You might not think twice about sending flushable wipes down your commodes. After all, these products are marketed as safe for use in residential plumbing systems. However, these claims are often misleading. Using flushable wipes in your Stroudsburg, PA, home can cause blockages and backups that cost a lot of money to resolve. While toilet paper completely breaks down shortly after submersion, flushable wipes can remain intact for decades. Whether snagged on pipes or forming massive “fatbergs,” these wipes can wreak havoc on both residential plumbing and municipal sewer systems. Read on to find out how.

What Does Flushable Really Mean?

From the standpoint of flushable wipe manufacturers, flushable means that products can be sent down toilets without clogging them and without causing immediate problems in pipes. Often, these wipes go down toilets without issue. In fact, some homeowners have used them daily for years without incident.

However, from the standpoint of plumbers, flushable means that a product will rapidly degrade once it is placed in water and exposed to movement. For instance, toilet paper is safe to flush because it begins degrading even before consumers have touched their toilet handles. Comparatively, paper towels are not flushable. Stronger adhesives, larger sizes, and more durable fibers keep paper towels intact despite ample moisture and rapid water movement.

Although they are smaller than paper towels, flushable wipes are more durable. In fact, most flushable wipes are not paper products at all. Despite being made from naturally biodegradable materials like wood pulp, they can also include man-made fibers such as polypropylene and polyethylene for added strength. Many flushable wipes are additionally reinforced with viscose or other durable polymers. These manufacturing techniques ensure that personal wipes do not break down when used for rigorous cleaning and leave unhygienic remnants behind.

Everything that you send down your toilets should have the capacity to become smaller and easier to pass as it moves down into the pipe. When the connotation of the word “flushable” is “able to break down,” flushable wipes do not fit the bill.

The Problem With Flushable Wipes

There are two major problems that flushable wipes cause. Slow-degrading and nondegrading products that enter your plumbing system can get caught on snags while traveling toward the sewer main. For instance, if the pipes at your home’s exterior have been encroached by tree roots or weeds, flushable wipes can get caught on these obstructions and cause blockages. If there are hard buildups of minerals in your pipes due to hard water, flushable wipes can get snagged on these too. Over time, these blockages can make it difficult for even fast-degrading, organic waste to get through the system. This places homeowners at risk of whole-house backups that require hydro-jetting or other professional drain cleaning measures.

The polymers used in flushable wipes to reinforce their structure also tend to attract fats and oils. When flushable wipes are sent into plumbing systems, they are guaranteed to encounter plenty of fats and oils. Once saturated in these substances, flushable wipes can adhere to one another to create large, solid lumps of waste that obstruct movement in municipal sewer systems. These masses are known as fatbergs, and they can disrupt the flow of sewage and create plumbing problems for entire neighborhoods.

Alternatives to Flushable Wipes

Flushable wipes offer a level of personal cleansing that standard toilet paper cannot. Although you should not send these wipes into your plumbing system, this does not mean that they cannot be used at all. Just like cotton swabs, sanitary pads, floss swords, and dental floss, these wipes should always be disposed of in the trash.

If you are uncomfortable putting these products in the garbage, consider having a bidet installed instead. You can upgrade to toilets with built-in bidets, or you can install bidets on your current commodes as integrated accessories.

What to Do If You Have Been Using Flushable Wipes

If you have been using flushable wipes in your home, now is the time to stop. Even if these products have not caused plumbing problems in the past, a backup or blockage could be looming just around the corner. To mitigate potential damages, be sure to mention your concerns during your next whole-plumbing inspection or other plumbing services. Professional drain cleaning services, hydro-jetting, and other measures can be used in advance of trouble to clear out any wipes that have been snagged on rough spots or obstructions.

We are committed to helping residents of Stroudsburg, PA save money by protecting and maintaining their plumbing systems. We offer heating, cooling, and plumbing services. Our clients can also count on us for drain cleaning, leak detection, and advanced indoor air quality solutions. If you need help clearing flushable wipes out of your plumbing system, get in touch with R.J. Groner Inc. today.

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