Toilet training a toddler is a challenging time for any parent, and there are a number of ways you can go about coaxing your child to use the big toilet. However, many parents turn to flushable wipes in the early training days as an easy way to wipe a bottom.
While wipes are certainly easier to work with than toilet paper, the damage they may do beneath your home is comparable to the iceberg that lurked in wait for the Titanic. Before you pull out your next wipe, you should learn more about fatbergs.
Fatbergs in Your Plumbing
A fatberg is a combination of paper products flushed into the sewers which combine to make a significant blockage. A small blockage can cause problems for your home's plumbing system, but a big block generates an expensive problem for your water authority to fix. A recent ABC news report quotes water authorities stating they spend $8 million per year to remove wet wipe blocks from their systems.
The problem with flushable wipes is that they do not break down as quickly as toilet paper does. Keep in mind that fat, grease, and other solids also make their way into the sewer pipes, so these items all gel together to make a large mushy, papery mess.
The bigger it gets, the less waste can flow smoothly through the sewer pipes. Additionally, when the wipes reach the waste processing plant, they mat together to form large blockages across the mesh fences that help separate the liquid and solid waste.
Determining if You Have a Fatberg Forming
There is no immediate way you can personally look into your pipes and see if you have a mini fatberg on your property. Because they form in the pipes leading from your property to the main sewer line, you need a plumber to detect their presence with 100% certainty. However, there are several indicators you may have a fatberg problem. These include:
Toilets that are slow to drain after flushing
Bubbling or gurgling sounds coming from the toilet Backed up wastewater in the shower
When any of these symptoms appear, call a plumber to determine whether you have a small local blockage or a larger problem.
Calling a Plumber
Let your plumber know you were using flushable wipes while toilet training your child so he or she can get an idea of where the problem lies.
Plumbers use different methods to check and clear blocked plumbing lines. A small camera attached to a flexible pipe pushed into your plumbing pipes can show a plumber where the blockage sits and how big it is. These two pieces of information will determine the obstruction removal method.
A small clog, for example, could be blasted apart using high-pressure water. But a large clog confirmed to be in the sewer pipe past your property boundary should be reported to the city council so they can remove it.
If you're lucky, the clog has formed just below the toilet S pipe. When this happens, the plumber unbolts the toilet from the floor and clears the blocked pipe below. Once the plumber removes the wipes, they place a new waterproof seal between the toilet and the floor and then bolt it back into place.
Just because a toilet wipe is flushable, it does not mean you should do so during the potty training phase. Now that you know how much damage these can do to both your plumbing and that of the city's, put the wet wipes in the bin rather than in the toilet.
By doing so, you can happily keep your child on the path to toileting independence while potentially saving your city council millions of dollars in sewer pipe repairs. Contact A and C Plumbing to stop a fatberg sinking the plumbing of your home.