Municipalities are reminding residents which items can be flushed down a toilet and which cannot.

 Thomas Broecker, operations manager and deputy clerk of Fenton Township, released a statement about the potential for sewer overflows and backups due to people staying home because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 “The COVID-19 virus has created a greater focus on cleaning and sanitizing in the home. It is vitally important that residents avoid flushing products other than toilet paper down a toilet during COVID-19 cleaning, or any other cleaning activity,” according to the press release.

 Products such sanitizing wipes, baby wipes, diapers, feminine hygiene products, tissues or paper towels should never be flushed. They do not break down, which can clog toilets and damage infrastructure. This leads to costly plumbing repairs.

 These products can cause larger problems for the entire sanitary sewer systems, with blockages, sewer main breaks, overflows and backup of sewage into homes.

 “Even wipes marketed as ‘flushable’ are not toilet-friendly, and should never be flushed. Dispose of all non-toilet paper products properly by throwing them in the garbage,” according to the press release.

Staying at home also means more home-cooked meals.

 “Excess grease and oil should never be dumped down the drain or into a toilet. Dump it in a cup, wait for it to cool, and throw it in the trash. Wipe any residual grease from pots and pans with a paper towel and throw that in the trash too. Even a small amount of grease dumped down the drain can build up over time and wreak havoc on not only an individual home’s drainage system, but also the community’s whole sewer system,” according to the release.

 When grease is dumped down the drain, it joins the wastewater, which contains an assortment of chemicals as well as grease dumped by other people. When fatty acids mix with calcium, they bond in a soapy, waxy compound that stick to each other as well as the walls and ceiling of the sewer lines. This creates something officials call a “fatberg.”

 “These fatbergs continue to grow over time, eventually causing blockages in the sewer lines, which could cause water from the sewer to flow back up through your drains and into homes,” according to the release. “Always dispose of excess grease and oil in the trash and never dump it down the drain or into a toilet.”

 Direct any questions regarding these issues to the Fenton Township office at (810) 629-1537.

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