Why Flushing Regular Wipes Will Clog Your Drains
In today’s world, convenience is everything. In households across the United States, one item that has become a staple is wet wipes. At first used primarily for families with newborn babies, the wipes have in recent years started to be used by all members of a household for a variety of purposes.
Whether it’s in the bathroom to replace toilet paper or in the kitchen to clean the countertop and stove, wet wipes have become a booming business for manufacturers.
In fact, sales have risen almost 25 percent in the past five years, with consumers spending close to $400 million per year on wipes.
However, a growing trend has also been the amount of money people have spent on plumbing repairs due in large part to flushing wipes down the toilet.
Whether it’s been toilet repair or drain cleaning, households have spent nearly $4 million annually using the services of plumbers to remove clogs or replace pipes. To find out why flushing regular wipes such as these will clog your drains, take a look at some of the following facts.
Flushing a Softball
Unbeknownst to most people who use wet wipes and flush them down a toilet, the effect is the same as if they were dropping a softball into their toilet bowl and flushing it down the drain.
Unfortunately, while wet wipes may look similar to toilet paper, they fail to disintegrate as quickly and easily as toilet paper does when flushed. According to experienced plumbers, virtually all kinds of toilet paper disintegrate within a 24-hour period after being flushed.
However, wet wipes that are flushed will stay in a pipe or drain for many, many weeks or even months before they finally begin to dissolve. However, during those weeks or months as many more wipes are flushed, they begin to accumulate in the pipes and form a clog of monumental proportions. In some cases, the clogs are so big, plumbers call them “softball clogs” because they look as if a softball is in the pipe.
In these instances, the clog can sometimes put enough pressure on the pipe that it will crack, resulting in even more damage to a home’s plumbing system. To ensure this does not happen in your home, plumbers strongly recommend disposing of wet wipes in a standard trash can, which will eliminate the possibility of any clogs forming in the pipes.
The Septic Tank Disaster
While clogs such as these form very easily in homes that are part of a city’s water system, they can also form in homes that have a septic system for their water and sewer services. However, when clogs form in a septic tank, it’s a disaster that any homeowner does not want to face. While nothing that cannot dissolve should ever be flushed into a septic tank, that is especially true of wet wipes.
Not only can they form the aforementioned “softball clogs” as they do in some pipes, but they can also form what are known as “fatbergs” that can cause even more damage to a home.
According to plumbers, a “fatberg” is formed when wet wipes combine with grease, fat, food particles, and more to form a clog that is almost impossible to remove. In addition, the clog always leads to the septic tank stopping up and allowing sewage to back up into a home.
Needless to say, this mess not only looks and smells disgusting, but can be very costly to clean up. Along with this, the septic system itself will need to be pumped out and repaired if possible, costing several thousand dollars at a minimum. In some situations, the septic tank may have been damaged by the clog and require replacing, which will cost thousands of dollars more.
Discovering Your Roots
Along with these issues, another little-known problem concerning flushing wet wipes involves tree roots. If a home has an older plumbing system requiring regular toilet repair or drain cleaning, there’s a good chance tree roots may be causing the problem.
Over time, older pipes corrode and have tiny holes in them, which lets underground tree roots get inside the pipe and take up residence. Over time, a maze of roots develops, which prevents wipes or anything else from getting through the pipe.
As a result, the clog become larger and larger. letting less and less material get through the pipe. Eventually the pipe becomes completely clogged, requiring the services of a plumber. While these clogs can be removed, it is very difficult to do so and usually results in the entire pipe being replaced.
In homes where the plumbing system is very old, plumbers often recommend replacing the entire system at once to prevent any future problems. Either way, a person can expect to pay hundreds of dollars at a minimum, with the potential of several thousand dollars a real possibility.
A Plumbing Check-Up
If you have found yourself using wet wipes for some time and flushing one after another down the toilet day after day, then it’s time for a plumbing check-up by a professional plumber.
In many homes, there has started to be a constant need for toilet repair and drain cleaning, which is an indicator the problem could be the result of flushing wipes down the toilet.
Rather than let what may be a relatively minor problem turn into one that may wind up costing many thousands of dollars, it’s smart to contact a plumber and have the entire plumbing system checked for signs of clogs.
Since many plumbers use cameras that can be inserted directly into the pipes and drains, any clogs that have formed will be noticed right away. By catching the clogs early, you’ll hopefully be able to avoid having a “softball clog” or “fatberg” in your home’s pipes and drains.
If you are in need of quality plumbing services in your Berkeley, CA home, then don’t hesitate to contact Albert Nahman Plumbing at (510) 876-9725 as soon as possible.