When you reach for a flushable product on the shelf of a store, like flushable wipes or tampons, chances are you're not concerned about your plumbing. However, while these products are marketed as being safe to flush, that's not always the case. Using these products regularly could end up causing problems for your sewer system. If you've been using these products for a long time or just want to know how to avoid problems before you start, then this is what you should know.
The Problem They Pose
When products are marketed as being flushable, it typically just means that they're capable of going down the hole in a toilet and are small enough to not get caught in the pipes leading away from it. That makes it seem as though everything is fine, but it doesn't always work out that way.
For starters, everyone's plumbing system is different. Newer toilets, for example, tend to use less water and have differently shaped pipes. Meanwhile, older plumbing that's out of date may use narrower pipes. No one can effectively test a product like this to encompass every single type of plumbing system that's out there, so there's no guarantee from the start that it will safely go through your pipes.
From there, another problem is that testing typically means flushing one or two items, making sure they travel to the sewer line, and then that's it. It doesn't account for people who flush many of these products day after day, and sometimes in greater quantities than should go down the pipe at any one time.
In any of these cases, these products can start to get caught in your sewer line. Generally, this build-up is gradual, which keeps homeowners from noticing anything is wrong until the toilet simply won't flush. At this point, you're likely facing a large back-up in the sewer line that will need to be fully reamed and cleared out.
If you're already having problems with your plumbing and you've used these products, then you should call a plumber. However, even if your plumbing seems to be okay for now, if you've used these products regularly in the past, you should consider having one come out to examine and clean out your sewer line.
Cleaning the sewer line flushes out any unwanted items like these, preventing significant blockages. Furthermore, it also helps to remove stuck-on substances like oil and grease that can cover the walls of the sewer line. Over a long period of time, these substances can cause things that would normally flow through effortlessly to get stuck instead, contributing to back-ups or blockages.
If you want to use these products, then having a plumber come out for sewer cleaning is a good way to ensure that they don't cause any major headaches. However, most plumbers will recommend giving them up after cleaning the sewer, so consider that option as well.