Many of us give very little thought to what we flush down the toilet. Unfortunately, flushing inappropriate items such as wet wipes can have a detrimental and costly effect on your plumbing. Although they may appear innocuous, there are some very good reasons why you should not be putting wet wipes down your toilet.
Wet Wipes Don’t Break Apart:
Although it is immediately obvious that wet wipes don’t start to disintegrate on contact with water, you may assume that once they are flushed, they will. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Unlike regular toilet paper that typically breaks down within 24 hours, a wet wipe will remain almost completely imperishable, so in reality, it never actually breaks down. Plumbing experts have found intact wet wipes inside drain pipes months after they were flushed. This can create a massive buildup that clogs drain lines and can cause a backup in your plumbing system.
They Form Fatbergs:
A fatberg is an informal term used to describe a scenario where a wet wipe combines with grease, fat and other debris in the pipes to create a formation like an iceberg. This type of obstruction can create a massive clog in your pipes. Some plumbers have reported fatbergs that were as large as 10 feet in length and weighing over 100 pounds. Even if you don’t have a fatberg this large, a smaller softball clog can still cause thousands of dollars of damage to your plumbing system.
The Risk of a Wipe Wall:
Unless you have a brand new home equipped with brand new pipes, you may be surprised at how fragile your plumbing system is. The older your property, the greater the potential for small holes or tree root infestation in your pipes. Unfortunately, when you flush your wet wipes down a fragile drain, they will become tangled in the debris in the pipe, creating a wipes wall that is very difficult to penetrate. This wall can prevent anything from reaching the mains sewer system, which means that your plumbing may start to backup with foul water.
Damage to the Sewer System:
Finally, even if flushed wet wipes don’t get caught up in your pipes or create a blockage, it doesn’t mean the danger has passed. If the wet wipes reach the main sewer system, it can cause damage to city sewer systems or home septic systems. The reason for this is that instead of the wet wipes causing a clog in the drain lines, it can create a blockage in the sewer system. This would mean that there is a risk of the sewer backing up into your drains, sinks, bathtubs and any other openings that directly connect to the sewer system. You may find that you need to spend thousands of dollars just on the clean up alone. If the blockage becomes extremely severe, you may even need to pay to replace your septic system.
If you are concerned that you have flushed wet wipes down your toilet and it may have caused plumbing issues, you should speak to your plumbing professional
By Giovanni Longo President Flood Brothers Plumbing
Giovanni Longo is a 3rd generation master plumber who has been practicing his craft and trade in the greater Los Angeles area for well over a decade and a half. A plumbing and hydraulics-engineering innovator, Giovanni’s particular world-class expertise focuses on dealing with challenging sewer system designs as well as resolving complex commercial and residential draining issues. As a certified Flood Mitigation expert, he is also well versed in a wide variety of water damage and remediation solution.