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If you use "flushable" wipes, you'll want to read this.
A town in Arkansas almost had to completely shut down its sewer system due to a build-up of "flushable" wipes.
Why do I keep putting the word "flushable" in quotes?
Because even though the wipes will flush, they don't break down like toilet tissue and they have the potential to back up a sewer system, as evidenced by this story.
According to KLFY TV10, the town of Keiser, Arkansas, was experiencing issues with its sewer system.
Engineers suspected a backup in the system and, after a few days, they were able to locate and remove the items clogging the system. Those items: "flushable" wipes.
During the days it took the engineers to find and remove the clog, the whole town had to cut down on its water usage, and that included flushing. Think about that: they had to cut down on flushing. Their toilets. Full of waste. Ew.
Once the clog in the main sewer line began to be cleared out, workers found that almost 5 gallons of flushable wipes were the reason for the flow stoppage.
So, why are they marketed as "flushable" when they can cause these types of issues? Because it's not a lie: you CAN flush them. Just drop it in the bowl, push the handle and "voila", it's gone.
But unlike toilet tissue, these wipes do not disintegrate in water. Actually, they are designed to be strong, so if they get snagged on anything in the pipe/drain system, they'll hold on pretty tight.
Once this happens, more items may begin to get stuck on that first wipe and, before you know it, the whole town is wondering why they can't flush but twice a day.
And if the clog gets bad enough down the sewer line, things might get unpleasant in your home.
According to D&N Plumbing, households that flush "flushable" wipes are more likely to have issues with their plumbing system.
Flushable wipes do not fall apart when they are wet. In fact, they hold together better than paper towels.
...they don’t disintegrate, and if there isn’t enough water to push them through, they’ll clog the sewer line. They can also cause the septic tanks to need to be pumped more often and can block pipes. - D&N Plumbing
Even if the wipes don't get caught in YOUR plumbing, when they get to the wastewater treatment plant, they could do some real damage.
The pumps at treatment plants are big, heavy-duty, and expensive. But, they can be prone to burning up from - you guessed it - "flushable" wipes getting stuck in them.
Global Water Group says that Australian Water Services is spending around $15 million a year to combat the problem of people flushing wipes into the sewer system. They also attribute about 75% of all blockages to "flushable" wipes.
How can the problem be alleviated? Well, for starters, we can get the companies who produce the wipes to remind people of the dangers of flushing them.
You can also have a grinder pump installed if you are fortunate enough to have the funds to do that if you absolutely must flush the wipes.
Millions of people have probably flushed millions of wipes down toilets all across the globe without issue, and you have too, right? Well, we're not telling you NOT to flush them, we're just letting you know what could happen.