What Can I Flush?
Toilet Paper? Wet Wipes? Flushable Wipes? Households have many options on what goes down their drains, but Superior Plumbing and Drain has a little advice before you get started.
What can go wrong?
Take a look at the pictures below. Master plumber Robert just cleared out a stopped up drain full of wipes.
What A Septic Tank Does
- Takes in wastewater from household
- Always has water inside tank
- Natural bacteria breaks down solids
- A filter allows water to leave tank
- The filtered water is absorbed through natural processes below your yard
How Much is Too Much?
Flushing down items that take longer to disintegrate can cause serious issues. Normal toilet paper usually dissolves within 24 hours. This is ideal. Flushing anything with cardboard or plastic can clog your drain or even your tank. If debris fills up around the filter of the septic tank, you could face thousands of dollars in repairs. The septic tank should be drained at least every two years.
What About Wet Wipes?
Wet wipes are growing in popularity and many claim to be flushable. Are they safe to flush? Do they dissolve as they claim? The answer is no and yes. Technically, they should be safe to flush and they do actually dissolve. The problem is that they can take weeks and months to dissolve. If they are used constantly, the septic tank may not be able to keep up with the demand. The problem is compounded by the fact that wet wipes can cling to surfaces. If there are roots or other protrusions inside your septic system, then the wet wipe will stick. The best option is to not flush them in a toilet. If a customer insists on using wet wipes, then they should be discarded by different means. For example, disposable diaper bags are relatively cheap when bought in bulk and they have a heavily scented layer.
What Else Should I Not Flush?
- Anything Plastic - without going into more detail- I think we all know what we are referring to here!
- Medications- while they will dissolve and not cause a clog, many medications kill bacteria. If the natural bacteria in the septic system is destroyed, you could experience a build-up of solids.
- Any paper besides toilet paper. Napkins, paper towels, copy paper, etc. Toilet paper is designed to dissolve quickly. The others are not. They will clog your drain or slow down the breakdown of solids in your septic tank.
- Anything that is not biodegradable. Thinks like band-aids and floss.
What If I Do Not Have a Septic Tank?
Even without a septic tank, you could be releasing harmful chemicals into the environment. Flushing wet wipes down your drain may clog up sewer systems. If the wipes reach a water treatment facility, as they often do, they cause major problems for the facilities.
When considering what your septic system is capable of handling, it is not all about dissolving the solids. Certain chemicals in pills, cat litter, cigarettes, and other items can be absorbed in your soil or groundwater. Be mindful of these risks and take care of your home and dispose of items in the appropriate manner.