Plenty of products advertise that they're flushable; cleaning wipes, tampons, and even certain brands of kitty litter promise that you can flush their products safely. However, these promises aren't actually verified by any kind of federal or major plumbing company, meaning that even a flushable product could still cause harm. Here are three ways that so-called flushable products could still cause problems.
While many homes and apartment buildings have been built recently or upgraded, not all of them have been. If you live in an older home that hasn't had a complete overhaul of its plumbing, chances are you still have older pipes. These pipes may be made of frailer materials that are slowly breaking down, like plastic, clay, or even repurposed tarpaper. While these pipes may still be holding up for day-to-day use, flushing anything large, abrasive, or unusually shaped down your toilet could potentially speed up the breakdown of these pipes. Once the pipe is cracked or broken, you'll have a much larger problem on your hands that isn't worth the convenience of flushable products.
Sometimes sewer lines have blockages that people don't even know are there, because most materials can still pass through or by them. Sewer lines can be punctured by roots, or partially collapsed, but still functional for the most part. However, thicker products like wipes and tampons can potentially get caught on these blockages, effectively creating a dam over time. Flush enough of these products, and the sewer line will end up being completely blocked, leading to a messy and unpleasant back-up into your home.
Some kitty litter brands claim that you can flush the clumps you scoop up, rather than putting them in the garbage. However, many states prefer that you not do this, because flushing the litter or excrement can harm sea life. California, for example, requests that flushable litter isn't actually flushed, as it's been found to harm seals, sea otters, and even spread parasites to dolphins and whales.
In addition, clumping kitty litter can potentially worsen undiscovered blockages, so it's potentially harmful to homeowners and animals alike.
Flushing a product may seem easier, but it's not always safe for you to do. If you want to use these products, talk to a plumber about whether your pipes are up to the task. If these products have been giving you problems, it might be time to have your pipes replaced by a plumber like Clean Plumbers BY Phillip Maurici Plumbing Inc.