To keep you sane and smiling during lockdown here in the UK, GME Group Limited, a Sussex based plumbing and heating specialist, has put together a list of some of the weirdest things ever found in someone’s plumbing system.
Being a plumber isn’t an easy job and can be a very dirty one sometimes – but someone’s got to do it. On many occasions, our plumbers not only have to deal with clogged toilets and dirty pipes in small crawlspaces but they also encounter previous “fixes” by self-proclaimed handymen that can quickly turn an easy fix into an expensive repair.
From baby wipes to banana skins, nappies to nachos, there are plenty of things we know we shouldn’t flush down the toilet or the drain. It really doesn’t take much to block a household drainage system. Our plumbers here at GME Group are well used to finding amusing and frankly, disgusting, things during their working day.
However, what we find is mild compared to what the world’s drain freedom fighters come across. What others have witnessed while carrying out their plumbing services would make your mind boggle and your skin crawl.
Here we reveal the ten strangest things to have been found down drains and sewers around the world.
- False Teeth
Flushed down toilets or washed down the plughole in the bath, hundreds of sets of dentures and false teeth turn up in UK sewers each year. Severn Trent Water Company found so many in 2011 that they set up an internet campaign to reunite members of the public with their falsies for Christmas.
- A Mini
Authorities in London spent over £70 million in 2014 in a bid to free the city’s network of blocked drains. Among their most surprising discoveries was half a Mini, which was found blocking a sewer underneath London’s streets.
In 2017 drainage technicians in London stumbled upon a stomach-churning monstrosity of epic proportions when they were called upon to investigate flooding in the road. A giant “fatberg”, was found to be blocking the entire sewer system. The fatberg, a revolting concoction of congealed fat, hair, baby wipes and rotting food, was over 250 meters (820 ft) long and weighed as much as 19 African elephants. The fatberg was broken up by sewer workers with spades and jet-powered machinery. The Museum of London managed to obtain a chunk of the fatberg for future generations as they felt t was a valuable historical relic.
- A Fax Machine
Scottish water recently retrieved a fax machine from the sewers beneath the streets of Scotland. As well as being a remarkably silly thing to do, the fact that it was down there was even more astonishing as, who on earth uses fax machines anymore?
- An Alien Blob
Construction workers underneath the streets of North Carolina reported finding an alien life-form in the sewer back in 2009. After sending a team of microbiologists to look into the matter, the pulsating “blob” was in fact discovered to be a large colony of worms, which had attached itself to the pipes and was thriving in the dark, dank environment.
Two Canadian plumbers struck gold—literally—while renovating a bathroom in Calgary in 2016. One of the plumbers spotted a shiny, gold object while making repairs on the bathroom’s Jacuzzi tub. The gold bar was later discovered to be worth around $40,000. After an investigation, the plumbers found that the gold bar belonged to the owners of the house. It turns out they had misplaced the expensive item years before.
In Ticino, Switzerland, the streets aren’t paved with gold. But the sewage pipes are packed with it. Researchers recently evaluated 64 municipal wastewater treatment plants throughout the country. They found some surprising things! The small amounts of gold that people lose to toilets and drains were estimated to add up to almost $2 million. Similar research was done in the United States back in 2015, finding a slightly inflated $13 million worth of precious metals in sewage.
- A Cow
When a cow was found in a sewer in Britain, it was pretty docile—being already dead—but there have been cases of live cows found underground. In Fujian Province in China, one farmer spent four days searching for a missing cow. After hearing strange moo-ing noises coming from under the ground, he discovered his cow, alive and well, underneath a manhole leading to the sewer. No one could figure out how the cow got in the sewer, and it still remains a moo-stery.
Alligators in drains are a surprising, but not uncommon, find in the United States. Authorities in Texas found a 20-foot gator in a storm drain in 2007 and last year in Florida, a 7-foot creature managed to get itself trapped in a drain in a residential area. After being rescued by drainage engineers, the alligator was returned safe and well to a nearby sanctuary. In Louisiana, a 3-meter (10 ft) alligator was seen waddling out of a storm drain before taking a nap on a suburban porch.
- A Baby
When a woman in China heard the cries of a baby coming from a drain underneath a toilet, she raised the alarm and rescue services soon turned up. After a two-hour rescue, the baby was extracted—still alive—from the pipe in which it had become stuck. The police soon discovered that the lady that had originally called for help was the actual mother. In turns out, she had gone into labour while on the toilet, gave birth to the baby herself and watched it slip down the drain.
Yes, there are places where it is common to find a snake in your toilet. In Australia, one woman spooked a carpet python in her toilet and got several puncture marks on her buttocks. That snake may have slithered into the toilet to avoid a heatwave, but there are many cases of snakes emerging from sewers via people’s toilets. Often, they are following rats that have also used the loo as an escape route into people’s homes. And it’s not just Australia that has this issue, reports of snakes in toilets have been made everywhere from Texas to Seattle and South Africa to even Southend here in the UK. So maybe check under the seat the next time you feel the call of nature.
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