Yes, we know what the package says, but don’t flush those wipes!
Recent shortages in personal supplies have made it even more urgent that we spread the word on this: Homeowners, don’t flush any wipes down your toilets!
“Most of the wipes state that they’re OK for flushing — and they’re not,” said Troy Koopman, general manager of Horizon Plumbing. “We’re constantly dealing with pipe blockages in brand new homes because people are using wipes and flushing them. The even bigger issue is that the wipes cause big problems at the water district plant, where they clog up the plant’s processes.”
Flushed Once, Around Forever
At issue are wipes of all kinds: disinfectant wipes, cleaning wipes, baby wipes, facial or cosmetic wipes, toilet bowl scrub pads, paper towels, and even those “personal hygiene” wipes that claim to be flushable. The problem is that all these items are designed to be sturdier than toilet paper and are constructed from plastic fibers that don’t break down like paper. They may indeed flush easily – but in the intricate pathways of traps and pipes beyond your drain opening, they can get trapped anywhere, building up an impenetrable blockage over time.
The most minor results are unpleasant cleanups and repairs that can easily cost hundreds of dollars. More serious damage can include ruined sewage pumps that cost thousands of dollars to replace. The problem also affects septic systems, requiring them to need to be pumped out more frequently, which means another unnecessary expense for homeowners
The Public Health Risk
However, the problem extends beyond the bounds of your property. The majority of urban sewage collection systems depend on gravity and a strong flow of water to effectively move waste and biodegradable toilet paper.
Wipes cause problems even in the larger sewage pipes, where their sheer numbers take advantage of the miles-long journey to tangle together and make large clumps that continue to resist breakdown. Even partial blockages can cause overflows at wastewater treatment plants; many such spills end up in lakes, rivers and oceans where they have wide-ranging impacts on public health and the environment.
Such problems are reported daily at treatment plants around the country.
So remember, to avoid expensive repairs while doing your part to minimize public-health risks, your toilets should be used for only the Three P’s: Pee, Poop and (toilet) Paper.
If you’re one of the homeowners who’s stocked up on flushable wipes during the ongoing toilet paper shortage, it’s OK to keep using them – just don’t flush them. Dispose of them as you would disposable diapers.
If your family has been flushing them already, be on the lookout for any signs of a clogged pipe:
- Backed-up toilets
- Slow-draining or gurgling drains
- Unpleasant odors coming from any drains
- Any irregularities near the drain cleanouts in your yard, such as wet spots, irregularly green or oddly shaped fresh grass patches, standing water – even see a wipe or two!
If you note any of these, don’t hesitate – call us at 817-461-1117 immediately or contact Horizon Plumbing online. Our estimates are always free, we do not charge a “trip charge”, and we’ll take care of any blockages before they get worse. Our goal is to become your long-term plumbing professional, and we’re so confident that you’ll be pleased with our service.