Wipes Clog Pipes! 'Flushable' is Not What it Seems - SCARCE

Flushable wet wipes have become increasingly popular over the past decade or so. Marketed as “plumbing and septic” friendly, it’s easy to see why many consumers have embraced the hygiene product –especially when toilet paper shortages affected much of the nation last spring. Despite their name and how they’re marketed, it’s important to know that not all brands of wipes are actually flushable – in fact, many of them can cause major plumbing problems.

Regardless of the brand, wet wipes are made from fibrous materials; some are also reinforced with polymers like viscose. When flushed, they’ll go down the toilet easily, but problems can start when they reach the 45-degree elbow in the plumbing because many of the materials in them don’t break down. Once a wipe or two starts to collect in the elbow, they’ll often continue to catch more wipes, which can eventually lead to a blockage. Unfortunately, wet wipe blockages can lead to thousands of dollars’ worth of damage to plumbing and septic systems.

Whether you’re a landlord or property manager, you definitely don’t want to deal with the potential plumbing issues wet wipes can cause! Many plumbers recommend that only toilet paper is flushed down the toilet and this is a good piece of advice to use with your properties. Not only can damage to the plumbing system be expensive to repair, but cleaning costs can add to the overall bill.

What You Should Do

With this in mind, you may want to consider adding a clause to your lease or rental agreement that states wet wipes are prohibited at your properties – or that any plumbing problems caused by them are the tenant’s responsibility to pay for. You can also direct them to the ample collection of articles online that talk about the plumbing horrors wet wipes can cause. It may seem like a bit of a scare tactic, but it can be very successful in helping tenants understand why they should avoid flushing wet wipes down the toilet.

Although there’s no sure way to stop your tenants from purchasing and using these products, making them aware of the issue and including gentle reminders throughout the year does tend to help. In multifamily units especially, plumbing issues like these can quickly become a nightmare for multiple residents if the main plumbing line gets blocked. Families may have to be displaced for a time, belongings can get ruined – it’s a hassle for everyone involved! So, take some time to educate your tenants and decide what your policy will be. A little education and planning will help everyone in the long run!