Skip to comments.So-Called “Flushable” Wipes Causing Pipe, Sewer Problems
Posted on 10/04/2013 11:41:55 PM PDT by nickcarraway
With each and every flush, some North Texans are doing something that could cost them and their respective cities a lot of money. Were talking about those so-called flushable wipes.
At one time or another youve probably used a moistened wipe maybe it was for your baby or to take off make-up. But as the wipes get more and more popular theyre wreaking havoc with plumbing systems.
North Texas mother Tiffany Sanchez admitted that she uses a lot of the wipes. Every diaper change. If he [son] is sticky or dirty.
Sanchez also said she uses the wipes religiously for herself. Sometimes the toilet paper doesnt do the job.
Sanchez isnt alone and the increased use of the wipes is causing problems. Ben Bravo, with Bravos Plumbing explained it in a unique way. Think of it like paper towels on steroids!
Despite what manufacturers claim, the wipes even the ones that say flushable do not dissolve. Plumbers say they can get tangled in pipes and completely clog them.
Its [the wipe] really strong and durable and when you flush it, it wont dissolve 100-percent,Bravo explained. Over time all that knitting will accumulate in the sewer.
The wipes are not biodegradable so they dont break down in sewage systems. In east Fort Worth, the wipes that manage to get through end up at the wastewater treatment plant. The plant is where water is cleaned and recycled.
Speaking about the individual wipes Mary Gugliuzza, with the Fort Worth Water Department, said, It can sometimes cause problems if it gets caught up in pumps, at lift stations, or here at the treatment plant.
If the wipes make it to the plant the city then has to separate and discard them, sending big dumpsters to area landfills. The extra work costs city residents extra money.
People could easily dispose of those things in their own trash instead of sending it to us and us paying for it, Gugliuzza said.
While the clogs, tie-ups, and extra processing is costing the city and residents, the end result is the exact opposite for plumbers. Money for me gold, Bravo said smiling.
City officials say the flushing of moist wipes does impact water bills, but the cost is not that significant.
For the city however it does cost thousands of dollars to send the wipes to landfills.
This is bullcrap. The clogs are caused by all the low flow toilets. The line falls were all calculated with higher water volumes moving material and the new water saving stuff and low flush toilets greatly reduce it while sending in the same or more waste.
Sewers have always clogged, and the primary seed and growth factor for it is human hair and grease/fats.
The media is all of the sudden running with this probably because some dog excrement eating politician wants to sponsor some legislation on baby wipes and or similar items...
The landlords here keep pleading with the residents to quit pouring their used cooking oil down their drains. They say it goofs up the sewer lines.
The latest industry the environmentalists want to financially destroy.
Oh, so that’s what is clogging up the senate and the white house.
it is more than just one thing, having a combined effect.
1. low flows
2. pipe diameters sized for older toilets, not newer ones
3. old cast iron piping that has rougher surfaces that catch debris
4. flushing down “ultra” tp and wipes and lady products that do not break down. tp in the past wasn’t as ‘durable’ and broke up more.
5. roots, as always, invading a main line. grease and fat and hair stuff clog smaller secondary lines, not main sewer lines.
it doesn’t help. if the oils are solids at room temp they’ll be solid in the pipe.
Solid trash belongs in the garbage can, not the sewer pipe. For fecal matter, OK, but who really needs to remove makeup and then flush that down the sewer? It is amazing how many people see their toilet as a wet garbage can.
Solid waste belong in the garbage NOT the toilet.
It’s a liquid garbage disposal! What do you think sludge de-waterers and applicators are for anyway??? :-)
I disagree with you. Wipes are designed to be strong; whereas toilet paper is designed to “dissolve” in water. A lot of engineering is involved in making toilet paper. When I was growing up in the 60s we had a septic tank; which had to be pumped every so many years. One day, the guy, who was pumping our septic tank, out told my mother to never put facial tissue in the septic tank, because it would cause her to call him more often, so the issue has been around for a long time.
So sorry to hear about the city having to pay to dump my wipes in a landfill, (HORSE CRAP), But considering that they have raised my water and sewer rates over 400% in the last decade they can go pound salt.
My guess is the problem is not so much “flushable” wipes as it is the increase in types of products that *look* like they might be flushable i.e. baby wipes, feminine hygeine items, facial tissues, antibacterial wipes, and so on.
Flushable wipes are specifically not much tougher than high-end toilet paper, and (presumably) are designed to break down in the sewer at least to some degree. All those other things aren’t, but people no doubt figure that “it should be ok anyway”. Multiply that by a couple hundred thousand people, and it starts to be a real problem.
And as others have no doubt pointed out, the reduced water flows in sewers designed for 3-gal flushes probably contributes to the problem.
What is that?
Wipes are insignificant compared to the effect of "water conservation."
Since public sewers began being installed in the 19th century, the engineering principle of hydraulics played a central role in its transparent success. As the saying goes, it's not rocket science, but it IS engineering.
Liquids flow in round pipes is predictable, with a well known relationship between liquid depth and the velocity of flow. Add to that the fact that sewage is not a pure liquid, and we get to the crux of the matter.
Plumbing pipe sizes were standardized to provide a minimum flow velocity, for anticipated volumes, of 2 feet per second. Any lower than that, and solids settle, accumulate and eventually clog. What determines the velocity is the slope of the plumbing, which has always been 1/4 inch per foot for plumbing inside walls and in structure crawl spaces.
There is no way to mitigate the reduced speed of water flow without inducing silting and eventually clogging.
When physical laws are involved, the combination of ignorance, arrogance and good intentions usually yield unintended consequences of the worst kind.
Think of those as industrial very high volume garbage disposers, which pretty much pulverize any solids that reach a treatment plant, to allow the sewage to be treated in a more liquid state.
Unfortunately in very flat terrain serving a small neighborhood, or town, it's often necessary to use series of smaller pumps to get the sewage to the treatment plant.
Sometimes the toilet paper doesnt do the job.
To much information Tiff!
First thing you always gotta do is FOLLOW THE MONEY?
Where is it likely that money is to be made, or not being made here? Think about it. Can anybody say toilet paper?
If these things are flushable/biodegradable per the manufacturers statements on the package and some city/group/whoever says they aren’t then prove your case and sue for damages, if you can. Likely as not you would lose.
Bad toilet design, people using baby wipes that might not be flushable and thinking they are. People using too many of them at once - any number of reasons.
I use these things and the impact on actual product (e.g., regular rolls) use is amazing. I don’t even buy toilet paper any more, except for the wifey who goes through them a lot for makeup, use and etc....
Follow the money (not being made).
My BIL is a plumber....he says the worst thing you can do is to put hot grease or oil down the drain. If you have to do it, run it with cold water. It keeps the oil from infiltrating and building up as much.
The other thing he says is this: There’s two things you gotta know to be a plumber 1) sh!t flows downhill, and 2) DON’T bite your fingernails!