How far do solid objects travel when the toilet is flushed.

Theres a thread in Mundane about someone accidentally flushing something down the toilet.

It got me curious. Just how far would that flush of water send an object down the pipe? A few feet? A few yards? All the way out in the yard? It seems very unlikely it reaches the main street line with one flush.

Would a 2 story house flush out quicker? You have gravity speeding objects along towards the sewer.

It’s kind of gross to think turds are in the pipes under the house. But, I suspect they are. Your biggest flush of the pipes occurs when a top loading washing machine drains its tub of water.

Any information out there on pipes draining to the street?

Anecdote: A number of years ago the (Madison, WI) city water department was called to my neighborhood because the sewers were overflowing. What they found were the manhole covers in the middle of the street were being displaced by the volume of sewer water upwelling, carrying anything and everything the sewer contained. So we had brown water and turds flowing down the street, into the gutters and being washing into the storm drainage system.

The culprit downstream turned out to be disposable diapers had clogged the main line running down the center of the street. The diapers (several of them) were intact. So someone had flushed used disposable diapers down the toilet. They made it into the system, past our connection to someplace down the street, and stopped, eventually blocking everything. We surmised a couple of families upstream from us as suspects. The diapers had traveled more than a thousand feet in the main sewage line before stopping.

(It was actually much worse than first glance. We all have basements, with basement floor drains connected to the sewer lines. Everyone above the main stoppage – about 30 homes – had raw sewage backed up into our basements.)

Where I live now the city water department demands only human waste, toilet paper and water, be flushed down toilets. Nothing else. Not even Kleenex tissue or disposable wipes. Anything else my clog the sewer lines.

We have a septic system, so everything ends up in a tank about ten feet from the house.

It depends. some times what gets flushed will get stopped at the first fitting other ties it will travel a long way before the damage happens.

As Snnipe 70E has stated it can vary tremendously due to many different factors. Obstructions in the line such as roots, dislodged/misaligned joints in the pipe, etc. can cause some things to get ‘hung up’, and create an impassable blockage.

Assuming a clean and unobstructed pipe, the mass you flush will move only a couple of yards with each flush.

The original toilets were designed with a water tank size containing sufficient water to ensure that a specified mass of fecal matter would be wetted and floated a certain distance with each flush. (I don’t remember the exact specifications, but it was based on the average volume of fecal matter dumped by the average human each time they go. Don’t ask).

This ensured that the fecal matter would eventually float away and clear the pipe.

With the introduction of the low flush toilets, a major problem has now developed.

The low flush toilets have insufficient water flow to wet the mass and keep it moving. As a consequence, there is a gradual build up of solid fecal matter in the pipes, leading to a blockage.

Some municipalities have already found that this has led to huge maintenance costs as blocked pipes need to be cleared. In some cases they need to be dug up and replaced.

The low flush toilets are a classic example of something that seemed like a good idea to somebody at the time, but in practice proving to cause a problem far greater than the one it was supposed to solve.

This happened to a friend of mine. The pipe from her house to the main sewer in the road outside was completely blocked by roots that had entered via the joints.

Any sources of more info for either a) that toilets originally had a volume specification aimed at moving solids along pipes, and not aimed at moving solids out of the toilet bowl itself; or b) that low-flow toilets have caused blockages in sewer mains?

I thought the flushable wipes are specifically designed to not be a problem?

Unintentional joke ftw :slight_smile:

They are designed to be less of a problem, but they do take longer to break down than toilet paper.

This would be such a great Mythbusters show. Use a toilet connected to clear pvc piping that has a typical run length (maybe 500 ft?) to the sewer. Setup cameras to film the pipes after each flush. Measure how far they travel down the pipes.

They could try various things. A brown bomber (not real poop. it is a family show), wipes, a ring, watch etc.

I saw a “how it’s made”-type show that featured a toilet manufacturer (American Standard?)…they use little pouches filled with a soybean based paste to simulate solid waste. Their toilets have to clear a certain number of the pouches with each flush. The guy they interviewed said the pouches were developed by a Japanese toilet manufacturer.

They could definitely show those pouches on Mythbusters!

I once saw a tv show where they flushed hotdogs and golf balls to test the toilets’ performance.

I’ve actually wondered about this issue for a while. Like the OP, I suspect that one flush doesn’t take stuff very far, and it probably takes a few flushes before your turds are out of the house.

IIRC, sanitary sewers have a grade to them, unlike water pipes, which are under pressure.

So unless your deposits are particularly solid and sticky, they’ll probably just flow with the rest of the water all the way to the main, at which point there’s probably something approaching constant flow.

As seen here, anything you flush that can’t make a couple sharp bends won’t even leave the toilet. That’s going to vary based on the toilet design.

This is true, but it’s a very slight grade. Also, there’s a trap where the sewer line enters the home, which adds a bit of resistance.

I watched the video as they ran it along the length of my sewer from the house to the street. The pipes were empty, not a little brown trout to be seen. So, it goes at least to the street at my house.

Oh, the video, it was to check the integrity of the pipes.

STOP…you had me at “soybean based paste.” :smiley: As soon as you said that, I knew it had to have originated in Japan, where soybean paste is a pretty common food item. The Japanese toilet manufacturer you referred to is almost certainly Toto, who also make the ass-washing toilet seats that Ron White seems to enjoy so much. And they do make good toilets; we bought a Toto about a year ago, and while it doesn’t use much water, it clears the bowl very reliably.

No clogs in the main soil pipe yet, at least not the one from our house; who knows what’s happening out under the street. :dubious:

Ah, here’s a soybean paste test video. Disturbingly lifelike. You can purchase your own soy-turds here.

Depends on where the toilet is located. A flush on the 2nd floor will have gravity taking the turd quite a ways in the sewage pipes going away from your house. A toilet from the ground floor may require more flushing to move “it” along. Has to do with the descent slope of the pipes. In my house I’ve never had a clogged toilet that’s on the 2nd floor, but the toilet on the ground floor gets clogged fairly regularly. Same brand of toilets. This problem really started happening with the new low-flow toilets. Never had this problem with my old toilets which used a lot more water. Will probably replace the toilet on the ground floor with a pressure-assisted one.