Persistent and widespread use of so-called flushable and disposable wipes in the waste stream have been identified as the culprit in plugging of pumps. The word ‘flushable’ means it won’t clog your toilet or your house, but when it eventually gets to the sewage treatment plant, the wipes wrap around the equipment, shut it down, and then the treatment plant workers go and manually pull these wipes out. Regular lift station maintenance has shown how pervasive the problem really is. Flushables and wipes are second only to grease clogs as a source of trouble in the lines and pumps. People think that because they’re flushable, they’re not going to affect the system, so they do it regularly without thought. They think as long as it goes down the toilet, everything is fine. The products eventually get to the lift station, get very stringy, and wrap themselves around the machinery causing issues with the pump. Suddenly that $3 package of wipes creates an $8,000 to $10,000 problem.
Wipes do not disintegrate in water as quickly as toilet paper and can get caught on roots or debris in pipes, causing blockages and overflows. If wipes can clog our large sewer mains, they can definitely clog your home’s much smaller sewer pipes, requiring you to pay a plumber to clear the blockage. Unfortunately, over the years, people have turned the toilet into a trash can. From medications and sanitary products to deceased pet fish and cigarette butts, if it fits, people flush it.
A list of items that people commonly flush that should not be going down the toilet are-- prescription and over the counter medication, sanitary products, condoms, paper towels, diapers, baby wipes and facial tissues, cotton balls, cotton swabs, hair, mop refills, towelettes, cigarette butts, and dental floss, —all made of materials that don’t break down and can cause pipes to clog. By reducing the materials that are inappropriately flushed or drained into the sewer system, wastewater treatment staff, treatment plants, pumps, and pipes are protected and don’t become an expensive problem. No matter what a label says, the only items you should flush are the three P’s—pee, poop, and