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Old 08-17-2013, 09:25 PM   #61
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For the record, city waste-water treatment plants are designed with the capability to digest (biodegrade) plant oils and hydrocarbons such as motor oil, etc.
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Old 08-17-2013, 09:31 PM   #62
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For the record, city waste-water treatment plants are designed with the capability to digest (biodegrade) plant oils and hydrocarbons such as motor oil, etc.
There's a significant cost to process the oils/lipids, get rid of the solids, etc, right? Many communities have well-funded public awareness programs to discourage people from putting oils, fats, and lard down the drain. And people who put hydrocarbons into the sewer should be prosecuted.

I wouldn't balk at putting a teaspoon of oil into a trap to keep the water from evaporating. But I do wonder why people dump a pound of meat trimmings down the drain, running the garbage disposal for 2 minutes to wash it down. The trash can is right there, it takes less time just to throw it in, and you're not putting a burden on the city water treatment system and wasting 5 gallons of water (praying it gets to the street and doesn't clog up your sewer pipe.) Are people that worried about how their trash might smell?
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Old 08-17-2013, 10:17 PM   #63
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There's a significant cost to process the oils/lipids, get rid of the solids, etc, right? Many communities have well-funded public awareness programs to discourage people from putting oils, fats, and lard down the drain. And people who put hydrocarbons into the sewer should be prosecuted.

I wouldn't balk at putting a teaspoon of oil into a trap to keep the water from evaporating. But I do wonder why people dump a pound of meat trimmings down the drain, running the garbage disposal for 2 minutes to wash it down. The trash can is right there, it takes less time just to throw it in, and you're not putting a burden on the city water treatment system and wasting 5 gallons of water (praying it gets to the street and doesn't clog up your sewer pipe.) Are people that worried about how their trash might smell?
Agree, the systems are loaded with stuff other than fecal matter. Blame the citizens who pay the sewage fees. But the "bugs" they use in treatment plants really like hydrocarbon chains!

There are LOTS of combined sewer systems in the U.S. cities (storm water and sewage) and the storm water loading always contains road oil from cars, etc. New systems are usually separate. Municipal treatment plant solids are frequently used as clean fill these days.

You should see what happens in Los Angeles when a big rain overflows the treatment plants .....raw sewage into the beach areas.

Be glad we have city sewers. Spend some time in Jakarta, Indonesia, a town of 6 million that still has sewage canals running through the town.
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Old 08-17-2013, 11:26 PM   #64
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For the record, city waste-water treatment plants are designed with the capability to digest (biodegrade) plant oils and hydrocarbons such as motor oil, etc.
No they're really not, That's my biz. I design those plants and oils have to be taken out. The bugs that digest the sewage under aerobic conditions and break it down get harmed by grease and oil. If some idiot pours a quart of oil down the toilet it can screw up the entire plant.

Don't confuse a sewage plant with the bacteria that were recently developed to break down oil spills in the ocean. Totally different bugs and situation.

And combined sewers are in the minority. Only in bigger older cities that haven't completely separated storm systems from just sanitary. EPA hates them and has been funding their elimination for many years. Most cities have non combined sewers. Pretty soon they will be very rare.
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Old 08-17-2013, 11:40 PM   #65
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Agree, the systems are loaded with stuff other than fecal matter. Blame the citizens who pay the sewage fees. But the "bugs" they use in treatment plants really like hydrocarbon chains!

There are LOTS of combined sewer systems in the U.S. cities (storm water and sewage) and the storm water loading always contains road oil from cars, etc. New systems are usually separate. Municipal treatment plant solids are frequently used as clean fill these days.
No no no. Sludge waste cannot and never has been used as "clean fill" in the US ! That would get prison time for someone. With a special permit you can have it slice injected into farm soil or composted with under high temp and mixed with soil and other matter for landscaping use. Solid waste sludge to clean fill.... Absolutely not.
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Old 08-23-2013, 01:39 AM   #66
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Be glad we have city sewers. Spend some time in Jakarta, Indonesia, a town of 6 million that still has sewage canals running through the town.
I'm looking out my window at some now! Central Jakarta=10 million; Greater Jakarta=28 million
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Old 08-23-2013, 08:07 AM   #67
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True, but it seems hard to believe that a few cups of vegetable oil would be worse than what would normally be put into the system in a few months (salad dressings, bacon grease, chicken fat/grease, etc.).
Yes, but it all adds up. Have you heard about the fatberger in the London sewer? (Warning: this is somewhat gross)

