Don’t Rush to Flush! Help Keep Our Sewers Flowing!

You have probably been hearing a lot about hand washing, cleaning, and disinfecting lately, but have you thought about where your dirty water goes when you are done with it? It travels through your drain into pipes that carry the dirty water to your city’s sewer system, and then the city lines link into WLSSD’s large regional sewer system. City systems and WLSSD’s large regional system use pumps to move the dirty water to the wastewater treatment plant.

Now more than ever, “Don’t Rush to Flush!” Only toilet paper is designed to break up in a sewer system. Other paper products like tissues, paper towels, wipes, and shop rags don’t break down and should NEVER be flushed. These “unflushables” can clog your home’s plumbing and cause nasty, costly sewer backups and blockages.

If these unflushables pass through your plumbing and into the larger sewer systems, we’re not off the hook! Unflushables join together and get tangled and twisted in pumps and other equipment. The equipment will not work until the tangled mess is freed. People have to manually remove the materials to get the pumps working again. There is no equipment that will untangle these knots. This can shut down areas of the sewer system in our community.

The easiest way to avoid problems? Only flush toilet paper and no other products. There are lots of products that claim to be flushable, but the truth is that only TP is flushable and will not clog your sewer line. The “flushable” label on wipes products just means they will pass through the drain, but not necessarily your plumbing.

If you find yourself in desperation with no toilet paper and must use an alternative, please throw wipes, paper towels, tissues and other materials in the trash. It might not sound ideal to throw non-flushable products in the garbage, but this is likely a whole lot better than a backup. To be ready, keep some old plastic grocery bags in the bathroom and use one bag each time you use an “unflushable” item. Tie the bag up and throw it in your outside trash immediately. Or, you might want to look online or in local stores for a bidet and eliminate the need for TP altogether. Some can be easily installed on your existing toilet and sell for as little as $50.

Using the bathroom isn’t the only way unflushables make it down the toilet. Sometimes people will put disinfecting wipes in the toilet instead of the garbage thinking they are flushing germs away. These products are tightly woven fabrics that do not dissolve in water. Older homes with corroded pipes may be especially prone to clogs and backups from flushing wipes.

It is more important than ever to stay clean and sanitary. Following some of these tips can help you do that. When you do the right thing for your household, you do the right thing for the community by keeping the sewers flowing.

Engineering firm Short, Elliot Hendrickson has created a great infographic that uses pictures to help you understand what is and is not flushable!