You’ve probably seen wipes and hygiene products that say they are flushable right on the package. It might not actually be a good idea to flush these products, depending on what they are made of. It helps if you have an idea of how septic tanks and sewage treatment plants work.
With a septic tank, the water and solid materials (paper, particles, etc.) go into a holding tank. The heavy sludge will fall to the bottom of the tank, while the lighter paper and floatable items will flake to the top of the tank. Whenever you use flushable wipes that aren’t biodegradable, they float to the top of the septic tank and gradually accumulate. They aren’t able to decompose or break down. If you’re not sure, look on the package of flushable wipes or hygiene products. If they say ‘100% biodegradable’, they are fine to put down the septic tank. Otherwise, if it’s more of a fiber wipe that isn’t biodegradable, I wouldn’t recommend it.
With a municipal sewage treatment plant, all of the solids, paper, and other materials that cannot break down end up at the plant where they get strained out and hauled away to the garbage. If every home flushes five wipes, it compounds into a very large amount of material that the treatment plant must deal with. Their facilities aren’t designed to deal with these things, so it’s becoming a very big problem in municipalities right now. Toilet paper, on the other hand, breaks down into really small pieces that are nearly invisible. They are able to degrade wherever the liquid ends up.
You should definitely be conscious of how septic tank systems and sewage treatment plants work. If you keep that in mind, you’ll know why it’s not a good idea to flush or put items down the drain if they aren’t completely biodegradable. If you have any questions, give us a call at 216-703-7007.
Thank you to Wisler Plumbing for input on the above article.