Fatberg: Watch the moment engineers discover Britain's biggest ever fat ball stuck to top of London sewer - Mirror Online
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Old 08-23-2013, 10:38 AM   #68
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I found that a checklist is a good idea. I "check" each item off before we leave & carry the list with me (online). That prevents me from worrying if I did do something or not.

We have left for 6 weeks at a time with no issues. Having someone reliable & trustworty come over every so often gives us peace of mind. If you're asking them to do a number of things, leave them a checklist too.
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Old 08-23-2013, 10:59 AM   #69
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I found that a checklist is a good idea. I "check" each item off before we leave & carry the list with me (online). That prevents me from worrying if I did do something or not.

We have left for 6 weeks at a time with no issues. Having someone reliable & trustworty come over every so often gives us peace of mind. If you're asking them to do a number of things, leave them a checklist too.
Good idea on the checklist. I need something to remind myself, But I do have a set of instructions with photos for DW when she spends time at the condo with her friends but without me.
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Old 08-23-2013, 12:41 PM   #70
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Old 08-23-2013, 04:34 PM   #71
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True, but it seems hard to believe that a few cups of vegetable oil would be worse than what would normally be put into the system in a few months (salad dressings, bacon grease, chicken fat/grease, etc.).
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Yes, but it all adds up. ...
Yes, but I think that pb4uski's point is - it isn't adding to it. A cup of oil over the vacation time could be less than the amount of oil an active family would send down the drains if they were home instead. It replaces all the pots/pans/dish grease that ends up in the system.

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Old 08-23-2013, 04:57 PM   #72
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No they're really not, That's my biz. I design those plants and oils have to be taken out. The bugs that digest the sewage under aerobic conditions and break it down get harmed by grease and oil. If some idiot pours a quart of oil down the toilet it can screw up the entire plant.
Alright, so no vegetable oil in the traps. No problem. How about Imoldernu's suggestion about anti-freeze? Better or worse? I've put together a list of things to do this year for our first snowbird winter, but the solution to the toilets and traps hasn't been made clear. What's the best way to deal with this?
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Old 08-23-2013, 06:10 PM   #73
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We get someone to check the toilets and run the water taps for a few minutes when we leave for an extended period. And, I would ask a neighbor to pick up any advertising left on your doorstep or in the front of the house.

Your insurance may not pay any damages if you left the house and didn't make provisions to insure its safety. And, a few years ago I lived an a neighborhood where thiefs watched houses and if the day's ad brochures hadn't been picked up they woud ring the doorbell and if no one answered they would take the time to go through all the rooms stealing anything of value. The nicer the neighborhood, the easier it can happen. Good luck, I'd get a house sitter if needed.
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Old 08-24-2013, 08:45 AM   #74
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And, a few years ago I lived an a neighborhood where thiefs watched houses and if the day's ad brochures hadn't been picked up they woud ring the doorbell and if no one answered they would take the time to go through all the rooms stealing anything of value. The nicer the neighborhood, the easier it can happen. Good luck, I'd get a house sitter if needed.
My garage is rear entry, and I often grab the mail on the way by in the car, so sometimes flyers (or, egads, new yellow pages) will lay on the front porch for a while. Some thief thinking I'm not home would get a nice .40cal surprise...
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Old 08-24-2013, 09:22 AM   #75
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Alright, so no vegetable oil in the traps. No problem. How about Imoldernu's suggestion about anti-freeze? Better or worse? I've put together a list of things to do this year for our first snowbird winter, but the solution to the toilets and traps hasn't been made clear. What's the best way to deal with this?
RV antifreeze, the pink stuff you can get in Wallymart, is 40% Propylene Glycol and has minimal health hazards per the MSDS. OK to send it down the drain.
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Old 08-24-2013, 10:57 PM   #76
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We moved back into our house last year after extensive renovations. As we plan on routinely being gone for 2-3 months we allowed for this in the technology portion of the remodel.

We have a robust alarm system with an independent cctv that notifies us, (and our nearby neighbor when we are gone) via sms. CCTV records in a secure onsite location and also offsite. We can view from our smartphone/iPad, etc. HVAC is monitored by a network thermostat that also reports in. We can monitor/alter/arm all systems from afar. Lights on automatic as needed. A 'Beware of Dog' sign near the front door works wonders also.

I would never leave the water main on for any reason, too many things can happen. A watchful neighbor cannot be over-emphasized. Mail in our area can only be held for 1 month by the USPS, so when overseas we forward everything to a mail service that allows us to view items online sent first class online. Not that expensive actually, and we minimize normal mail anyway.

Goes without saying that all high theft items like jewelry go to the safe deposit box. We sometimes also ask someone to take a look now and then also, even though we are in a low risk area. There are still risks, but it is only stuff and we do not intend to be slaves to the house.
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Old 08-28-2013, 07:25 AM   #77
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I snow bird so I have one house to winterize and one to summarize. First I hate oil in the toilet, in Florida it turns black and makes a mess. Instead I use press and seal and blue masking tape on sink drains and overflows. If the drains get dry, roaches have an expressway into your house.

I turn most breakers off at the box. I cut the red knob off the garage door opener so someone doesn't open the door with a coat hanger. I now put a padlock through the garage door track. Just in case someone gets in the house, makes it harder to unload the house.

Turn off water, set alarm, and I can stay away for years.
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Old 08-28-2013, 11:20 PM   #78
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I snow bird so I have one house to winterize and one to summarize. First I hate oil in the toilet, in Florida it turns black and makes a mess. Instead I use press and seal and blue masking tape on sink drains and overflows. If the drains get dry, roaches have an expressway into your house.

I turn most breakers off at the box. I cut the red knob off the garage door opener so someone doesn't open the door with a coat hanger. I now put a padlock through the garage door track. Just in case someone gets in the house, makes it harder to unload the house.

Turn off water, set alarm, and I can stay away for years.
Does the door have a lock, with a bar that goes over to the track. Imagine you had no garage door opener, then how would you lock the door? If there is a bar one could drill a hole in it and put a pad lock there, that would mean the door would not open since the bar could not retract.
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Old 08-29-2013, 06:56 AM   #79
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Does the door have a lock, with a bar that goes over to the track. Imagine you had no garage door opener, then how would you lock the door? If there is a bar one could drill a hole in it and put a pad lock there, that would mean the door would not open since the bar could not retract.
My door does have the slide lock, but it's too easy to remove with just two small screws. With a padlock through the track, it makes it harder to open. But like anything else nothing is fool proof.

One time in another house my security system went off in a storm, I had a friend installing siding, when it started to rain he was scrambling to finish. The police pulled up and told him to come down the ladder he refused and after a few minuets the cops drove off. What a nice feeling that was.
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A Phoenix tale of woe
Old 09-15-2013, 07:37 PM   #80
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A Phoenix tale of woe

We have a condo in Phoenix that can sit empty for several months. We noticed that the toilets got dry, but didn't think that much about it - until we had a rat come up the toilet! He chewed the bottom of the seat to get out. When we got there and discovered this, we flushed several times to get water back in. DH sat down (guys, you may want to stop reading here) and felt something bump him in a sensitive area - he jumped up (yes, screaming!) and there was another rat in the bowl. He was a little worse for wear, and more flushes got rid of him.

We found out (after much research) that when there's a toilet on the first story, the drain pipe doesn't slope much - and when it's dry, it's a highway to your house! Ever since then, we use a combination of saran wrap and mineral oil. We pour just enough mineral oil to cover the surface of the water. I don't know if that's any better or worse than vegetable oil. It does work to maintain the water level, though.

Getting rid of the first rat was another story....

Also - if you stop the newspaper, make sure that you have a neighbor watching out for deliveries. We stopped our paper for 10 days a couple of months ago, and it was delivered 6 out of the 10 days. The next trip we just cancelled it (it wasn't our first problem with vacation deliveries.)
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