Lewis Maclean June 2018

JUNE 2018

The Truth About Wet Wipes ARE YOU DESTROYING YOUR HOME’S PLUMBING?

Though we’ve been talking about air conditioning for the last few months — and it is getting warm out there — this month, I wanted to turn to another important topic. It’s a topic not often brought up: sewage. Over the past several weeks, we’ve been called out to a rash of sewage backups. In nearly every case, we’ve had to break out the drain snake to clear an obstruction. The culprit? Wet wipes. Wet wipes are advertised as a major convenience. When you need to clean up, they’re great and can come to the rescue in many different situations. The problem is, they are not meant to be flushed. A lot of wet wipes, moist towelettes, and baby wipes say they can be flushed — it’s right on the label. This is not true. There is no such thing as a “flushable” wet wipe. Since they came into popularity in the 2000s, these wipes have been causing a lot of problems in plumbing systems, septic systems, and public sewers. They’re a headache for sewage and water treatment facilities. The problem has gotten so bad that cities in the United States have sued wet wipe manufacturers for labeling their products as “flushable.” These products do not break down like toilet paper. Because they are designed to retain moisture, their structure is highly fibrous. If you tear a wet wipe in two, you can see just how fibrous it is. Even the thinnest wipes won’t break down like toilet paper. As a result, they will block

drains and cause backups — and sometimes these backups get so bad they require extensive work.

Some wet wipes are marketed as antibacterial or antimicrobial and contain alcohol. These can be problematic for

septic systems that rely on certain kinds of bacteria and enzymes to properly function. The alcohol kills the bacteria and when the bacteria in these systems are disrupted, it can mean that these systems need to be emptied more frequently.

Toilet paper is specifically designed to break down when it’s flushed. When it hits the water, it starts to fall apart. Other products, such as Kleenex, makeup towelettes, dental floss, paper towels, cotton swabs, and other similar “soft” items also don’t break down. If it’s not toilet paper, your best bet is to not flush it.

“A lot of wet wipes, moist towelettes, and baby wipes say they can be flushed — it’s right on the label. This is not true. There is no such thing as a ‘flushable’ wet wipe.”

When it comes to your home’s plumbing, a small issue can quickly escalate into a big problem if it’s left to sit. If you’re experiencing a backup, don’t hesitate to call. We have drain snakes in all of our trucks, and we’re always ready to wrangle the toughest clogs. We’ll get out to you before it becomes a serious problem that requires a lot of cleanup. As always, we’re standing by the phone, ready to take your call — and ready to handle all of your plumbing, drainage, heating, and air conditioning needs! We hope you’re having a great summer and that you’re staying cool out there!

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