The moist wipe industry is big business in United States. In 2012, flushable wipes accounted for about 14 percent of the $4 billion wet wipes market. Almost any manufacturer in the toilet paper game makes a “flushable” moist towelette. These wipes are used by consumers for any number of purposes, from cleaning your hands and face after chowing down on some buffalo wings to substituting for toilet paper. When these wipes are used for the latter, many have discovered that they are not quite as “flushable” as they claim. In fact, these wipes can cause a plethora of problems from wreaking environmental havoc to clogging your and your community’s pipes.
Wet wipes recently made news when London, England officials had to remove a 15-ton “fatberg” of grease and wet wipes that was clogging up the city’s sewer system. The discovery and removal of the fatberg was costly and news of it spread worldwide.
While this is one extreme example, wet wipes cause a variety of plumbing problems and can even clog up the pipes in your home or cause issues with your septic system. If this happens, unfortunately, you may be subject to expensive repairs. Experts have opined on the “flushability” of these products and have discovered that the large majority of these wipes marketed as safe for sewers and septic tanks do not in fact deliver on their promises.
Many have speculated as to what causes flushable wipes to create plumbing problems. The majority of those who have opined blame the wipes inability to properly break down in normal plumbing conditions. A Consumer Reports test found that while toilet paper substantially breaks down after eight seconds of agitation similar to normal, average flushing and plumbing conditions, after 20 minutes, “flushable” wipes failed to break down at all. Others have speculated that those who have non-PVC pipes in their homes may be more susceptible to these issues. Cast iron pipes often have rough interior surface areas, and wipes may easily get caught—over time, creating a substantial clog.
To be safe, do not flush anything other than toilet paper down your toilet, regardless of any claims made by the manufacturer of the “flushable” product.
If you believe you have suffered from plumbing issues related to “flushable wipes” contact an attorney at Cafferty Clobes Meriwether & Sprengel LLP right away to learn about your rights.