How to protect your pipes and plumbing systems during Covid-19 coronavirus lockdown

Covid-19 coronavirus is forcing countries across the world to implement various stages of self-isolation and lockdown
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With countries across the world entering various stages of lockdown in an attempt to control the spread of Covid-19 coronavirus, many people are going to find themselves spending extended periods of time in their homes.

This presents a number of challenges, some obvious and some less so. Photos and videos of empty supermarkets have become commonplace over the past few weeks as people rush out to buy supplies ahead of a potential isolation period.

There are understandable fears surrounding the effects of isolation on the elderly and those with underlying health issues, who are most at risk from Covid-19. Subsequently, these ate the people who could find themselves in lockdown for a much longer timeframe than the rest of the population.

One aspect that hasn’t been considered much is the impact that a Covid-19 coronavirus lockdown could have on the critical systems that keep homes working. What will happen for example if you are on day four of a 14 day lockdown and your water supply pipe develops a major fault?

Here’s how you can help to protect pipes and plumbing systems during a Covid-19 coronavirus lockdown.

Don’t flush wet wipes down the toilet

If you’re in self-isolation or lockdown for any period of time, the last thing you need is a blocked toilet. This is a problem that has begun effecting cities in New Zealand with reported increases in toilet, pipe and sewer blockages due to residents using more cleaning wipes as a precaution against Covid-19.

After using anti-bacterial wipes to clean their hands, New Zealanders are then flushing these wipes down the toilet. The problem of materials blocking toilets will only get worse if people are forced to use paper towels or tissues in lieu of toilet paper due to supply shortages caused by panic buying and stockpiling.

Anything that isn’t toilet paper cannot be broken down by toilet systems. When these materials are flushed away, they run the risk of blocking pipes and causing massive issues at water treatment works.

Some water and sewerage companies have reported finding congealed baby wipes that have built up into blockages the size of a family car.

Instead of flushing anti-bacterial wipes, paper towels and other foreign objects away down the toilet, you should seal them in a bag and dispose of them in the same way as you would general rubbish.

Watch what you do with food waste

If you’re spending more time at home through lockdown, then you could find yourself cooking a lot more than you normally do. If this is the case, then make sure you are disposing any food waste in the correct manner – and that isn’t down the sink.

When you pour fats, oils and greases down the plughole then you are risking causing real damage to your kitchen pipelines. Virtually anything which you cook with – meat fats, lard, cooking oil, butter, milk, other dairy products – will clog pipes.

As these greasy substances build up, they have much the same effect on your kitchen systems as wet wipes and paper towels do in the bathroom.

Instead, you should dispose of grease via your bin. To do this, let it cool and solidify first before scraping it into a secure and sealable container, such as an empty jar. You then throw the jar in with your rubbish.

As for food and vegetable scraps, then why not consider composting?

There probably hasn’t been a better time to learn about the benefits of becoming self-sufficient through your own garden than when confined to your own home – here is a comprehensive guide for making compost at home.

Never wash away medication

As people try to battle the effects of coronavirus, households might find themselves with a surplus of medicines which they purchase, only to discover it isn’t actually useful. Or you might have decided to clear out your medicine cupboard and found lots of out-of-date medication.

If you’ve got medication that you wish to dispose of, never throw it down a sink or toilet. When flushed away, medicines contaminate the environment by entering waterways and soils. They can cause severe damage to fish, other animals and even human beings that they come into contact with.

Most medicines cannot be completely removed by wastewater treatment works. The only safe way to dispose of medication which ensures that it won’t be consumed by people who it hasn’t been prescribed to as by throwing it out with the rubbish.

What to do if you need to repair a damaged pipe

Depending on the severity of the lockdown or isolation policy brought about by coronavirus, it may become difficult to hire a plumber to carry out emergency repairs to leaking pipes.

Maintaining a safe water supply is vital in the fight against Covid-19 for obvious health reasons, so fixing any damaged pipework systems becomes a matter of urgency.

If you cannot source a qualified tradesman to carry out the work, then you can turn to a pipe repair kit. These kits contain all the equipment needed to permanently repair broken pipes in less than 30 minutes without the need for any training – simply follow the instructions provided.

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