Recent figures released by Thames Water, the UK’s largest water and wastewater services company, show that approximately 3,500 blocked drains a month, across London and the Thames Valley, are caused by wet wipes alone, which can cost up to £12 million annually to clear.
United Utilities has reported that they spend £20 million clearing over 50,000 blocked drains a year, many of which are caused by wet wipes being flushed and disposed of down the toilet.
The cost of clearing a blockage is not just being footed by water and wastewater companies though. If a blockage occurs in a domestic property it is the owner’s responsibility and they are in fact the ones who must rectify the problem, as well as pay the bill.
Drainage companies have recognised an increasing amount of calls coming from domestic customers who are experiencing blocked drains and are unable to flush their toilets. In urban areas, such as towns and cities the problem is significantly worse.
Wet wipes and tissues do not break down when flushed like conventional toilet paper but in fact remain as whole sheets which are what cause blocked drains as they are not cleared out of drain and into the sewer system.
Blockages can be extremely unpleasant and can even back up, spilling out into people’s homes and gardens. This is particularly common in older houses, such as Victorian builds, where larger quantities of water are produced when flushing due to the installation of wider pipes feeding into the toilet.
Cisterns nowadays do not use as much water but still produce a sufficient amount to clear toilet paper and any organic matter. The problem with wet wipes and other items is that they can gradually build up, producing a blockage.
To save yourself some money and ensure that you do not fall victim to a blocked drain rethink what you flush down the toilet. Wet wipes, cotton buds, tissues, sanitary towels, condoms, dental floss and many more items make their way into our drains when they shouldn’t. A simple rule to remember are the 3 P’s: Paper, Poo and Pee. Anything other than these should be disposed of correctly to avoid any problems and ultimately a blockage.