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Take care of those precious pipes

by Katherine Hoyer
| May 1, 2020 1:11 AM

With many of us being home more than we previously were, you may find yourself using one particular area of your home more: your bathroom.

Frequent usage may be giving your toilet a workout these days, but the demand for plumbers is for a different reason. With toilet paper sometimes being hard to find and everyone doing their due diligence in cleaning and sanitizing, you may be tempted to toss that paper towel or sanitizing wipe down the toilet. Please don’t.

Even “flushable wipes” are posing a problem in the pipes. According to the city of Coeur d’Alene Wastewater Department, after putting a flushable wipe in water for over 30 minutes and giving it several aggressive agitations, the wipe did not even begin to break down.

The city of Coeur d’Alene posted on its Wastewater Department webpage:

A What Not To Flush Guideline

“While using paper towels, ‘flushable wipes,’ and Kleenex during a state of emergency sounds like a good idea, please remember that these products are still garbage and should be treated as such. These items have a high probability of clogging your drain line resulting in a call to a plumber that could be avoided. Please keep a garbage can by your toilet should you need to utilize one of the alternative products.”

They began a test to show how different paper products break down in water. You can view those images on its webpage.

Personal wipes such as baby wipes or facial tissues are often coated with different substances than toilet paper and are not safe for the septic system. They accumulate in pipes and can end up backing up your drain, leading to sewage in your home.

Repairing these problems can be very expensive. Follow these tips to protect your pipes.

•Only flush toilet paper down the drain.

•Do not flush cleaning wipes, baby wipes, facial tissues, paper towels, or any other types of paper products.

•Even “flushable” wipes should not be placed in your toilet. Instead throw them in the trash.

•Be conscientious of your water usage.

•Turn off the water while brushing teeth, shaving, or while you are lathering your hands when washing for at least 20 seconds.

•Wash full loads of laundry.

•Fill the dishwasher completely before starting.

•Remember to turn off your sprinklers if there is rain in the forecast.

•Check and repair any leaks.

According to the EPA, each American uses an average of 88 gallons of water a day at home. We encourage everyone to continue cleaning, sanitizing, and washing their hands often. Just don’t flush those cleaning wipes down the toilet and save a little water by turning off the faucet.

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Kootenai Health and the Panhandle Health District are actively working to share information about COVID-19 with our community. You can find the latest updates and ways to protect yourself at cdc.gov/covid19. If you have questions about COVID-19 or think you may have the virus, call the Panhandle Health District COVID-19 hotline at 1-877-415-5225.