Are Tampons Causing Your Plumbing Problems?

Tampons are a convenience for women, but they can cause significant issues with your plumbing. It's better to not flush tampons down the toilet, even if you think your plumbing can handle it. Doing so can cause some significant problems with your plumbing. Here's what you need to know about this problem and how you can avoid it or get it fixed.

"Safe to Flush"

Tampons, like many other products on the market, are specifically marketed as being "safe to flush" in a toilet or even into a septic tank. Unfortunately, this marketing gimmick doesn't mean much in the real world.

All this term means is that the manufacturer ran a test to determine if the product could make it down a toilet pipe successfully. Each manufacturer's in-house rules to follow vary, so the test may be very different from a real-world scenario, where you might have older pipes, a low-flow toilet, or simply flush far more down a real toilet than a test toilet. In short, if something says this on the packaging, don't assume that it's actually safe to flush.

Long-Term Effect on Plumbing

In most cases, tampons have a long-term effect on plumbing and not a short-term one. This is because initially, tampons can get stuck in the pipes without causing any significant problems. Since the pipe is much wider than a tampon, it won't cause a problem at first. However, as more debris — and potentially more tampons — continue to get stuck on the first one, it can start to form a large blockage in the pipe. Once it reaches this point all the plunging in the world isn't going to break it up, as it's deeper in the pipe or sewer line.

What to Do

The first thing to do is to stop flushing tampons immediately. Throw them away instead. It may be a bit of an inconvenience, but it's better than needing a plumber to come to your house every week.

Next, call a plumbing contractor. They'll be able to solve this problem for you quickly and easily. Your plumber will likely run a camera down the pipes to locate the blockage. From there, they can use a mechanical snake to break up the blockage, or if necessary, they can hydrojet it out. Once it's been cleared, your pipe will go back to working normally and you'll be able to flush your toilet readily. Just don't go back to flushing anything that can potentially create a new blockage!