Alligator in river.

Mythbusting Top 2 Plumbing Urban Legends

Halloween is right around the corners and there’s no better time of the year to learn about the spooky things that may be lurking in your sewer…(don’t worry, no plumber has ever spotted a creepy clown skulking in our sewage system.)

Do alligators really live in sewers?

Everyone’s heard this urban legend...massive alligators have found their hunting grounds in some of the United States’ largest cities’ sewer systems. Some say they’re albino as they haven’t seen the sun in years—but is there any truth to this legend?

FACT: Alligators in the sewer system

Turns out, this one is true! Although maybe not in the way we’ve been told. There have yet to be any sighting of a monster albino alligator, but there are reports of alligator rescues in esteemed publications such as The New York Times that span back over 100 years. The truth of this legend is that most commonly, alligators were bought or brought back from Florida as pets—once the baby gators outgrew their cute phase and started looking scarier, they were released into the rivers or escaped on their own.

Do toilets flush the opposite way in Australia?

The first thing we need to explain is the Coriolis force. This force is the cause of this legend, but what exactly is it? From the dictionary definition, the Coriolis effect is “an effect whereby a mass moving in a rotating system experiences a force (the Coriolis force) acting perpendicular to the direction of motion and to the axis of rotation.”

Okay, what? In the simplest terms possible, the Coriolis force relates to the motions of storms, winds, and oceanic currents. The observed effect of the Coriolis force is that air and water move rightward in the Northern hemisphere and leftward in the Southern Hemisphere. Since the discovery of the Coriolis Effect in the early 1800s everyone has wondered one thing. Does it apply to our toilets?

SORT-OF FACT: Water can swirl the opposite direction in Australia

This legend is both true and not true. As it turns out, the Coriolis force does affect the water in your tub and toilet bowl—however, it’s slight. The jets that propel clean water into the toilet bowl as we flush greatly overpower the slight force of the Coriolis effect—possibly due to the fact that there’s such a small amount of water in your toilet.

Two Youtubers put this legend to the test by controlling or eliminating outside interference and filming videos in the Southern and Northern Hemispheres to be played at the same time—check them out and see the Coriolis effect in action here!

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