“No matter what the label says, the only items you should flush are human waste and toilet paper,” the city’s sewer department said in a recently completed brochure which talks about things they want residents to know about the sewer system.

The City of Mount Shasta is reminding residents to flush nothing but toilet paper down the toilet – not even wipes that are labeled as “flushable.”

“No matter what the label says, the only items you should flush are human waste and toilet paper,” the city’s sewer department said in a recently completed brochure which talks about things they want residents to know about the sewer system.

Never flush wipes, diapers or feminine hygiene products down the toilet, even if they’re labeled flushable, the sewer department noted. “The collection crew had to just clear a major plug due to wipes on Friday. It affected a business downtown when it backed-up into their basement. The crew is trying to stay on top of the situation by preforming more inspections of the collection system and flush the pipes as needed.” These products do not disintegrate in water as quickly as toilet paper does, and often cause clogs in public sewer mains.

“If wipes can clog large sewer mains, they can definitely clog your home’s much smaller sewer pipes, requiring you to pay a plumber to clear the blockage,” the sewer department noted.

An example of other items that shouldn’t be flushed into the sewer include medications, several of which can cause environmental problems. The sewer department suggests disposing of medications at a prescription takeback event that’s held in the county several times a year.

Other items that should never be flushed down the toilet include condoms, floss, cotton swabs, syringes or trash of any kind, which can also cause clogs or other problems with the city’s systems.

“This costs rate payers money each time service crews must respond. Help keep rates low by only flushing waste and toilet paper,” according to the city.

The brochure also covers prevention of sewer line backup, which have two primary causes: grease and roots.

“Grease and greasy food waste are the most frequent causes of clogs and costly repairs,” said the sewer department. “If cooking grease or oil is poured down the drain or flushed down toilets, even when followed by hot water, it eventually cools down, congeals, builds up and hardens, eventually forming a plug in both home and city sewer lines. Over time, this situation creates backups and overflows.”

The city provided the following tips to avoid grease buildup:

• Scrape grease and food scraps from dishes and utensils into a can or the trash for disposal.

• Wipe greasy pans and dishes with a paper towel and place the towel with food scraps into the trash.

• Don’t put grease down the garbage disposal.

• Dispose of small amounts of cooking oil in tightly sealed containers in the trash

• Collect hot grease in a resealable container and allow to cool before disposing in the trash.

The sewer department suggests planting trees and shrubs away from your home’s sewer service line to prevent them growing toward the pipes in search of a water source.

“The roots probe the sewer line seeking any opening, such as a crack or a poorly sealed joint,” the brochure states. “once the sewer line is penetrated, the roots form a ball and block the line.”

If there is a reduction in flows down the drain, the sewer department suggests having a plumber check the line and clear the blockage if necessary. The brochure notes that cleaning clogged drains isn’t as easy as dumping a chemical drain cleaner down and waiting.

Follow these tips to clean clogged drains:

• Use liquid drain cleaners instead of crystal drain cleaners, which can solidify in pipes.

• Experts say you should never use a chemical drain cleaner to fix a total blockage. You’ll need the aid of a sewer cleaning machine, which clears away the blockage and restores the pipes to a more pristine condition.

• Try preventing the problem altogether by pouring one cup of baking soda down the drain once a month, followed by one cup of white vinegar. Wait an hour and flush with warm water. The combination fizzles away most of the buildup. This typically works for showers, tubs and kitchen sink drains.

Call the Mount Shasta wastewater treatment facility with questions at (530) 926-7535 or email info@mtshastaca.gov. Mount Shasta City Hall can be reached at (530) 926-7510.