Sand down shower drains bad?
January 5, 2006 11:28 AM   Subscribe

Help resolve a household debate: Is it bad for the pipes to let the sand you collect at the beach wash down the shower drain? The question is whether it clogs them up, or actually scours them out (my suspicion). Thanks!
posted by wavejumper to Home & Garden (11 answers total)
It depends on how fast the water goes through the drain, and on whether there are any places the sand will collect because of slower flow. Generally, I would say that if the pipes have enough slope, the sand should all wash away.

What's the alternantive, though - hose yourself off in the yard?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:34 AM on January 5, 2006

hose yourself off in the yard?

If you knew how often my mother met me at the front door with the hose when I was growing up...
posted by jon_kill at 11:35 AM on January 5, 2006

most sinks and showers have a trap that holds a small amount of water and prevents sewer gas from coming up the pipe. The problem you'll run into is that if you don't have enough flow throught the pipe, the sand will collect in the bottom of the trap. I highly doubt you would ever get enough velocity in the pipe for the sand to do any scouring. So, if you have a slow shower head that doesn't put out much water, yes, you could conceiveably clog the pipe. It would take about a pound of sand I'd imagine.
posted by cosmicbandito at 11:40 AM on January 5, 2006

Sand can clog a septic system, at least the pre-filtering parts of it. My sister's had problems with this at her beach house.
posted by TimeFactor at 12:02 PM on January 5, 2006

Clogs, not cleans.
posted by caddis at 1:06 PM on January 5, 2006

Sand is pretty benign to pipes, certainly less bothersome than other solid waste that flows thru a waste pipe. What is bad is clay because it a) sticks to itself and b) can harden when dried out.
posted by Mitheral at 1:21 PM on January 5, 2006

Have you ever noticed how hard it is to get sand out of kids' hair? You'd think you could just shake it all out, but no.
IANAP, but I'd think that sand going through your pipes is just as likely to get caught up in that hair ball down there.
posted by clh at 2:13 PM on January 5, 2006

All that sand is going to go somewhere. You don't know where, but you can be sure it'll be hard to reach. You won't be able to get it out with chemicals. If it was good for pipes you'd see infomercials for **!!PRE-MOEZ PIPE-SANDZ!!** on TV.

When you scour something you don't just pour sand on it, you have to apply force, vigorously and repeatedly. Having sand just fall past won't do it.

If you own the property you can put anything you want down the drains. Sand, gravel, fishing weights, old dog bones, leftover cement, whatever. If it's not your property then don't fark with someone elses plumbing.
posted by Ken McE at 3:37 PM on January 5, 2006

As a marine biologist who probably rinses a cup or two of sand down the drain every day from April-September, from experience I have to say it doesn't do anything.

That said, thinking logically about it, I would expect it to cause the sludge layer in a septic system to build up faster. It wouldn't have as much of an effect on sewers because all the solids get settled out at the treatment plant anyway.
posted by nekton at 4:37 PM on January 5, 2006

From personal experience, I can tell you sand only clogs drains. And it's a bitch to get it out. I've used one of those hose bladders (known as a blowbag) with limited success. Next summer I'm going to try using my power washer.
posted by sixpack at 4:38 PM on January 5, 2006

I concurr with the clogs not cleans evaluation. I grew up at the beach and lived with 5 other surfing room mates in college. Sand clogs.
posted by jonah at 9:38 PM on January 5, 2006

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