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Why are wet wipes so bad for a home’s plumbing?

Wet wipes have been a popular household item for many years now. In recent years, however, there has been a resurgence in their popularity and consequently, an increase in blocked drains in Sydney. In the last ten years a new generation of wipes has been developed and labelled as ‘flushable’ wipes. These wipes are essentially baby wipes with biodegradable qualities, however, this does not mean they dissolve in your toilet in the same way that toilet paper does. These wipes do not break down quickly and, if flushed down your toilet regularly enough, will build up slowly until they eventually block your drains.

Why are wet wipes particularly detrimental to older homes?

These wipes are even more of an issue in older homes, particularly homes that were built before the early 1980s as their plumbing systems rely on 1 metre clay pipes, which over time can become fragile and damaged. Each section of metre pipe is connected with cement and is therefore quite unstable. If the earth shifts around this piping, these clay pipes can easily crack, making it easy for roots from nearby trees to invade these cracks and consequently, the piping system. These roots also act as hooks that can catch passing wet wipes and nappies, forming a plug and therefore creating a blockage. The plug can cause even more problems in your drains as it catches passing pieces of toilet paper, which further increases the size of the blockage.

Flushable wet wipes

How do I prevent a blocked drain?

If you have an older home you should consider replacing your piping system with PVC plumbing. Older plumbing systems paired with the blockages created by wipes can be extremely difficult to fix, so you should avoid flushing anything but toilet paper. In homes built subsequent to the 1970s, the plumbing is made up of PVC piping in six metre lengths that are glued together. This form of piping is much more resistant to cracks and shifting earth. As such, you are less likely to experience issues from shifting soil or root invasions; however, you should still avoid flushing wet or ‘flushable’ wipes down the toilet. If you suspect you have a drain blockage, please contact Ruttley Plumbing for Emergency plumbing services in Sydney.