Don’t Flush Wet Wipes

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When you are watching television and a commercial comes on for toilet paper, does it make you wonder? Why do these companies need to advertise so heavily for toilet paper – isn’t everyone using it? Well, you have a point. But manufacturers are still looking for ways to expand their business. One way that they do this is by introducing new products, like wet wipes. 

There are lots of different wet wipes on the market today. It started with baby wipes, as a convenient way to clean a baby’s bottom. Now there are wet wipes for adults, too. 

Companies encourage consumers to use these wipes in addition to regular toilet for a fresher, cleaner experience. There are regular wet wipes, medicated wipes to treat hemorrhoids, and feminine wipes. Many of these brands claim that they are safe for your septic system and can be flushed down the toilet. 

Go ahead and use these wipes if you like, but do not flush them down the toilet. Regardless of what the label says, they can damage your plumbing system.

The problem is not actually whether the wet wipes will flush down the toilet. They may go down the toilet just fine, without the need for plunging or anything. The problem comes later on, when the wipes move through your sewer system. 

Many older sewer systems are built of clay, concrete, iron pipes, or Orangeburg. All of these materials are very susceptible to the growth of tree roots. Roots may begin to grow into the sewer system at the joints, and then they spread, forming a web throughout the pipes. Things that pass through the pipes will get caught in the roots.

If you are flushing things that don’t belong in the sewer, this can create clogs. Toilet paper generally isn’t a problem, because it dissolves quickly. 

Many types of toilet paper dissolve in minutes, and even the thickest varieties of toilet paper will dissolve within a day. However, paper towels, feminine hygiene products, and wet wipes can take weeks or even months to dissolve. You could end up with a clog in your sewer and sewage backing up into your home.

Even if wet wipes make it through the sewer system without causing a problem, they can create problems when they arrive at the sewage treatment plant. The industrial grade pumps there can be damaged and overheat because of those fibrous wet wipes. Every time that happens, taxpayers have to foot the bill for the pumps to be repaired or replaced. You won’t be surprised to learn that those pumps aren’t cheap.

Yes, some brands of wet wipes may be labeled “flushable.” Some brands are less fibrous and stringy than others, and therefore less likely to cause problems. Just to be safe, don’t flush any of them. The only things that you should flush down your toilet is human waste and toilet paper. 

Throw everything else in the trash can. If the trash bothers you, try buying a small can with a lid that seals, and line it with a scented bag. This is much easier and less expensive than calling a plumber to clean out your sewer.

If you have a clogged sewer, call Scott English Plumbing. We are available to handle routine plumbing maintenance issues as well as plumbing emergencies. We are available around the clock, so whenever you have a problem, give Scott English Plumbing a call.


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