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Quarantine clogs: You can’t flush everything

Pro-Tec Plumbing & Air designed this white sink with black wall and fixtures

If there’s one lesson learned this year, it’s that quarantine clogs are real – and you can’t flush everything.

Many Southwest Florida residents are heeding advice of health officials and limiting their time outside of the home.

They are restricting non-essential trips, as evidenced by fewer cars on the road.

They aren’t traveling out of town, as evidenced by the airport’s low passenger counts.

They aren’t eating out, as evidenced by empty tables at restaurants.

Unfortunately, all of this additional time at home is having unintended consequences. Homeowners are unknowingly causing problems to their plumbing system.

In the kitchen, people are cooking more meals at home. That means they are tossing more food waste into garbage disposals and washing it down the drain.

When toilet paper is in short supply, some people improvise with paper towels and wet wipes.

Discovering Quarantine Clogs

Pro-Tec Plumbing first noted an increase in residential service calls in March and April of 2020. That’s right as COVID-19 hit and Florida’s Safer at Home order took effect. The “quarantine clog,” as it’s called, is real.

Below are the four areas responsible for the most residential service calls since COVID-19 hit:


Scrape excess food into the trash can prior to loading plates, bowls and silverware. Many dishwashers drain directly into plumbing lines below a sink. That means chunks of food that don’t easily dissolve, like meat or fat, head directly into plumbing lines.

Garbage disposal

Disposals are perfect for softer foods, like fruits, vegetables and desserts. Avoid placing coffee grounds, pasta noodles, banana and orange peels, bones, eggshells and other hard foods into the disposals. Also, cooking oils and grease can solidify as their temperature declines, essentially creating a plug inside pipes.


Toilet paper is designed and manufactured to dissolve quickly. Baby wipes, disinfecting wipes and feminine hygiene products do not have the same chemical properties and should never be flushed down the toilet. Toilet paper is no longer in short supply or being rationed, but many people have stuck with baby wipes. Months later, Pro-Tec continues receiving service calls related to clogged toilets.


Hair naturally will fall out while taking a shower. During the pandemic, many people began washing their pets at home instead of visiting a groomer. Place a cover over the drain to collect hair, especially if you have long hair or wash pets indoors. Hair does not quickly disintegrate, and can act similar to a fishing net inside the plumbing system.

The diameter for most household toilet drain pipes is 3 inches. Shower drain pipes are 2 inches wide. Dishwasher drain pipes often are five-eighths of an inch. Plumbing systems are designed to transport liquids to wastewater treatment plants. Many homeowners may never experience any problems with food waste and wipes clogging drains. When you do, however, it may cost you several hundred dollars for something that could have been avoided by remembering one phrase – when in doubt, throw it out.

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