Are Flushable Wipes Bad for Plumbing?
All of us are looking for convenience in all facets of life. Our time in the bathroom is no different. One of the more modern amenities in many bathrooms these days is flushable wipes.
You may find that flushable wet wipes outshine toilet paper due to their cleansing quality, along with their ability to flush away quickly. However, many people wonder, “Are flushable wipes bad for my plumbing?”
Here at Advantage Plumbing & Sewer Co., the most reliable plumbing company in Aurora, IL, our team decided it’s time to address this issue once and for all. Read on!
What Are Flushable Wipes?
Flushable wipes are moist towelettes that manufacturers claim to be safe for plumbing systems. You’ll find many kinds of wipes claiming to be flushable on the market today. Some of the varieties of flushable wipes are:
- Baby wipes
- Cosmetic wipes
- Toilet wipes
- Antibacterial cleansing wipes
The flushable wipes that concern most people are flushable bathroom wipes. Some people have gone as far as replacing their toilet paper with flushable wipes entirely. While this may seem convenient and luxurious—not to mention feeling like a superior cleansing method, it may be more problematic than you think.
Can I Use Flushable Wipes?
Are flushable wipes bad for plumbing? The answer, unfortunately, is “yes.” By design, toilet paper disintegrates quickly in water. Flushable wipes need to be more durable to soak up the liquid cleanser they sit in before use.
The problem here is that while the wipes seem to flush easily, but once they get into the plumbing, they don’t break down quickly. The result is frequent clogs and blockages. As you continue to flush additional wipes, a blockage can become massive and more problematic.
Flushable wipes don’t disintegrate, and that property causes them to block up your sewer line. With continuous usage, flushable wipes can cause more severe issues like septic tank blockage or a burned-out sewage pump. If a backup in the sewage system occurs, it may result in the flooding of your house or workplace.
Aren’t Flushable Wipes Tested?
No mandate exists in the United States for the testing of flushable wipes. Manufacturers of these wipes may have no “flushablity team” checking in on the wipes’ ability to dissolve or pass through a plumbing system safely. That means that companies can label any wipe they manufacture as “flushable,” with no consequence to themselves.
A research team at McGill University in Canada did a study to test twenty-three varieties of flushable wipes. After building an observable model of a domestic septic system, they would proceed to flush each wipe and record the results. The wipes did not break down enough to pass safely through the septic system without clogging or damaging it.
How Your Septic System Works
Your septic system is a series of components working together to treat and release wastewater from your home. The typical domestic septic system works in the following steps:
- The water from sinks, showers, and toilets in your home flows through a drainage pipe to the septic tank.
- The septic tank is a fiberglass, concrete, or polyethylene underground container. It houses the wastewater while solid waste settles at the bottom.
- The wastewater travels from the septic tank to the drainfield: a wide, shallow pit that sits under dirt or grass.
- The drainfield removes the impurities in the water and distributes it through the soil.
- The wastewater percolates through the soil and removes dangerous bacteria and viruses.
How Do Flushable Wipes Harm My Septic System?
Flushable wipes don’t disintegrate fast enough to safely pass through the septic system. Even if they get through the plumbing in your home or business, they can create major problems in your septic system.
If flushable wipes clog up your septic tank, sewage will begin to flood your yard where the tank sits. This sewage can damage your home and create health hazards. The drainfield may also flood, leaving most of your yard covered in sewage.
If you routinely flush disposable wipes down the toilet, keep an eye out for signs of trouble. The average septic tank repair bill ranges between $750 and $3,000, while more serious septic tank issues can cost $6,000 or more. Look for symptoms of septic system issues before they get worse and more costly.
Some of the signs of a severe septic system problem are:
- Water accumulates around the septic system
- Your grass and trees begin to seem more colorful
- You smell sulfur outside your home or building
- Your sinks and showers are draining slowly
Flushable Wipes in Sewer Systems
Not only are flushable wipes harmful to your home’s plumbing and septic system, but they are also terrible for the larger sewer systems. If your flushable wipes pass through your own sewer pipes without an issue, they can still wreak havoc at the sewage treatment plant.
If this occurs, the integrity of your town’s whole sewer system becomes at risk. Water shortages and citywide plumbing problems can arise when a town’s sewage plant is not running smoothly. This could end up culminating in millions of tax dollars in repairs to both domestic households and your city’s infrastructure.
What Kinds of Damage Can Flushable Wipes Do?
Flushable wipes can be extremely harmful to your home’s or workplace’s plumbing system. If you’re continuously flushing wipes down your toilet, you could soon be dealing with sewage backup, serious septic system issues, and bursting pipes. You may also end up paying an expensive repair bill for your septic tank.
Call Us at Advantage Plumbing & Sewer Co. in St. Charles, IL
Are flushable wipes bad for plumbing? Yes. To ensure your plumbing system’s safety, do not flush anything but toilet paper down your toilet. If you’ve been regularly flushing wipes, look for signs of clogs in your septic system before you have a bigger, expensive problem.
Click the link if you want to know the reasons why you need to inspect for faulty plumbing. Call us at Advantage Plumbing & Sewer Co. at (847) 613-1344 for any plumbing needs in St. Charles, IL, and any surrounding areas!