Can flushable wipes cause plumbing issues?
On the surface, flushable wipes seem like a great idea. They work the same as traditional bathroom paper but are gentler and allegedly leave you cleaner.
While they do have some advantages over traditional paper products, their drawbacks may outweigh those advantages.
Before deciding whether flushable wipes are worth the risk in your household, you should know more about them.
What Are Flushable Wipes?
The definition of flushable wipes is an important distinction because many people flush all wipes down the toilet, unaware that there is a difference.
In theory, flushable wipes are meant to degrade in the sewer system the same way that regular paper does.
The problem is that many wipes that are marketed as "flushable" or "septic safe" don't degrade like they are supposed to because there is very little oversight over what companies can claim on these moisturized paper products.
Do Flushable Wipes Cause Plumbing Issues?
The problem with flushable wipes is that the issues that they cause build up over time.
In almost every case, a flushable wipe will flush fine. It isn't until they reach an elbow in the plumbing that they can get stuck.
As more and more wipes get stuck, they build up over time until they entirely clog the plumbing.
These build-ups can take hours for a professional plumber to unclog and cost the homeowner a lot of money, all for something they thought was okay.
Problems Beyond the Pipes
The pipes in your home are just the beginning; there are other issues to be concerned with.
Bad for the Environment
Flushable wipes have an environmental impact during manufacturing and disposal.
They take the same resources as other fiber materials, including trees for paper and oil for plastic packaging.
Unfortunately, many of these wipes end up in our waterways and oceans like other plastics that don't break down and threaten wildlife.
Even when they make their way to a landfill, they can take nearly a century to break down.
Many of these wipes claim to be hypoallergenic, but not all of them.
Some of these wipes have chemicals and perfumes, which may cause allergic reactions for some people, especially when used repeatedly with a product like this.
Clogs Entire Sewer Systems
If they make it out of your pipes, that doesn't mean that you are safe.
Flushable wipes can combine with fat in the sewer system and create "fatbergs," or giant blobs of fat and wipes combined.
These "fatbergs" can grow so large that they block entire sewer systems, creating back-ups for the whole neighborhood.
Ways to Avoid Clogged Pipes From Flushable Wipes
Of course, the easiest way to avoid clogged pipes is not to use them at all, but there are some legitimate reasons people choose to use flushable wipes.
If you need flushable wipes, there are a couple of ways to dispose of them to keep your pipes safe.
The easiest way to keep them out of your pipes is to throw them away, but some people may find that to be unhygienic.
Grinders can be installed in the existing plumbing of residential homes to shred wipes and any other solid waste before it empties into the sewer system.
Installing a mechanical grinder has an upfront cost, but it will likely save you money in the long run.
What If It's Too Late
If you have a clog, call Pro Plumbing Services for professional and safe blockage removal.
Whether it is flushable wipes or anything else, our plumbers have the tools to get the job done right and get your bathroom back in working order.