Money Down the Drain: 7 Substances That can Harm Your Home Value and the Environment
Keeping up a strong home value can be a constant struggle. Not only do factors in the surrounding areas play a role, but maintenance and upkeep do as well. All houses age, and as they do so things such as roofs and paint will have to be replaced and updated. But did you know you could be damaging your pipes and potentially lowering the value of your house with things you put down the drain? Property damage resulting from plumbing issues are the second leading cause of homeowner loss. Here are some of the most common substances that could be causing damage to your plumbing.
Things such as lighter fluid, kerosene, gasoline, and nail polish remover, are highly flammable and are classified as hazardous substances. These types of substances are generally also very corrosive and can damage plumbing, costing thousands of dollars in repairs. Hazardous chemicals such as these require special disposal. It is best to contact your local hazardous waste collection center to obtain disposal instructions.
Contrary to their labels, most products marketed as being “flushable,” really aren’t. It tends to be more luck of the draw weather wipes, or sanitary products, will go down the drain, or stick partway down causing the drain pipe to clog. As a rule of thumb, nothing besides the usual should be flushed down the toilet.
Pharmaceuticals are extremely toxic, resulting in almost half a million poisoning emergencies each year. The main reason to avoid disposing of medications by flushing them down the toilet, or pouring them down the drain, is that water treatment plants are not equipped to remove them from the water supply. This may not cost homeowners directly, but since disposing of medication in this way is so common, many cities are being forced to upgrade their plant which will cost the cities, and taxpayers, hundreds of thousands of dollars. Its best to place any medication that you need to get rid of in a plastic bag full of kitty litter and throw in the trash, or contact your local pharmacy to see if they offer any disposal programs.
Personal Care Products
Most beauty products can be as bad for the water supply as pharmaceuticals. Many soaps, dyes and cleansers contain parabens, sodium lauryl sulfate, and phthalates. Not only are those chemicals bad for the environment, they can be harmful to your pipes as well. It is estimated that each household can dump up to 33 liters of products down the drain per year. In large amounts, common beauty products can also build up in pipes and cause clogs.
Many paints contain biocides, which are a pesticide that prevents mold growth, which is great for your walls, but harmful to your plumbing. Calcium and lead, which can be toxic, are other common ingredients in paints. To dispose of paint safely, you can mix in some kitty litter and let it dry before tossing in the trash. Before putting unused paint on the corner though, check with your state sanitation department to see if your state has any specific regulations for paint disposal.
Oils and Grease
Oils and grease are not water soluble, which means that they will stick to the sides of your pipes and cause blockage and backups. Common household oils and greases include things like grease drained from bacon, chicken, ground beef or other meats. cooking oil, salad dressing, mayonnaise, shortening, lard and motor oil. The trash is a much better option for disposing of these types of substances.
The best rule of thumb for determining if you should pour something down the drain, is to ask yourself if it’s something you could potentially, safely drink. If not, another form of disposal is probably wisest. So be kind to your plumbing, your wallet and the environment, and think carefully before dumping something down the drain. You could be dumping money down the drain.