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Prevent sewer blockages

Prevent sewer blockages

Learn about what shouldn't go down the drain or toilet.

Everything that gets flushed down the loo or poured down the kitchen sink enters the sewage pipes under your home. Most household pipes are only 10cm wide and it doesn’t take much to clog up them up.

If you tip fat and oil down the sink, it cools down, congeals and hardens on the insides of pipes causing a build-up. No amount of washing-up liquid or hot water will shift it.

Imagine the potential damage caused if wet wipes and sanitary products get caught in this congealed mess. Pipes would block and sewage would back-up into your home or yard, causing an awful mess and costing thousands of dollars to fix.

Prevent blockages in the bathroom

When you use the bathroom, please remember the three Ps: pee, poo and (toilet) paper. These are the only three things that should go down your loo.

For everything else, like wet wipes, sanitary items, toiletries and nappies, put them in the bin.


Many companies market wet wipe products as ‘flushable’. The truth is, wipes contain plastic so don’t break down like toilet paper does. Wipes may flush, but they can get stuck in your pipes causing sewage to back-up into your home. Put all wipes in the bin to be safe.

Want proof that wipes don't break down? This video by Choice tests the length of time it takes toilet paper to break down compared to wet wipes. Watch here

Sanitary products

Tampons and sanitary towels are designed to be compact and discreet, but don't be fooled by their small size. These items don't break down if you flush them, which means they can still clog your drains and force raw sewage back up into your bathroom. Put them in the bin instead.

Prevent blockages in the kitchen

The drain in your kitchen sink is only designed for water. Everything else should go in the bin. Food scraps, oil and cooking fat can all cause major drainage issues.

Here's how you can collect and dispose of your kitchen waste:

Fat, oil and grease

Cooking fat and oils will eventually turn solid and build up in your pipes. It's not surprising that this can block your whole system.

Instead of pouring fats and oils down the sink, collect them in a container (such as a yogurt pot or jam jar) and leave them to cool down.

Once set, you can scoop them out and pop them straight in the bin, or better still, take it to your local council waste centre for recycling (check with your council to see if cooking oils are taken). 

Food scraps

Little pieces of food can stick to congealing fat in the drain and make fatty build ups worse. That's why you should scrape and leftover food from your plate straight into the bin, before you wash them in the sink or dishwasher.

Before you rinse any reusable packaging or containers, remember to wipe them down and remove any food waste. This helps to reduce your risk of blocking the drain.

What to do with liquid waste, engine oil and medicines

Make sure you dispose of liquid waste, engine oil and medicines correctly, or they may cause environmental issues in our streams and rivers. They can also cause major problems at our wastewater treatment plants and be a safety risk to our staff.


Use Sustainability Victoria’s 'Detox Your Home' program to dispose of chemicals, solvents and paint. Click here for details.

Engine oil

Engine oil should be taken to your local tip or recycling site. Contact your local council for details.


Medicines and tablets should be taken to your pharmacist or hospital for safe disposal.

What to do if you have a sewer blockage

Signs of a blockage

Blockages in pipes can be nasty, stopping waste from leaving your property. You may have a blockage if:

  • you find it difficult to flush your toilet
  • your sink or bath empties very slowly
  • you notice a bad smell coming from your drains
  • when wastewater is unable to flow away, coming back up from the toilet or sink

If you think there is a blockage, call your plumber immediately to investigate.

Who is responsible?

Property owners are responsible for the pipes in the homes and the ones connecting to our sewers. We repair and clean the pipes that carry sewage from your street to our treatment plant.

More detail

How we can help?

If you see a burst sewer main or a leaking sewer pipe, please call our 24-7 faults and emergencies line on 1300 361 644.

We'll confirm if the pipe belongs to us, and then repair it as quick as possible.

Check your Overflow Relief Gully

An overflow relief gully (ORG) is a grated drain that acts as a relief valve in the case of a sewer blockage. In other words, it allows sewage to overflow outside. An ORG is required for all modern properties in Australia and is typically located outdoors near the kitchen or laundry. This system prevents sewage from emptying into your home during any blockages (or if the local sewage system is inundated with flood water during any flooding incident). 

For this reason, it is important to check the ORG outside your home regularly.

Learn more