn’t be there.'”
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