Aw, Crap.
December 10, 2006 9:24 PM   Subscribe

How likely is it that a woman's disposable razor, accidentally flushed down the toilet, will result in a pipe blockage?

The item in question is your typical small woman's disposable razor (the entire thing, plastic handle + blade) which, somehow, was knocked off the edge of the sink at the exact moment that the toilet was flushing. When told of this I immediately assumed that it would get stuck somewhere and handily catch any subsequent toilet paper, thus causing blockage fairly quickly. She seems to think that it's small enough to go all the way through the pipes without much of a problem.

I'll probably call the super tomorrow (we live in a ground floor apartment FWIW) but hopefully someone can either confirm or deny my fears of swimming in sewage :(
posted by cyrusdogstar to Home & Garden (12 answers total)
I don't think there's a problem. Sewer pipe is usually 4" or 6" in diameter in an apartment building, and the sewer main is even bigger.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 9:35 PM on December 10, 2006

There's at least two U-bends in the toilet outflow pipes to keep water in the bowl and block sewer smells. It's very easy for rigid objects to get trapped there -- a longish object like a razor handle is the perfect candidate.

You can test it by flushing progressively larger wads of toilet paper down and observe for any backflow of toilet paper fragments. And, obviously, don't actually use the toilet until you're sure it's clear.
posted by randomstriker at 9:36 PM on December 10, 2006

Don't worry about it. I had a razor fall down the shower drain once, and nothing bad happened (and the shower drain arguably has a smaller pipe than the toilet.)
posted by fvox13 at 9:40 PM on December 10, 2006

How old is your apartment? Does it have a basement?

I'm going to guess that your razor is half-way to the Hudson by now. If not, a couple more flushes should do it in. That is unless it is one of those ones with the extra large handle.

If it made it out of the bowl then it probably hit a 3.5 or 4 inch sewer line, then connected to the building main and on to city line, so adios razor, unless your apartment has an old gatched up iron sewer line, in which case it was probably due for a good snaking anyway.
posted by Pollomacho at 9:41 PM on December 10, 2006

I'll own up to flushing a toothbrush, and I can state definitively that it did catch and it did clog the pipe. This was in an old New York apartment building, however, and when our landlord came to fix it, it sounded as if the children of previous renters had contributed to the problem by flushing toys down there. YMMV.
posted by anjamu at 9:53 PM on December 10, 2006

It's a crap shoot (no pun intended), hard to say what the %s are, but it may, or may not block the drain depending on luck, pipe size, if anything else is down there, if it went straight or got turned sideways .. etc...
posted by edgeways at 10:14 PM on December 10, 2006

I had fun pouring acid down my tub drain today. What fun watching it hit water and sizzle! At least I can take a shower now without ending up in ankle-deep water.
posted by camworld at 10:18 PM on December 10, 2006

I would say that if it did block the pipe, then it is only because there is a heap of other junk down there. One razor by itself won't block your pipe.
posted by TheOtherGuy at 11:21 PM on December 10, 2006

And acid won't dissolve a plastic razor.
posted by flabdablet at 5:00 AM on December 11, 2006

Thanks for the replies, guys.

The S.O. mentioned that she heard it rattling as it went down, but subsequent flushes haven't caused any such noise, which along with everything else said does imply that it's gone down and out.

The apartment isn't super old, I'd wager 50 years or younger, and it does have a basement (why'd you ask? access to the lower pipes?).

Regarding the toothbrush, I had actually brought that up last night while we were discussing the issue, and she pointed out that since toothbrushes are very long, they'll get trapped in any sort of curve or bend. Razors are much shorter by comparison.

Anyway, it's been flushed many-a-time since the incident, often with toilet paper involved, with no backup yet, so hopefully that's that. Staying home today regardless so I guess I'll find out for sure eventually. Thanks again!
posted by cyrusdogstar at 5:42 AM on December 11, 2006


i'm with steven c. den beste, it's 75%+ not a problem. Poopers have big pipes.


draino isn't acid, it's base.
posted by FauxScot at 8:19 AM on December 11, 2006

It could very well get clogged. I flushed an eyebrow brush down the toilet once and had no problems for months. In fact I had no problems for almost a year - but it was still stuck in there. Paper and stuff would flush around it - but then one day it just wouldn't anymore and I had a huge flood and had to have a plumber snake it out.
posted by chickaboo at 9:00 AM on December 11, 2006

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