rubber troubles
August 5, 2014 6:52 AM   Subscribe

Flushed condom, borrowed apartment, bad plumbing, now what?

Someone great that I care very much about did something stupid.

I'm apartment-sitting, where it was made clear to me that nothing but human waste and TP should be flushed. We had sex (twice) using non-latex polyurethane condoms. I let him dispose of them. He flushed them. Fuck fuck fuck.

I have this apartment for a few more weeks. I definitely do not want the homeowner finding out about this, now or ever. I don't know how to handle it. Do I call the super? A plumber? This will be the most awkward conversation ever - while I'm old enough to be having sex, I'm young enough for all of these people to think of me as their daughter - and I'm a little panicked.

The toilet is not clogged (yet?); nothing appears to be draining unusually. This happened at night on the sixth floor of a 7-story apartment building. The apartment has definitely had plumbing issues in the past. I'd really like to minimize the amount I spend, but also, I want to do everything I can to avoid having the apartment owner find this a month from now. It's a reasonably old building.
posted by anonymous to Home & Garden (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If the plumbing were bad enough that two condoms were enough to screw it all up, I think it'd have done so by now. Which means that, since it hasn't, I doubt it will.

I will let those better acquainted with plumbing speak up, but I strongly doubt that two condoms alone will cause a problem, and suspect you should be fine.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:56 AM on August 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

If the toilet isn't clogged, don't worry about it. The condom is now safely with all the waste from all the other apartments, including all the many condoms flushed by everyone else. It's not suddenly going to come back up and clog things.

If you have sex again, tell the dude not to flush his condom. Other than that, be glad the toilet didn't clog and let it go.
posted by bondcliff at 6:56 AM on August 5, 2014 [14 favorites]

You're fine. Have him throw them in the trash going forward.
posted by kbanas at 6:59 AM on August 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

The embarrassing part about flushed-condom-behavior (optional, at the discretion of the condom) is when they kinda linger and you don't notice and just walk away for the next one to have a hey-who's-been-here moment. Happens a lot in European toilets that lack the vortex of definity feature.

Condoms only clog plumbing that's already a fraction of an inch from backing up anyway.
posted by Namlit at 7:04 AM on August 5, 2014

(Also, even if something does happen -- in situations like this is when old people suddenly come through and reveal to you how cool they are. They were having sex at age 17-22, or however old you are, too. Don't worry. If you're older than that, definitely don't worry).
posted by amaire at 7:05 AM on August 5, 2014

You are fine. If you start having draining/clogging problems then call a plumber, but otherwise just treat it as a lucky break and move on.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:06 AM on August 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

This may or may not be helpful/accurate but is it possible that you are in a moral panic over having sex? You feel guilty about it and are panicking that someone will find out so your anxious brain is inventing a catastrophic scenario where you have to replace all the plumbing? I've been there before (for me it was that I was certain I was catching STI's, was pregnant, etc. . . ). Take a step back.. . .you did nothing wrong! Your body. You are allowed to have sex. If someone finds out you had sex... then they can deal with it.

I seriously doubt that two condoms will have an effect on the plumbing. I assume the homeowners don't have a habit of inspecting their own sewage, so I think you're in the clear anyways.
posted by winterportage at 7:07 AM on August 5, 2014 [4 favorites]

You are fine. It was stupid, you can (and should) insist that he never do it again, but here's how this will likely play out (I live in a far smaller building with the same issues): The 2 condoms may have jammed something in the works farther down the building's pipes. These will sit there until other people make similar mistakes (generally honest, like a tampon or a soiled paper towel, sometimes egregious like a maxipad or a kid's toy or a pair of underwear (yes, underwear -- who does this?) and collectively the building's pipes will clog and there will be a backup. In our building, this happens in the basement, and we get a flood around the washing machines. In other buildings it will probably manifest in other places, but it is unlikely that it will show up in your apartment, especially if you're not on the ground floor. When this happens, they send a plumber, he snakes the main drain line, finds all the problem stuff, and management sends out an angry letter to everyone, because even if all the problems come from Sam Underpantsflusher in 4C, there's no way to know the source once it reaches the point of systemic problems.
posted by Mchelly at 7:38 AM on August 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

General de-clogging method if it clogs: 1-cup (more if it's seriously clogged) of dishwashing detergent or liquid handsoap into the toilet bowl. Let the detergent sit for 30+ minutes undisturbed until the next necessary flush. If you flush too early, you'll just get bubbles. So, be patient, let gravity grease the passage way. Next flush will clear the clog, guaranteed. Repeat if necessary, but it's the waiting time that is most important.

You may also use a plunger with this method, but it's not necessary or necessarily helpful, and it's the waiting that is key. A plunger will create bubbles but do very little else if you aren't patient and let gravity do the work. What a plunger does do, after the period of waiting, is clear the clog so that you can flush again with confidence.

However, I've flushed (after waiting) without using the plunger first, and it's also worked. Depends on previous level of "damage", if you know what I mean.
posted by RaRa-SpaceRobot at 7:42 AM on August 5, 2014 [3 favorites]

You might also use the detergent trick now to ease your mind, though I agree with others that two condoms is unlikely to create a clog now or in the future.
posted by RaRa-SpaceRobot at 7:47 AM on August 5, 2014

If the rubbers were going to plug the drains, they would have done so by now. You're fine.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:50 AM on August 5, 2014

bondcliff: "If the toilet isn't clogged, don't worry about it. The condom is now safely with all the waste from all the other apartments, including all the many condoms flushed by everyone else. It's not suddenly going to come back up and clog things. "

Yep. The condoms have been successfully flushed from the apartment toilet and are no longer traceable to you. I don't know what kind of dire scare-tactic toilet warnings you got from the owner, but they've got you seriously irrationally spooked.
posted by desuetude at 8:23 AM on August 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Like everyone says, it's probably fine. (However you have a sacred duty to confess if the owners ever discover a condom in the pipes, lest they suspect infidelity at home.)

But just to double-check; I think we're all assuming modern plumbing, like in the US, where all the drain pipes are wide. There's another kind of plumbing where you might have a problem. Narrow drain pipes. I've seen it in old European apartments where plumbing was added later, but only finger-thick drain pipes. Narrower than a turd. The solution (in French) is a sanibroyeur, sort of a garbage-disposall for toilets. It grinds and chops whatever soft materials are flushed before draining out. It is easily clogged. You'd know if you have one, you hear it grinding and churning after every flush. If the apartment has one of those (and you would immediately know, no surprises), it might still be OK, but you might want to call a plumber.
posted by Nelson at 8:32 AM on August 5, 2014

Wow, you're way over freaking out about this. People massively overstate the "omg condoms will clog pipes don't flush them!" thing. I think it's grown mostly out of that bit about them not reliably flushing and being embarrassingly left in the bowl, and other weird shame stuff. not some actual cut and dry thing of it being a real issue with clogging to worry about.

The only places i'd worry about it are places where they tell you not to flush TP.

I think you're really overestimating how big of a deal this is.
posted by emptythought at 5:01 PM on August 5, 2014

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