Flushable wipes appear to be the pinnacle of toilet-paper evolution. They're convenient, sanitary, and easily disposable!
But the question is, are flushable wipes really the greatest thing since...well, the invention of toilet paper, or do they cause more issues than companies like to advertise?
After the pandemic caused a massive toilet paper shortage, flushable wipes became the best alternative for many people. However, for most professional plumbers, it just meant their schedules were about to get a whole lot busier.
Curtis Plumbing has dealt with a ton of clients in Riverview, Brandon, Valrico, and throughout Central Florida whose toilets or septic tanks became clogged or backed up due to these "flushable" wipes. Because of this, there are several reasons why we don't recommend people try flushing their wipes down the toilet.
If the wipes say they're "flushable", then what's the problem?
Despite what the packaging says, flushable wipes are anything but that. The reason toilet paper is better to use is that it's designed to disintegrate quickly once it's in the water, while wipes are not. Most "flushable" or "septic safe" wipes are made with synthetic materials, plastics, or polyester, none of which breakdown easily.
Is this the only issue? Certainly not. In fact, it only adds to a bigger problem. Even though the wipes go down the toilet just fine, they usually get stuck in a pipe that's at a 45-degree angle. This clog builds up after months and months of people flushing their wipes. Once the sewer is completely blocked, the plumbing pipes get backed up and a plumber needs to be called out.
Flushable wipes can also badly damage wastewater equipment at the treatment plants. Wastewater treatment officials over the years have begged people to stop flushing wipes down the toilet, even if the manufacturers say you can.
Many facilities, like Charleston Water in South Carolina, have shown people the consequences of what happens when too many flushable wipes get stuck in the piping system. Sometimes it involves sending a team of divers into the sewage system to use their hands to remove the rest of the obstruction. These wipes can accumulate with other non-flushable items like cooking fat and other sanitary products, which causes an even bigger clog that's referred to as a "fatberg."
Another issue with flushable wipes is there is no regulatory standard that constitutes what it means to be "flushable". According to the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, there's no official way to prove or disprove a company's claim that states their wipes are indeed flushable. While they may be biodegradable, this doesn't equal plumbing-safe or sewer system friendly. All that can be said is that flushable wipes DO in fact cause clogs and other plumbing issues, which is based solely on the experience of hundreds of water companies and thousands of plumbers.
Flushable wipes end up costing the homeowner more.
According to Today.com, the U.S. saw a record-breaking number of flushable wipe sales in 2015 reaching nearly $2.2 billion! With such a massive profit margin, you'd think that something bought by millions of people would be safe for your plumbing, right? Many U.S. municipalities would strongly disagree.
If you take that $2.2 billion and halved it, then that's how much the U.S. spends per year to clean up wastewater treatment plants that dealt with constant clogs from flushable wipes. That's right; $1 billion a year to clean up the mess from a product that's made double the profit.
While homeowners might not be paying that for their plumbing problems, it's still not an inexpensive fix. One person shared with a news site how they ended up with a $3,300 plumbing bill for a new sewage pump after the original was ruined by these so-called flushable wipes.
Looking to buy flushable wipes? Think again.
Despite their name, flushable wipes aren't as flushable as you'd think! While they may go down your toilet, what you're not seeing is how much money you're inevitably flushing down with them.
If you think your clog might be caused by flushable wipes, give our plumbing team a call at (813) 672-4111 so we can get your plumbing system back to normal ASAP! We provide toilet and sewer repairs and installations for homes and businesses in the Central Florida area, including Riverview, Brandon, & Valrico.