Thursday, 07 January 2016 12:10

Fat flushing Birmingham emerges as top UK drain offender for sewer blocking ways

A study of 1,101 UK adults has highlight the nation's bad flushing habits, and the worst cities for them. Birmingham came out on top, with 87% flushing items deemed unsuitable for drainage systems, including 42% swilling sewer clogging fats, oils and greases down the plughole, while Edinburgh flushed the most dental floss. Although Glasgow has the best British record when it comes to looking after their plumbing, 22% of its citizens flush cigarette butts down the toilet.

drain fat1The study from drainage specialist, Lanes Group, hopes to bust some common myths about what's suitable to put down our drains - with their advice being, if it's not one of the three Ps (toilet paper, pee or poo) or water, then it shouldn't be going near your toilet or plughole. And it reveals that residents throughout the length and breadth of the UK are not alone in thinking it's fine to flush the odd 'flushable' wipe, or pour the leftover fat from your roasting tray down the sink.

Of the items the people of Birmingham are putting down the drain, 44% have flushed 'flushable' wipes, which despite their labelling, are in fact incompatible with drains. With a further quarter (27%) disposing of cotton pads, balls or buds, and one in five flushing condoms.

Edinburgh came in second place, with 80% of respondents flushing inappropriate items, with more than a fifth having flushed dental floss, the highest percentage in the UK.

Other cities which made the top five worst drainage hotspots included London, where more than three quarters (78%) of people have put unfriendly items down their drains, this was closely followed by Leeds (75%) and Cardiff (73%).

On a more positive note, Glasgow came out as the nation's most drain-friendly city. However, despite this seemingly honourable title, more than half (56%) of Glaswegians still have flushed items which are known to cause drain blockages.

Overall, the Lanes Group are concerned that on average across the nation a third (34%) of UK adults flush 'flushable' wipes, with more than one in five (22%) putting oil, fat or grease down the drain, and 12% disposing of cigarette butts in the toilet.

Other peculiar items the public have left their drainage to deal with, included plasters (9%), nappies (3%) and even cat litter (2%).

When asked how much we know about the state of national drainage systems, 86% of us had no idea that up to £15 million is spent clearing blocked drains in the UK every year. As well as this, 81% did not realise that up to three quarters of the nation's 200,000 yearly sewer blockages are caused by fat, oils and grease being poured down drains.

Commenting on the study, Michelle Ringland, head of marketing at Lanes Group, said: "There are many misconceptions about which items we can and cannot put down our drains. Even if you just pour a bit of cooking fat down the sink, or flush a face wipe once in awhile, this will all add up to causing a drain blockage in your area.

"The results of the study have been quite concerning, with more than 3,000 UK homes flooded each year as a result of blocked sewers, it seems the public need to get a lot better clued up on good drainage practice, and the consequences of failing to take care of our drains. Our advice would be, when in doubt, always bin the item accordingly rather than heading straight for the sink or toilet."

To explore a map of the UK's worst drainage hotspots and which unsuitable items we're flushing, visit: