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Direct Line Insurance : Cosmetics, medication and plastics blocking UK pipes

10/08/2021 | 10:32am EST
Cosmetics, medication and plastics blocking UK pipes
4min read
08 Oct 2021
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· Over half of Brits (59 per cent) admit to deliberately using drainage system as a bin

· A quarter of Brits (25 per cent) have experienced household damage from a burst pipe

· Plumbers go to eight homes a month for avoidable blocked pipes

· Wet wipes (32 per cent) are most common cause of blocked pipes in UK

New research from Direct Line Home Insurance1 reveals that 70 per cent of Brits are putting extra unnecessary pressure on their pipe systems. Some 37 million people admit to flushing items they shouldn't down sinks and drains at home, including medication and paint, with 31 million (59 per cent) doing so on purpose.

Items such as hand towels, cosmetics, children's toys, toilet air fresheners and plant matter have been found by plumbers called out to blocked pipes. Wet wipes top the table when it comes to the most common causes of drain issues with a third (32 per cent) due to these. Sanitary products (14 per cent) and excessive toilet roll (10 per cent) are also common causes of blockages.

Disposing these types of items down toilets or sinks can be extremely risky as a quarter of Brits (25 per cent) have only found out the damage it has done when their pipe finally bursts. Disposing items down the sink is incredibly common and plumbers2 estimate they are called out eight times a month on average to deal with an avoidable blocked or burst pipe. With the £55 to £79 average callout charge, this could be a costly mistake for homeowners.

It isn't just the initial plumber call out cost either. Blocked or burst pipes can cause serious, expensive damage to properties. They can lead to serious problems, over a third (37 per cent) have experienced damage to the ceiling, followed by damage to floors or carpets (34 per cent), internal flooding (27 per cent), external flooding (25 per cent) and damage to the electrics (18 per cent).

The items most flushed down the drainage system include grease, fat or oils (49 per cent), food scraps (33 per cent), coffee grounds (29 per cent), paint and white spirits (27 per cent) or medication (21 per cent). Grease or oils will harden and create a blockage, while paint coats the inside of pipes meaning they shrink and therefore stop other items being able to pass down.

Table one: Items most common to cause a blocked pipe


Percentage of blocked pipes caused by this

Wet wipes

32 per cent

Sanitary products

14 per cent

Excess toilet roll

10 per cent

Fat and grease

Nine per cent


Eight per cent

Food waste

Eight per cent

Hand towels

Six per cent


Five per cent


Three per cent


Five per cent

Source: Direct Line Home Insurance 2021

Dan Simson, Head of Direct Line Home Insurance, said: "Blocked drainage can be extremely inconvenient and can lead to some really severe issues in your home. We often don't think about the repercussions of dropping items, especially liquid, down our sinks but they can cause serious and potentially costly issues.

"Most of the items highlighted in our research are things we are probably all guilty of throwing down the toilet or sink at some point in our lives, which is why we're highlighting to people to be more aware of the issues they can cause and take precautions to limit the damage. Knowing your pipes and how to shut off the water system should you need to will save further harm while you get in touch with a professional to fix it."

The top tips to avoid blocked and burst pipes are:

· Protect drains: Use drain protectors to place over the plughole in your sink, bath or shower. This will catch most things, such as hair, which could cause a blockage

· Know your pipes: Familiarise yourself with your pipe system and read advice on how to care for it. Be aware of how to switch of the water supply in case you ever need to

· Use responsibly: Do not put too many items down sinks or toilets within your home. Comb hair before getting in the shower and scrape plates into food waste or compost before rinsing them

· Maintain: Regularly use unblocking treatments to keep your pipe system flowing. Be sure to always follow the instructions

For more information please visit www.directline.com/home-cover.


Notes to Editors

1 Research conducted by Opinium among a nationally representative sample of 2,001 adults between 6th to 9th July 2021

2 Phone research commissioned amongst 100 plumbers in June 2021

For further information please contact:

Chelsey Wheeler
PR manager - Direct Line

Tel: 01651 832 095

Email: [email protected]

Samantha Stewart

Citigate Dewe Rogerson

Tel: 0207 025 6497

Email: [email protected]

Direct Line

Started in 1985, Direct Line became the first UK insurance company to use the telephone as its main channel of communication. It provides motor, home, travel, and pet insurance cover direct to customers by phone or on-line.

Direct Line general insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England and Wales No 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Direct Line and UK Insurance limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc.

Customers can find out more about Direct Line products or get a quote by calling 0345 246 3761 or visiting www.directline.com/car-cover


Direct Line Insurance Group plc published this content on 08 October 2021 and is solely responsible for the information contained therein. Distributed by Public, unedited and unaltered, on 08 October 2021 14:31:03 UTC.

© Publicnow 2021
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