Are disposable wipes bad for plumbing? You might as well ask do fish swim. Although the subject of flushable toilet wipes is not likely to become the topic of discussion on the news channel anytime soon, for the people that have to deal with them, (sewer treatment personnel and plumbers), the answer to that question is just as obvious as the do fish swim question. While disposable wipes have been designed to get through your toilet, it is after that when bigger problems being caused by these disposable wipes occur. The main drains in your home and even in the city’s treatment facility are often compromised by these innocent looking wipes. If you try to flush household cleaning wipes or regular baby wipes down your toilet you are just asking for trouble. Disposable wipes may be one of the worst things you can flush down the toilet. They are bad for your home’s plumbing in San Diego as well as for our sewage treatment plants.
If you are staying in some night and need something to do, just browse through the plumbing industry chat rooms online. You will notice the word “softball” coming up quite a lot when describing clogs that are caused by a multitude of disposable wipes. Extracting these plugs from can be very costly and yet often necessary in your home drain pipes if you insist in flushing disposable wipes. But it dose not stop there, many cities are experiencing sewage clogs from disposable wipes. Many cities have been reporting a significant rise in sewage system clogs directly related to flushable wipes. Because this causes an increase in maintenance costs, they have requested that residents not flush them down the toilet. Some cities have placed disposable wipes high on their list of “debris” that causes the majority of their sewage system backups. To help combat this situation the cities are now starting to pass laws making it illegal to flush wipes.
This is a good question because as it turns out, it may not exactly be what you are thinking. Yes wipes that say they are flushable are indeed flushable. However it is kind of like saying you can eat a whole box of donuts along with a case of marshmallows; sure they are edible but is it really a good idea? Just because you can flush them down does not make then good for your system. Manufacturers have tested their disposable wipes in their labs and found them to be just fine. However the real test is how they affect your plumbing in the real world. The manufacturer may tell you they recommend flushing one or two at a time, but your little one may not be able to count and your sewage pipes and equipment are not a laboratory simulation.
The real question is how fast the flushable product breaks will down in water. Consumer Reports in 2009 ran test of many leading brands of toilet paper as well as flushable wipes. They concluded that the thickest and strongest toilet papers squeaked by the test, however all the wipes tested completely failed the disintegration test with very low marks. Were they flushable, well yes? Were they dissolvable, not really? They found that the wipes did not dissolve enough to prevent significant clogs in many sewage systems. Consumer Reports then further recommended that wipes should be disposed of in the trash and not flushed down the toilet.
Those who have a septic system are well aware of how these mini sewage treatment plants know how they must be babied. They know to never use drain cleaners, never flush Kleenex, nothing other than toilet paper. If the people on municipal systems used the same flushing habits as the folks with a septic system, the city budget planners and sewage professionals would be very thankful and save a lot of money. Another way to look at it is, if it is not safe for a septic system; don’t flush it into a city system. The big question then becomes, are disposable wipes bad for septic systems? Do fish swim?
If you have a plumbing problem that needs solved now call us at Black Mountain Plumbing (858) 536-4161.
Serving San Diego and San Diego County for over 25 years with quality work and great service. We also service these cities – El Cajon, La Mesa, Lakeside, Poway, Ramona, Santee, Pacific Beach, La Jolla, University City, Tierrasanta, Rancho Penasquitos, Rancho Bernardo, Rancho Santa Fe, Encinitas, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Leucadia, Sorrento Valley, Miramar, Mira Mesa, Scripps Ranch, Vista, Carlsbad, San Marcos, Fairbanks Ranch, 4S Ranch, and Sabre Springs.