This post was originally written in January 2016 and has been updated.
Over the past few months we have been encountering more and more septic tanks that are filled with disposable wipes. The tank is packed so tight and full with a thick layer of wipes that a person could walk across it (yes, that’s gross but a good description). Today we have disposable wipes for just about anything you can imagine—baby wipes, disinfecting wipes, personal wipes, wipes for automobiles and even pet wipes.
Disposable Wipes…the time bomb in your septic system
The issue has been gaining more and more media coverage lately as some homeowners have filed lawsuits against disposable wipe manufacturers for thousands of dollars in repairs or even total replacement of an entire septic system due to damage caused by their products. And the issue goes beyond homeowners to municipalities who’ve paid millions of dollars to fix equipment. Some in the media have termed this as “fatberg”. (Read more about fatberg in our Do Not Flush Wipes or Trash article)
What does this mean to the homeowner?
If you use wipes, dispose of them in the trash can. Protect your investment— your toilet is not a trash can, anything thrown into the toilet can potentially cause a blockage and wreak havoc in your septic tank and the entire system.
What happens when disposable wipes are flushed down the toilet? They can plug drain pipes, septic tanks and can cause field line failure. The wipes also tend to catch and trap other trash that has been flushed. Another issue caused by flushing disposable wipes is the antibacterial agents. The wipes kill the good bacteria in your septic tank. Good bacteria is needed in your septic system to help it continue to work properly.
We have found the wipes clog the main sewer line between the house and tank, causing the septic to back up into the house. The buildup of wipes in the septic tank can reduce the amount of liquid that flows into your drain field, and wipes could go into drain field. See diagram below.
You can continue to use wipes but dispose of them in the trash can. Toilet paper is okay to flush. Remember your toilet is not a trash can, dispose of trash properly. Save yourself money and protect your investment.
A regular maintenance plan and proper care of your septic system will make it effective for many years.
Proper Care means taking care of your septic system. Items that should NEVER go into a toilet:
• Clean wipes/baby wipes
• Paper towels
• Feminine hygiene products
This video shows how wipes pile up, do not dissolve, and can cause damage to your system. These items block the flow of liquids and can also catch and trap other items flushed. This video is for illustrative purposes and at this time we do not offer crust busting services; video courtesy of Ronnie Tamez.
A more complete list of items never to flush