Over the last few years, flushable wipes have grown in popularity and many households have added them to their regular shopping habits. While people enjoy using them, disposing of them can create a real problem, particularly if you live in an older home with smaller pipes. Read on to learn more about whether or not you should use flushable wipes and the risks you face with your plumbing.
Flushable wipes, which are essentially the same product as the baby wipes used to clean up dirty diapers, come with one drawback. Unlike baby wipes, people are not typically comfortable with throwing these wipes in a garbage can and emptying it a few times a week. Nor do they typically have a diaper genie in the bathroom. So the natural instinct is for people to flush these wipes.
The issue with flushable wipes is that manufacturers hold one opinion on them and plumbers hold another. Many of the wipes sold in the store as flushable are made from a woven cloth that does not decompose as fast as toilet paper. These wipes are closer to the consistency of paper towels. As a result, they can take longer to break down within the plumbing and cause clogging. This can be costly for the homeowner if a plumber has to snake the household plumbing system or repair the cause of a backup.
Flushable wipes can also cause problems within the larger infrastructure of a city or town. In large cities such as London and New York, flushable wipes have already been the cause of stress and expense for leaders. In London, flushable wipes were a large part of the composition of a “Fatberg”, a 15 ton blockage made up of sewage, grease and paper. It took three weeks for city workers to dismantle this lump and get the system working properly again. New York City officials have not experienced this large of a disruption before, but they do estimate that wipes are to blame for millions of dollars of damages to equipment. In each of these cases, the extreme effect of using wipes may be due to the fact that both cities have a huge population and older plumbing systems. Flushable wipes can bring the longstanding issues within a plumbing system to a head.
If you enjoy using flushable wipes, here are some ways you can minimize the chance of an issue arising:
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